Javed Akhtar- The First Indian with Richard Dawkins Award

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By Sohani Mittal

Veteran writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar has received the 2020 Richard Dawkins Award for critical thinking, holding religious dogma up to scrutiny, advancing human progress and humanist values. 

Akhtar has become the primary Indian to incline the honour, which recognises distinguished individual from the sphere of science, scholarship, education, or entertainment, who publicly proclaims the values of secularism and rationalism and upholding scientific truth.

Akhtar’s wife, veteran actor Shabana Azmi said the award’s relevance becomes more prominent especially within the current times when secularism is vulnerable. 

According to the CFI press release “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”. 

The award has been presented since 2003, and is named after Richard Dawkins, an English evolutionary biologist who was named the world’s top thinker in a 2013 reader’s poll of the Prospect Magazine.

Previous recipients include American TV host, comedian, and political commentator Bill Maher and English-American intellectual, philosopher, social critic and writer Christopher Hitchens.

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