Javed Akhtar becomes first Indian to win Richard Dawkins Award

ST Staff
Monday, 8 June 2020

Lyricist and songwriter Javed Akthar becomes the first Indian to receive Richard Dawkins Award 2020 for critical thinking, advancing human progress and humanist values.

Lyricist and songwriter Javed Akthar becomes the first Indian to receive Richard Dawkins Award 2020 for critical thinking, advancing human progress and humanist values.

Presented since 2003, the award is named after the English evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. The award is given to those who speak publicly about secularism, rationalism and the truth of science. 

Akhtar strong and independent views on politics, society, art and culture as well as religion on public platform has been noticed across the world. He is seen as a public persona apart from being a lyricist, writer and poet for Indian cinema. 

The information was shared on Twitter on Sunday by his wife and actor Shabana Azmi.

Social Media platform has been flooded with post and comments congratulating the scriptwriter-lyricist who describes himself as "atheist and a die-hard optimist" in his Twitter bio. 

"I am deeply honoured. 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 Center for Inquiry USA, in which The Richard Dawkins Foundation is housed," Akhtar told PTI. 

The artist has often been on the receiving end of social media abuse because of his stance against religious fundamentalism. While he never sought validation, he said that it is certainly special that his writings have been noticed by a huge institution.

“Validation is for someone who has even an iota of doubt about what he or she thinks. But I have always been so sure about my thinking. But I am thrilled for this one because it is the first time I have been awarded for my views, my thought process, my rationality, my thoughts on religion. It is the ultimate recognition because it comes from a huge institution,” he said in an interview with The Indian Express. 

In addition to holding five National Awards for Best Lyricist, he also received Sahitya Akademi Award and now, Richard Dawkins Award.

The Richard Dawkins Award is an annual award that was presented by the Atheist Alliance of America up until July 2019, when it moved to the Center of Inquiry.

“The recipient will be 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,” cites the CFI.

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