Award in hand! Shabana Azmi posts Javed Akhtar's photo as he poses with his Richard Dawkins Award

Updated: 28 October, 2020 10:11 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

The first Indian to receive the honour, Javed Akhtar was awarded for his 'critical thinking and holding religious dogma up to scrutiny and advancing human progress'

Javed Akhtar
Javed Akhtar

Over four months after bagging the 2020 Richard Dawkins Award, the trophy has reached Javed Akhtar. The first Indian to receive the honour, Akhtar was awarded for his 'critical thinking and holding religious dogma up to scrutiny and advancing human progress'. Be it on social media or at sessions in different cities, Akhtar has been vocal about topics like CAA and Islamophobia.

The award has been presented since 2003, and is named after English evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

"I am deeply honoured to receive the Richard Dawkins Award 2020. I have admired Richard Dawkins ever since I read his first book 'The Selfish Gene'. I have since then read every book of his and 'The God Delusion' is my absolute favourite. To have my name included in the distinguished list of the previous recipients such as Bill Maher and Christoper Hitchens is the fulfilment of a dream I had not even seen," Akhtar had said, in June this year.

However, the announcement was marred by controversy when a social media post claimed that Javed Akhtar had mistaken an email recommending his name for the honour as the award. The post claimed that a London-based group of rationalists had proposed Akhtar's name. Now, they were pushing the authorities concerned to bestow the honour on him to avoid embarrassment. The post also wondered why no official announcement of Akhtar's honour had been made.

Akhtar's wife-actress Shabana Azmi had hit back at trolls, saying that they had an email from Dawkins. Azmi wrote, "This is patently untrue. We have an email from Richard Dawkins offering the award and also from Robyn Blumner who heads the Centre for Inquiry USA. I feel sad for these pathetic trolls who do not care that they will stand exposed for such a preposterous claim."

A day later, Dawkins himself confirmed the announcement:

Richard Dawkins Tweet

All's well that ends well. 

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First Published: 28 October, 2020 10:05 IST

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