Lyricists and celebrated freethinker of India, Javed Akhtar, was given the prestigious Richard Dawkins Award 2020 for critical thinking, holding religious dogma up to scrutiny, advancing human progress and humanist values. Akhtar is the only Indian ever to have been honoured with the award. Previous recipients include Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens.
Akhtar, with his distinguished stands on topics like CAA, Tablighi Jamaat, islamophobia and Indian god-men have been at the centre of public attention apart from being a celebrated lyricist and writer in Indian cinema.
Wishes are being lavished on him by the Bollywood superstars like Anil Kapoor and Shabana Azmi.
The award is presented to those who publicly speak about secularism, rationalism, atheism and uphold scientific truth. The Richard Dawkins Award is an annual award that was presented by the Atheist Alliance of America up until July 2019; after this it was moved to the hands of Center for Inquiry. The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit organization that advocates of strict church-state separation and opposes religion in government affairs.
Atheist Alliance International (AAI) is a non-profit advocacy organization committed to raising awareness and educating the public about atheism. It does this by supporting atheist and free-thought organizations around the world through promoting local campaigns, raising awareness of related issues, sponsoring secular education projects and facilitating interaction among secular groups and individuals.
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.
India has honoured Javed Akhar with Pama awards twice, with Pamashree of 1999, and Padmabhushan of 2007. He has received five national awards for his lyrics as well.
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