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Javed Akhtar becomes first Indian to receive Richard Dawkins Award

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

Akhtar has become the first Indian to be given the honour, which recognises 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'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 said.

The award is named after world-renowned English evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Actor-comedian Ricky Gervais received the honour last year.

Bollywood celebrities Anil Kapoor ans 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 rhe country.

"Javed Akhtar Saab has won the the prestigious Richard Dawkins Award 2020 for critical thinking, holding religious dogma upto 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.


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