About the Forum:
Today in the globalised world humans are aspiring for better future and due to this major developmental changes happening on the face of the earth, climate change and the environmental consequences of it are very much a contemporary issue of urgent need. Friends of Himalayas (formally Friends of Uttarakhand), a forum of Professionals, Students and Research scholars from various universities and institutions, is based on the understanding of such an ideological mooring. It is trying to create an environment of reasoned debate and discussion based on facts rather than mere feeling about development choices, strategies and programmes.
Our dream is to see that each and every one having access to quality education, a healthy life and a society free of exploitation and violence. The mission of FOH is to empower people by equipping them with knowledge, so that they can improve their socio-economic status and participate meaningfully in the development of society. FOH will try to inculcate values like courage, dedication, self-confidence and a sense of self-independence and self-reliance among the people.
The Genesis of “Friends of Himalayas (Uttarakhand)”
History of the organization begins with the countrywide literacy movement in 1990. Our leading friends associated with the movement joined the grass roots and were spreading the message of literacy in different villages of the country. They felt that despite honest efforts being made by various government and non-government organizations, the impact remained invisible / negligible. This could be attributed to gaps in the dialogues between those responsible for development and the beneficiaries. These gaps arose because of differences in the socio-economic and cultural conditions of the two groups – the former belonging to the rich educated class while the later were the poor village population. Such gaps frequently lead to tensions, and confronting situations. Itwas realized that within the above contextual scenario there was a need for an institution/organization, which would reflect both the social, economic and cultural backgrounds.
---------With the understanding that in case of rural development the range of voluntary action needs to be wide and complex rather than selective, a group of experts with an acute drive to be in close and intimate contact with the earth and………. to give meaning and relevance to their lives joined …the Himwant Gramodyog Sansthan….as volunteers.
Association with the HIMWANT GRAMODYOG SANSTHAN ( a village level organization) initiated at the time of involvement of our members in the environment building Jathas for the literacy movement metamorphosed into a long-term relationship. The organization being thoroughly community based was finding it difficult to tackle the jargons of development and the tortuous and arduous task of arranging funds. In response our friends not only provided (still doing so…) shape to their ideas on paper but also got involved at the village level and undertook various village level programmes with them - viz. literacy classes, health campaigns, orientation on varieties of seeds and other herbal plants, awareness on various government schemes, self-help groups with women and other activities. With the intention of preserving the autonomous nature of the organization our members slowly phased out as the frontrunners that they had unwittingly become in the process. They did so with the understanding that support would be available whenever needed. However on their insistence one of our members continues to be in their board to provide continuous organizational support to the team.
Formation of Srishti: To cherish our dream of empowered Himalayan region we FOH created SRISHTI, for taking up developmental activities in the remote areas of Garhwal Himalayas.
The friends into higher education outside the region took this opportunity - their NRU (non resident Uttarakhandies) status - and conceived the FRIENDS OF UTTARAKHAND a forum for bringing together the various actors of civil society (media, academics, organizations, institutions, researchers, activists, bureaucrats) for generating debates on the development issues of the hills and creating pressure groups outside Uttarakhand for influencing the planning and policy initiatives in the state.
Finally in the year 2006, the forum get registered under Indian Trust Act with new name (‘Friends of Himalaya)’ with broader area of ‘Himalayas’ rather than ‘Uttarakhand’ only. Although ‘Uttarakhand’ will be the major focused area of our activities but we will try to network in the other Himalayan States too as more or less the problem and issues in all the Himalayan states are same