India Love Project, a social media initiative to celebrate love and marriage outside the “shackles of faith, caste, ethnicity and gender”, has been recognised as one of the 10 finalists for the 2023 . The award is conferred by the Canada-based Global Centre for Pluralism.
Shortlisted from among 200 submissions from 60 countries by an independent jury, India Love Project has been spotlighted for “countering prejudice” by sharing stories of union that “defy traditional boundaries”.
Launched in 2020 by Niloufer Venkatraman, Samar Halarnkar and Priya Ramani, the project’s shares real-life love stories of couples who are interfaith, inter-caste, inter-ethnic and LGBT. It also connects couples with pro bono lawyers and counsellors to support their unions.
On being shortlisted for the award, Halarnkar told Newslaundry, “Pluralism appears to be under unprecedented threat in today’s India and that is why it is so important that initiatives like India Love Project succeed and grow.”
He said that in the push for primacy to one religion, one culture, it is easy to ignore the fact that India is an “incredibly diverse country, one of the most diverse in the world”. “We have to remind ourselves of this pluralism…If there is anything that can address the threats to pluralism, it is the simple act of love.”
On the way forward, co-founder Ramani said, “Next year is a big one for us. We hope to publish a book, and our series produced by Dharmatic Entertainment for Amazon Prime should be out in early 2024. It will have six episodes, each telling the story of a couple featured on India Love Project.”
She added that her husband, her and their close friend Niloufer were “aghast at the bullying” that befell Tanishq over their ad depicting interfaith love in October 2020. “That’s when we launched India Love Project as an Instagram project…We were overwhelmed by the response. Positive news as resistance was clearly a winning idea.”
A press release quoted jury chair Dr Marwan Muasher of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as saying the finalists “have made outstanding contributions to fostering pluralism in some of the world’s most challenging contexts.”