Sahitya Akademi Award

Sahitya Academy Award
Awarded by Sahitya Akademi, Government of India
Category Literature (Individual)
Description Literary award
in India
Instituted 1954
First awarded 1955
Last awarded 2015
Total awarded 60

The Sahitya Akademi Award is a literary honor in India, which the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters, annually confers on writers of the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the major Indian languages recognised by the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.[1]

Established in 1954, the award comprises a plaque and a cash prize of Rs. 100,000.[2] The award's purpose is to recognize and promote excellence in Indian writing and also acknowledge new trends. The annual process of selecting awardees runs for the preceding twelve months. The plaque awarded by the Sahitya Akademi was designed by the Indian film-maker Satyajit Ray.[3] Prior to this, the plaque occasionally was made of marble, but this practice was discontinued because of the excessive weight. During the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, the plaque was substituted with national savings bonds.[4]


Other literary honours

Sahitya Akademi Fellowships

They form the highest honor which the Akademi confers through a system of electing Fellows and Honorary Fellows. (Sahitya Akademi Award is the second-highest literary honor next to a Sahitya Akademi Fellowship).

Bhasha Samman

Sahitya Akademy gives these special awards to writers for significant contribution to Indian languages other than the above 24 major ones and also for contribution to classical & medieval literature. Like the Sahitya Akademi Awards, Bhasha Samman too comprise a plaque and a cash prize of Rs. 1,00,000(from 2009)The Sahitya Akademi instituted Bhasha Samman in 1996 to be given to writers, scholars, editors, collectors, performers or translators who have made considerable contribution to the propagation, modernization or enrichment of the languages concerned.The Samman carries a plaque along with an amount equal to its awards for creative literature i.e. rupees 1,00,000.It was Rs.25,000 at the time of inception, increased to Rs.40,000 from 2001, Rs.50,000 from 2003 and to Rs. 1,00,000 from 2009.The Sammans are given to 3-4 persons every year in different languages on the basis of recommendation of experts' committees constituted for the purpose.

The first Bhasha Sammans were awarded in to Sri Dharikshan Mishra for Bhojpuri, Sri Bansi Ram Sharma and Sri M.R. Thakur for Pahari (Himachali), Sri K. Jathappa Rai and Sri Mandara Keshava Bhat for Tulu and Sri Chandra Kanta Mura Singh for Kokborok; for their contribution to the development of their respective languages.

Translation Awards

Established in 1989, Sahitya Akademi annually gives these awards for outstanding translations of major works in other languages into one of the 24 major Indian languages. The awards comprise a plaque and a cash prize of Rs. 50,000.

Anand Coomarswamy Fellowships

Named after the Ceylon Tamil writer Ananda Coomaraswamy, the fellowship was started in 1996. It is given to scholars from Asian countries to spend 3 to 12 months in India to pursue a literary project.

Premchand Fellowships

Named after Hindi writer Premchand, the fellowship was started in 2005. It is given to persons of eminence in the field of Culture from SAARC countries.

Return of Sahitya Akademi Awards

However, as of 2015 the award has been returned by many writers for various reasons.[5] As many as 40 prominent writers have also announced their returning of the award in protest at the "rising intolerance in India" under its present government. The first to return the award was Uday Prakash, a Hindi writer, on 4 September 2015 in protest at the murder of M. M. Kalburgi, a Kannada Sahitya Akademi award winner.[6] Following Prakash, prominent writers including Nayantara Sahgal, Ashok Vajpeyi and women veteran writers Krishna Sobtiand, Shashi Deshpande have also returned their awards. Joining the chorus, many writers announced their returning of the award in protest at the murder of Kalburgi as well as the Dadri incident in Greater Noida, where a Muslim man was lynched by a mob after hearing rumors of him eating and storing beef. Among others, Ajmer Aulakh, Aman Sethi, Ganesh Devy, Kum Veerabhadrappa and Shashi Deshpande publicly announced their return of the award.[7] To show their condemnation Deshpande, K.Satchidanandan, PK Parakkadvu and Aravind Malagatti also resigned their posts at the Sahitya Akademi. The Sahitya Akademi expressed solidarity and condemned the killings of writers after a considerable number of writers had returned the awards and exactly 54 days after the first writer had returned the award, and requested the protesters to take back their awards.[8]

See also


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