Javed Akhtar becomes first Indian to win Richard Dawkins Award1 min read . Updated: 07 Jun 2020, 07:59 PM IST
The Richard Dawkins Award is given to honour ‘a recipient who 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’
NEW DELHI : Writer lyricist Javed Akhtar became the first Indian to win the prestigious Richard Dawkins Award on Sunday. It is an annual award presented by the Atheist Alliance of America until July 2019 when it moved to the Center for Inquiry (CFI) to honour “a recipient who 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."
Previous recipients include comedian and political commentator Bill Maher, actor and writer Stephen Fry and psychologist Steven Pinker. Richard Dawkins is a renowned English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and author.
Akhtar, one of iconic writer duo Salim-Javed in the 1970s, is credited for co-writing films such as Andaz, Adhikar (1971), Haathi Mere Saathi, Seeta Aur Geeta (1972), Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973), Zanjeer (1973), Haath Ki Safai (1974), Deewaar (1975), Sholay (1975), Chacha Bhatija (1977), Don (1978), Trishul (1978), Dostana (1980), Kranti (1981), Zamana (1985) and Mr. India (1987).
After the duo split, Akhtar turned lyricist with Yash Chopra’s Silsila (1981) and has penned chartbusters for umpteen hits such as Virasat (1997), Kal Ho Na Ho (2003), Veer Zaara (2004), Om Shanti Om (2007), among others.
Awarded the Padma Shri (1999), Padma Bhushan (2007), the Sahitya Akademi Award as well as five National Film Awards, Akhtar has often voiced his opinion on raging socio-political issues be it CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) or the reopening of liquor shops post the lockdown, public policy, secularism and communism in society, on social media platforms like Twitter, in interviews and at literary events.
Actor wife Shabana Azmi was one of the first to break the news on Twitter, saying “Such marvellous news. Congratulations Javedakhtarjadu.To win an award from your hero is the ultimate validation." Wishes from other celebrities such as Anil Kapoor, Dia Mirza and Nandita Das poured in soon after.