03:00 GMT05 August 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Over the last few months, the heartbeat of India – Bollywood – has been gutted with the pain of losing iconic veteran artists, including Irrfan Khan, Rishi Kapoor, and Wajid Khan, to various diseases as well as the coronavirus. Amid the gloom, virtuoso music composer and poet Javed Akhtar has brought some good news and cheer.

    At 75 years, Javed Akhtar has become the first Indian ever to bag the Richard Dawkins Award for his critical thinking and progressive humanist morals, some of which have landed Akhtar in hot water on social media.

    Richard Dawkins is a 79-year-old English evolutionary biologist and author who in 2013 was named as the world’s top thinker by the London-based Prospect Magazine. The Richard Dawkins Award is known for recognising the values of secularism and rationalism and has been presented since 2003.

    Speaking to Indian media, Akhtar revealed that the US-based Centre for Inquiry (CFI) – a non-profit organisation that “strives to foster a society free of the dogmatic influence of religion and pseudoscience” and houses The Richard Dawkins Foundation – had informed him about the news via email.

    The news sprung netizens, including Bollywood celebrities like Dia Mirza and Anil Kapoor, among others, into joy, and who then took to Twitter to congratulate the veteran lyricist. His wife, famous yesteryear actress Shabana Azmi, and his actor-director-singer son, Farhan Akhtar, also congratulated Javed Sahab – as he is fondly referred to in India – on social media.

    ​Known for his strongly opinionated words, Akhtar has been netted in troll-trouble with his tweets on sensitive subjects. This year, his views on India’s amended citizenship law (CAA) (related to non-Muslim illegal immigrants and not existing Indian citizens), which was deemed by some as discriminatory against the Muslim community, cast him in a negative light.

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