HimVani Executive Summary
In September 2008 HimVani celebrated its second anniversary. Much has changed since February 2006, when HimVani started as a blog on Blogspot. Before we go into the history of its evolution we’d like to thank all the citizens of Himachal Pradesh for making HimVani a great success. Since its inception, HimVani has gone through many highs and lows, and has stared in the of shutting down a number of times. But our grit and determination has not only seen HimVani sustain, but also grow. And all this while we also contributed to other aspects of social life in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Read on to know more about:
Evolution of HimVani
HimVani genesis lies in an online e-group “Voice of Himchal” formed by concerned Himachalis living in and outside Himachal. They all wanted to contribute to the development of their state. What started as a small community for Himachalis in 2001 has taken shape of an information resource for the people and by the people of Himachal Pradesh.
Thus was started HimVani, a blog dedicated to Himachal Pradesh. Many people joined in slowly to make HimVani what it is today – not just a blog, but a citizens’ property today, who’ve made grassroots journalism a great success. Initially, we were a little skeptical about the response we would get from the people. However, as we believe – charity begins at home – we started writing and soon it became a people’s movement.
In May 2006, we moved from Blogspot to WordPress as the latter offered a more dynamic technological platform. Then in September 2006 we moved to our own server and with our own domain name HimVani.com.
There have been times when we did not have stories to publish. Frustrating as it was, we were at times tempted to launch into “press-note” journalism or “copy-cat journalism”. We resisted that temptation and heldon to our belief – Content is the king. Because of that more than “Search Engine Optimisation”, our’s been a success story based on Word-of-mouth publicity and email referrals by people and the grassroots journalists, because we have strived to keep our content strong, with a longer shelf-life.
What is HimVani’s status today?
Today, students, teachers, research scholars, bureaucrats, NRIs and even politicians from Himachal have become regular visitors to HimVani. Today we’ve got some “who’s who” of Himachal as our writers and readers. We’ve have endeavoured to motivate people to become a think-tank, which has been our objective for the website.
Are we doing it for profit?
No. HimVani is a voluntary effort just for the passion and love we feel for the state; and not just a thanksgiving initiative but also a gesture to give back something to the state. It’s very difficult to motivate someone to write for you without any monetary compensation. However, we’ve writers who all are writing for free. As of now, we are putting in money from our pockets for the domain name and server rentals. However, in future I’d certainly like HimVani to attract ads to self-sustain itself and a point where we can pay back some of our writers in remote villages – a compensation for the telephone calls they make and the pictures they send through the internet.
Why we call ourselves as grassroots journalists?
HimVani has strived to be a solution provider and not a grievance forum. While we’ve highlighted the grey areas, HimVani has been an effort to work at the grassroots and come up with solutions for those areas. One such effort was a suggestion to the tourism department to provide training to dhaba-wallas on the Shimla Kalka highway on basic cleanliness and Himachali cuisine. We also wanted to highlight the development work going on at the grassroots level. HimVani just doesn’t believe in reporting, but solutions.
How can HimVani contribute to development in Himachal?
For a long time we have kept one word in our mind i.e. Catalyst. All our strategies and plans are built around this keyword. There is a constant deliberation which goes between us on – “How can we act as a catalyst in the development process in Himachal Pradesh?”. HimVani.com came after all these deliberations. It was felt that considering the geography and small population, Himachal fails to get any media attention. So it was conceived that we set-up a website which is supported by ordinary citizens like you and me. We the citizens take not just reporting but come up with solutions as well. In the last one year we have been able to mobilise opinions from a wide section and we hope to continue with the same.
What has HimVani done so far?
|2006 Feb||HimVani.com launched as an independent website focusing on social and developmental issues in Himachal Pradesh.|
|2006 Jun||Co-sponsored Utsav 2006, a seminar on differently-abled children in Shimla.|
|2006 Oct||Based on an online debate in our e-group, HimVani wrote to the Chief Minister requesting for training on Himachali cuisine for dhabawallas along Kalka Shimla highway. Soon after the department announced a pilot project to train the dhabawallas thereby improving experience for tourists coming to the state.|
|2006 Dec||HimVani helped raise Rs 60,000/- from its global audience to support cochlear implant operation of 12 year old Vasudha who belongs to a remote region in Himachal.|
|2007 Feb||Surti, a 5 year old girl living in slums of Dharamshala was born with a hole in the heart. HimVani team helped raise Rs. 75,000/- for an operation to alleviate her condition.|
|2007 Mar||HimVani.com carried a story on why Himachal missed the Gods own country bus? Based on our suggestion Tourism department announced launching of HP tourism website in foreign languages to promote tourism in the state amongst European travelers.|
|2007 Jul||Lok Vigyan Kendra, an NGO proposed herbal plantations in remote Charda panchayat of Chamba district to restore forests and livelihoods in the region. HimVani supported the campaign in its channels and helped raise almost half of the required project money.|
|2007 Aug||Vriksh, an NGO based in Kangra valley proposed a tree plantation project. HimVani helped raise money for not only tree plantation but also labour costs for upkeep of the new saplings for one year.|
|2007 Nov -Dec||During H.P. assembly elections HimVani supported efforts of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in running election watch campaign and acts as a partner in disseminating information about election nominees to the common masses through our website and network of NGOs|
|2008 Feb – Apr||Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan organized a padyatra to sensitize the government to evolve a rights-based policy for single women in the state. HimVani team took an active role, managing media and public relations on behalf of the NGO, informing and align media representatives in Shimla and Chandigarh. Subsequently, the padyatra got covered across all major editions of national dailies. The Government took notice of the movement and accepted the demand to raise pension for single women in the state.|
|2008 May||HimVani started with its project to create and maintain free blog-enabled websites to select civil society organizations and intellectuals in Himachal. The idea, in keeping with HimVani’s objectives is to facilitate for them a platform to voice their opinions to a global audience.Website of noted Hindi writer Mr. S.R. Harnot launched.Our technical team developed a website for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in Himachal Pradesh.|
|2008 Jun||HimVani team launches a website to promote Kangra miniature paintings in association with Kangra Arts Promotion Society (KAPS).Vriksh is back with its campaign to plant trees. HimVani team has put them in touch with WWF Shimla unit to offer a small donation for the project.Action Aid is organizing week long training on community based rehabilitation in Shimla for NGOs and partners across India. We provided them support in finding civil society organization working on disability issues.
HimVani team completes a study on Information and Communication needs of NGOs in Shimla