Swami Agnivesh Memorial Award – 2021

December 19, 2021, In the News

The inaugural Swami Agnivesh memorial award was announced by the Hindus for Human Rights, (USA) organization during their annual virtual holiday gala “Celebration of Hope” on December 18, 2021.

“Dhanak of Humanity, a not-for-profit organization comprising of interfaith couples, inter-caste couples, and individuals who believe in Dhanak’s cause is the first-ever recipient as an organization to be recognized with this award for its work.
“Dhanak of Humanity advocates for an individual’s right to exercise their constitutional and human right to choose their partner, whether in marriage or to be in a relationship without having to fear any ill consequences. Founded by a few interfaith couples, Dhanak began as a support group in 2004. It was registered in 2012 under the Societies Registration Act.
“Dhanak has evolved organically, and over the years it has emerged as a champion organization working for an individual’s Right to Choose in matters of Marriage or Relationships, against Religious Conversion for the sake of marriage, against Honour-Based Crimes, and against Forced Marriages in India. Dhanak is the only organization in India working on a spectrum of issues and challenges faced by interfaith and inter-caste couples, LGBTQIA couples, and individuals who choose to assert their autonomy.
“Over the years, Dhanak has touched the lives of over 5000 individuals. Dhanak’s expertise developed based on real-life experiences of struggling couples; be it dealing with their own value system and stereotypes, their families, or with the administration and legal systems.”

Asif Iqbal, co-founder, and Shailaja Rao, a Dhanak member, were present at the virtual event to accept the prestigious award. They expressed their gratitude and reaffirmed their shared vision of working towards achieving a more pluralistic society. Two inter-caste couples and an interfaith couple who received support and guidance from Dhanak were showcased in the event.

Please visit: https://www.hindusforhumanrights.org/en/blog/hfhr-awards-inaugural-swami-agnivesh-memorial-awards-at-second-annual-gala


  • Dhanak is a not-for-profit organization. 
  • Dhanak does not charge any fees towards its services. 
  • Dhanak does not facilitate solemnizing religious marriages.
  • Dhanak is a membership-based organization wherein its members play a crucial role be it as volunteers, as change-makers, or participating in the peer-support and solidarity group.
  • We believe in maintaining a long-term association with our members. We are aware that challenges do not end with the registration of marriage. Couples and families seek support and solidarity throughout their early married lives, as well as when their family grows. We encourage couples to become members of Dhanak to enjoy benefits such as free support, counseling,  access to our virtual and off-line seminars and sessions, events, fun and awareness-raising trips, publications, etc. 
  • To establish your association with Dhanak and become a member of our secular and gender-just Dhanak family, a token contribution of Rs. 2400 will be charged beginning January 1, 2022. This small but significant contribution will help us to sustain and extend our help and support to cater to more couples and families-in-need. By contributing you will receive personalized support as well as help Dhanak in reaching out to others in need.
  • Annual membership of Rs. 2400 (100 rupees per person, per month) is charged for continued association and availing benefits.
  • Couples staying at the Dhanak Safehouse are required to contribute Rs. 100 per day towards maintenance, electricity, gas, etc.