Lyricist Javed Akhtar awarded Indira Gandhi Prize

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Acclaimed lyricist, poet and screenplay-writer Javed Akhtar has been awarded the Indira Gandhi Prize for National Integration. Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi presented Akhtar the award, in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a function in New Delhi.

Dr. Singh pointed out that the prize celebrated the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's "deep commitment to the unity and integrity of the country", recalling Akhtar's comments that the 2002 communal clashes in Gujarat were not a "Hindu-Muslim problem, but a clash of secularism and democracy versus fascism and intolerance". Singh also expressed his delight at the fact that "a creative, committed, secular and patriotic Indian" was being honoured in memory of Mrs. Gandhi.

The Prime Minister also commended Akhtar's contributions to the empowerment of women, while Sonia Gandhi (who headed the advisory committee that chose the winner) spoke about the lyricist's efforts to fight against fundamentalism and expose the divisive forces in Indian politics.