Dharmender, 39, is a post graduate from Delhi University. Beginning his engagement with slum communities during college days, he took up problems faced by rag pickers of the city under the banner of Lok Adhikar Sangathan. Mobilizing various stake holders on the issue, he was successful in achieving recognition of household ragpickers as formal employees.
He later spread his work to Bareilly where he began working with manjha artisans. UP has the largest concentration of manjha workers, mostly concentrated in the towns of Bareilly, Rampur, Moradabad and Lucknow. In addition to already existing problems of occupational health hazards and constant financial instability, manjha workers who have practiced the traditional craft for centuries have had to face the recent onslaught of much cheaper Chinese manjha that has captured the market. Dharmendra has worked with various organisations such as Hazard Centre and Nirman in the past on the issue of rights to the city. He believes in sustaining a constant engagement with media, political parties, civil societies and groups; is a member of various networks and actively organises seminars and trainings with youth to raise awareness.