Veteran lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar has become the first Indian to win the Richard Dawkins Award. Presented by the Center for Inquiry (CFI), the award felicitates “a distinguished individual from the worlds of science, scholarship, education, or entertainment, who publicly proclaims the values of secularism and rationalism, upholding scientific truth wherever it may lead.”
The award is named after British evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins, known for his landmark book, The Selfish Gene (1976) and his advocacy of atheism and scientific thinking.
Previous recipients of the award include American TV host Bill Maher and writer-journalist Christopher Hitchens. Javed Akhtar is known for his views on politics, religion, and public life in India and the world. He has often spoken out against religious fundamentalism and restrictions on freedom of speech.
“Javed Akhtar wins Richard Dawkins Award 2020 for critical thinking, holding religious dogma upto scrutiny, advancing human progress and humanist values. Awesome,” Shabana Azmi tweeted on Sunday.
Dia Mirza wrote, “Javed Akhtar Saab has won the prestigious Richard Dawkins Award 2020 for critical thinking, holding religious dogma upto scrutiny, advancing human progress and humanist values. He is the only Indian to have won this award! Javed Akhtar, congratulations! You make us proud.”