8888677771 | India Love Project shortlisted for 2023 Global Pluralism Award

Taking a step forward to create an inclusive society, The Global Centre for Pluralism recently announced its top 10 finalists for the 2023 Global Pluralism Award. The sole Indian project to make it as a finalist is India Love Project (ILP), which is a storytelling initiative known for its affinity towards promoting interfaith, intercaste and LGBTQ+ relationships through “positive stories of love and marriage”.

As per the press statement, ILP was selected from among 200 submissions from 60 countries.

Thrilled at the global recognition, the founders and senior journalists Niloufer Venkatraman, Samar Halarnkar and Priya Ramani expressed their excitement as well as appreciation for acknowledging their efforts.

Niloufer expressed in an exclusive interaction that it was “fantastic”. “It’s fantastic that our Instagram project, started overnight in October 2020, has been given this global recognition among so many diverse groups. It’s certainly very encouraging, and we feel excited to learn more from the other short-listed organisations about how we can contribute further to creating a more plural and inclusive society,” said Niloufer.

What’s the learning out of their incredible journey?

According to Niloufer, the learning is that the biggest battle couples face when they want to choose their own life partners is the limitations set by orthodox cultural values, and by extension, “the challenge is their parents, who want to enforce these”.

“We feel that the public needs to be continuously reminded that we are actually a plural society. We are a country of multiple cultural traditions that we must all recognise, respect, and celebrate. We as a society are becoming so conditioned to respond in a homogenous way to key life choices that we cannot accept any difference. While we at ILP are talking mainly about inter-faith, inter-caste and LGBTQI+ choices, this lack of respect for difference is all around us,” expressed Niloufer, who is looking forward to a docu-drama mini-series on Amazon Prime produced by Karan Johar’s Dharma Entertainment Pvt Ltd and an ILP book too.

Other finalists, who have been working on a range of disciplines, from peacebuilding to translation, social enterprise, sports therapy, storytelling, and technology, are based out of Belgium, Brazil, Cameroon, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Palestine, South Africa, and the US.

In a press statement, jury chair Dr Marwan Muasher of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former foreign minister and deputy prime minister of Jordan said, “The Award finalists have made outstanding contributions to fostering pluralism in some of the world’s most challenging contexts. They are strengthening their communities by helping to build a foundation of mutual respect, cooperation, and shared purpose.”

Notably, among the top 10 finalists, three winners and seven honourable mention recipients will be announced in October and recognised at a ceremony to be held in November in Ottawa, Canada. According to the press statement, each winner will receive a prize of $50,000 (CAD) to further their work in support of pluralism.

Here’s the complete list of finalists (mentioned in alphabetical order), as per the press statement:

Build Up (Kenya/United States/Global) works with peacebuilding institutions and a network of peace innovators to tackle polarisation and make peacebuilding processes more inclusive of diverse voices and perspectives with a specific focus on digital technologies.

Deeyah Khan (Norway/United States) is a documentary filmmaker and activist countering extremism and fostering understanding and empathy across ideological, religious and racial divides.

Esther Omam (Cameroon) is a peacebuilder, mediator and human rights defender mobilizing women and youth from across Cameroon to advocate for an end to conflict and hostilities.

The Global Interfaith Network for People of All Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions – GIN-SSOGIE(South Africa/Global) supports LGBTIQ+ people of faith from the Global South and East to advocate for an end to violence and persecution against sexual and gender minorities.

India Love Project (India) challenges exclusion and prejudice in India by sharing love stories of non-traditional unions between interfaith, inter-caste and LGBTQ+ couples on social media.

Lea Baroudi (Lebanon) is a peace mediator using art, culture and social enterprise to provide Lebanese youth with the rare opportunity to build a future outside of violent extremism and sectarianism.

Politize! Civic Education Institute (Brazil) is a non-partisan and non-profit organization tackling polarisation in Brazil by producing free and unbiased political education, training civic leaders to solve public policy problems and training teachers to educate youth to become engaged citizens.

Red de Intérpretes y Promotores Interculturales Asociación Civil (Mexico) is an Indigenous youth collective in Oaxaca, Mexico tackling exclusion by providing otherwise unavailable Indigenous language interpretation to those involved in legal proceedings.

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REFORM: The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development (Palestine) is a non-governmental organization building solidarity between groups in Palestine by empowering them to get involved in social life and influence decision-making.

Touché (Belgium) is a social enterprise providing support to current and former prisoners and at-risk youth and, in the process, advancing a positive view of anger and aggression.

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