Javed Akhtar becomes the first Indian to receive Richard Dawkins award

Indian lyricist and poet, Javed Akhtar, known for his fiercely independent views on religion, social issues and politics has become the first ever Indian to win the prestigious Richard Dawkins award. The award, to be presented this year, named after the English ethologist and author is presented every year to distinguished individuals who uphold scientific truth from fields of science, education, entertainment, etc.

Akhtar, known for his fiercely independent views on religion, culture, politics and social issues has received the prestigious award for critical thinking, holding religious views upto scrutiny, advancing human values and social progress. Other recipients of this award include TV host and political commentator Bill Maher and English-American intellectual Christopher Hitchens.

Akhtar told on Sunday that he is “deeply honoured” to receive this award. “I have been a great admirer of Richard Dawkins ever since I read his first book, ‘The Selfish Gene’. I received an email from him informing me that I had been unanimously selected for the award by the Board of Centre of Inquiry, USA, in which the Richard Dawkins Foundation is housed,” Azmi had said.

The world renowned ecological biologist tweeted yesterday, “Javed Akhtar is the 2020 Richard Dawkins Award winner and I could not be more pleased. The Centre for Inquiry, on whose board I sit, has designated him this year’s recipient for his courageous public stands on behalf of atheism, rationality and free thought.”

The annual award was presented by the Atheist Alliance of America till 2019. The AAI, with its motto, “For a secular world”, is a non-profit organisation (NPO) committed to raising awareness and educating the public about atheism. The award was moved to the Centre of Inquiry or CFI last year. The CFI is another NPO that opposes the interference of religion in government affairs. The award has been presented since 2003.

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Akhtar, recipient of other prestigious awards like Padma Shree and Padma Bhushan has also bagged five national film awards and eight filmfare awards for his performances as a lyricist. He is known for writing the screenplay for iconic movies like Deewar, Zanjeer and Sholay.

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