Javed Akhtar becomes first Indian to bag Richard Dawkins Award
Previous winners of the award, which is named after the celebrated biologist, and seeks to recognise individuals who “publicly proclaim the values of secularism, rationalism, upholding scientific truth”, include Ricky Gervais, Stephen Fry and Bill Maher.
Veteran writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar has become the first Indian to win the prestigious Richard Dawkins Award, which recognises a distinguished individual from the field of science, scholarship, education, or entertainment, who publicly proclaims the values of secularism and rationalism and upholding scientific truth.
Akhtar won the award for critical thinking, holding religious dogma up to scrutiny, and advancing human progress and humanist values.
"I wasn’t sure that these people would know what I am saying, what I am writing, what I am speaking from different podiums. But thank you very much. Mr Richard Dawkins’ letter was a very very pleasant surprise," Akhtar told NDTV in an interview.
Akhtar's wife, veteran actor Shabana Azmi said the award's relevance becomes more prominent especially in the current times when secularism is under attack.
"I am thrilled. I know what a hero Richard Dawkins has been for Javed. The award gains all the more significance 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," Azmi told PTI.
The award is named after world-renowned English evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Previous winners of the award include Ricky Gervais, Stephen Fry and Bill Maher.
Bollywood celebrities Anil Kapoor and Dia Mirza took to Twitter to congratulate the 75-year-old writer for the recognition.
"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! It's a truly incredible honour! Congratulations!" Kapoor tweeted.
Dia said Akhtar's win is a proud moment for the country.
"Javed Akhtar Saab has won the prestigious Richard Dawkins Award 2020 for critical thinking, holding religious dogma up to scrutiny, advancing human progress and humanist values. He is the only Indian to have won this award! @Javedakhtarjadu Congratulations! You make us proud," Dia wrote.
(With PTI inputs)