The Annual Sahitya Akademi Award
Every year since its inception in 1954, the Sahitya Akademi Award prizes to the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the major Indian languages recognised by the Akademi. The award amount, which was Rs.5,000 since inception, had been enhanced to Rs.10,000 from 1983, Rs.25,000 from 1988, Rs.40,000 from 2001, Rs.50,000 from 2003 and is now Rs.1,00,000 from 2009. The first Awards were given in 1955.
Rules of Award
- Subject to the provision of rule 1(2), there shall be an award every year for the most outstanding original book by an Indian author published in India, first published in any of the languages recognized by the Sahitya Akademi (hereinafter referred to as the Akademi) during the five years prior to the year, immediately preceding the year of the award.
- The award for any language may not be given during any year if, in the opinion of the Jury constituted in pursuance of rule 5 (1), no book published in that language during the five years preceding the year of the award merits the award.
- The award shall consist of such amount as the Akademi may from time to time decide besides a citation that brings out, briefly, the book’s significance and its author’s contribution to his/her language and literature.
- Where two or more books are found to be of equal merit, the total literary contribution and standing of their authors shall be taken into consideration in consideration in deciding the award.
- The author must be of Indian nationality.
- The Award will be considered only if there is minimum of three books in the final stage selection.
Illustration: For the award of 2004, books published between 1998 and 2002 would be considered.
(2). Criteria of eligibility for the Award
- In order to be eligible for the award, the book must be an outstanding contribution to the language and literature to which it belongs. The book may be a creative or a critical work, but must not be
- a work of translation; or
- an anthology of multiple authors; or
- an abridgement, or a compilation, or an annotation; or
- a treatise or research work prepared for a university degree or any examination; or
- the work of an author who has earlier won an award from the Akademi (other than the Translation Prize, Bal Sahitya Puraskar and Yuva Puraskar); or
- a recipient of Bhasha Samman; or
- the Fellow of Sahitya Akademi; or
- the work of an author who is a member of the Executive Board of the Akademi.
- A fresh collection of writings published earlier in book form, or revised editions of books published earlier, are not eligible for Award. However, if at least 75% of the work included in a collection has been published for the first time in book form, it can be considered for Award.
- An incomplete work may be considered for the award only if the part that comprises the book is complete in itself.
- A posthumous publication is eligible for Award only if the author has died within the five year period stipulated for the award or later.
Illustration : An author who has died before 2008 would not be eligible for the award of 2014.
- A book shall be disqualified for the award if it is established to the satisfaction of the Executive Board that canvassing has been done by the author.
- Books will not be submitted directly from authors and publishers.
(3). Preparation of the Ground list and obtaining recommendations from members of the Language Advisory Board
- The Akademi shall have every year a ground list prepared of eligible books of each recognized language. Preparation of the ground list shall be entrusted to two experts.
- Each Language Advisory Board member shall send a panel of not more than five names and the President of the Akademi (hereafter referred to as the President) shall choose the experts out of this panel.
- In preparing the ground list, the expert or experts shall strictly conform to the criteria of eligibility laid down in these rules. The ground list so prepared along with the ground list of the previous year shall be sent to all the members of the concerned Language Advisory Board (including the Convener) with the request to recommend two titles each by such date as may be specified by the Akademi. A member may select:
- both the titles from the ground list, or
- one title from the ground list and the other on his/her own, or
- both the titles on his/her own.
(4). The Preliminary Panel and its Functions
- The Preliminary Panel shall consist of ten Referees.These Referees shall be nominated by the President after considering suggestions of the members of the Language Advisory Board concerned.
- The recommendations received from members of the Language Advisory Board shall be compiled and sent to each Referee.
- Each Referee should recommend two books. These titles may be selected either out of the list sent in pursuance of rule 4 (2) above or by the Referee on his/her own.
(5). The Jury and its Functions
- The recommendations of Referees in the Preliminary Panel shall be considered by a three-member Jury. The Jury members shall be selected by the President after considering the recommendations in this behalf by the members of the Language Advisory Board concerned.
- The Akademi shall purchase the books recommended by the Referees in the Preliminary Panel and send them to the Jury members and to the Convener.
- The Convener shall act as the link between the the Jury and the Akademi. In the absence of the Convener, President can nominate a General Council or Advisory Board Member as a replacement. He/she will ensure that the meeting of the Jury is conducted properly and satisfactorily and will countersign the report of the Jury.
- The Jury members shall, either by consensus or by majority, recommend a book for the award. They may also recommend that, in their opinion, no book is eligible for the award during the year. All the members have to attend the meeting, however, only in case of emergency he/she may convey his/her views in writing. He/she should be provided with the facility of participating in the discussion through phone.
(6). Declaration of Award
- The recommendation of the Jury shall be placed before the Executive Board for formal approval and announcement of the award. The names of the Jury members and the short-listed books in the final stage shall be made public simultaneously with the announcement of the Award.
- If the time limit for submission of the recommendations is not observed by a member of the Language Advisory Board or by a Referee, the Akademi shall presume that he or she has no recommendation to make and shall proceed accordingly unless, in any particular case, it is in a position to extend the time limit and actually does so.
- The award ceremony shall be held on such date and at such place as the Executive Board/President may decide.
- In the event of the death of an award-winning author before conferment of the award, it shall be given to his/her spouse or to a legal heir.