Javed Akhtar, a renowned Bollywood lyricist, and writer have been awarded the prestigious Richard Dawkins Award. His citation reads that he’s been awarded “for critical thinking, holding religious dogma up to scrutiny, advancing human progress and humanist values.”
The prestigious accolade is named after Richard Dawkins, a celebrated English evolutionary biologist who was regarded as one of the world’s greatest intellectuals.
Akhtar is the only Indian to win till date. Earlier, the award has been bestowed on American TV host, comedian and political commentator Bill Maher and intellectual, philosopher, social critic, and writer Christopher Hitchens. Just last year, actor Ricky Gervais was awarded the same as well.
The award recognises recipients from the fields of science, scholarship, education, or entertainment, who publicly uphold the values of secularism and work towards proclaiming scientific truth.
Actress Shabana Azmi, the wife of Javed Akhtar, took to Twitter to share the news and the happiness it brought to the family. In talking to PTI, she said “I am thrilled. I know what a hero Richard Dawkins has been for Javed. The award gains all the more significant because, in today’s time when secularism is being attacked by religious fundamentalists of all hues, this award comes as a validation of Javed’s long service to rational thinking.”
Akhtar, who describes himself as an atheist, has had strongly put forth his views on various issues of national importance including CAA and emerging Islamophobia in India. He’s also taken on Islamic preachers and other religious dogmatists on several occasions.
Many of his celebrity colleagues such as Dia Mirza, Anil Kapoor, and Urmila Matondkar as well as numerous fans all joined in the celebration and congratulated him. Anil Kapoor, renowned Bollywood actor tweeted “Knowing that Richard Dawkins has been your hero since you read The Selfish Gene, the prestigious Richard Dawkins Award must be extra special for you, @Javedakhtarjadu Saab! Its a truly incredible honour! Congratulations.”