“A luminary in Indian cinema and literature, Javed Akhtar’s impact spans across writing, activism, and leadership,” the SOAS citation reads…reports Asian Lite News
Award-winning lyricist, poet, scriptwriter and activist Javed Akhtar on Thursday received his Doctor of Literature honorary degree at a ceremony at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
The 78-year-old has been conferred the honorary degree for his creative endeavours as a distinguished writer and his dedication to social justice as an activist. Dr Akhtar was accompanied at the ceremony by his actor wife, Shabana Azmi, and filmmaker son, Farhan Akhtar.
“A luminary in Indian cinema and literature, Javed Akhtar’s impact spans across writing, activism, and leadership,” the SOAS citation reads.
“As an award-winning scriptwriter, lyricist, poet, and activist, Akhtar’s work has touched the hearts and minds of millions. His dedication to social justice, as reflected in his instrumental role in copyright reform, and his outspoken stance against religious fundamentalism highlight his commitment to a better society,” it notes.
The university highlighted Akhtar’s many accolades, including numerous awards for his cinematic contributions, such as National Awards and Filmfare Awards, and recognition as the first Indian to be conferred the Richard Dawkins Award for critical thinking, which “underscores his influence as a thought leader”.
Among the 2023 cohort of SOAS honorary doctorates, British Indian chef and bestselling cookbook author Asma Khan was conferred a Doctor of Science (Social Sciences) degree for reshaping the culinary landscape with her innovative approach to food and her commitment to social change.
“As the first British chef profiled in Netflix’s Emmy-nominated ‘Chef’s Table’ series and a Vogue 25 Most Influential Women awardee, Khan’s impact transcends borders. Her all-female kitchen team and dedication to inclusivity have earned her recognition as a trailblazer,” reads her citation.
“Khan’s accomplishments also extend beyond the culinary world, including her role on the Mayor’s Business Advisory Board and an Honorary Fellowship at Oxford University. She holds a PhD in British Constitutional Law from King’s College London and now an Honorary Doctorate from SOAS University of London,” it reads.
SOAS said it hopes to revive its Ramadan tent with the support and leadership of Dr Asma Khan, who is on the advisory committee for the Ramadan Tent Project charity.
SOAS University of London said it confers honorary degrees to individuals whose outstanding achievements and commitment to positive change exemplify the values and aspirations of the university community.
“Their influence and accomplishments will undoubtedly continue to inspire students, faculty, and the broader society,” it added.
Internationally acclaimed Buddhist scholar and teacher Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche and public health campaigner Professor Kevin Fenton CBE completed the 2023 set of honorary degrees at the university this week.