Mr. Surender Dhaleta conceptualised and cradled HimVani at a time when there were not more than a couple of online initiatives discussing and debating the discourse of development in Himachal Pradesh. I am not sure whether there are still many now amid the noise of mushrooming news sites.
This initiative stood out amongst the rest, yet complemented the debate on critical issues of Himachal Pradesh. Himvani.com was conceived as a think tank and it mobilised the community of the active citizens, full time activists, intellectuals, academia, young as well as seasoned bloggers and mainstream media persons not only within Himachal but across India and abroad. Surender’s idea of making this initiative a melting pot of the ideas of the civil society as well as the state made it stand out from the rest and it had all the flavours of a democratic debating platform, where many times even the state functionaries participated in the debate which was in full public view.
Under his guidance Himvani constantly registered its presence among the daily readers, many later converted to citizen writers, with daily news feed despite having an entirely voluntary writers base. Himvani.com also engaged in a debate on issues as mundane as water and transport and as ‘sacred’ to the state as state’s development policy.
Many issues that generated passionate debate from readers including Himachali diaspora included the provisions and relaxations of Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reform Act 1972 and Himachal lagging behind on the tourism map. These later also found favour with the mainstream media and remained a hot topic for a long time.
This initiative is one of the landmarks in the social media scenario of Himachal Pradesh. I enjoyed being a part of it and wish best of social enterprising to Surender in future.