List of Sahitya Akademi fellows

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Sahitya Akademi fellowship
Awarded by Sahitya Akademi
Category Literature (Individual)
Description Literary award in India
Instituted 1968
First awarded 1968
Last awarded 2016
Total awarded 92
First awardee(s) Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Last awardee(s)
Award rank
Sahitya Akademi Award →

The Sahitya Akademi fellowship is an Indian literary honour bestowed by the Sahitya Akademi, which is the Indian National Academy of Letters.[1] The Akademi states that, "the highest honour conferred by the Akademi on a writer is by electing him as its Fellow."[2]

History and Purpose[edit]

The appointment of Fellows to the Sahitya Akademi was based in part on models of academies of letters, and in particular, on the Academie Francaise's model of honouring literary excellent by electing writers as Members.[3] The initial Constitution of the Academy proposed a limited membership of twenty-one Fellows, who were to be "literary persons of outstanding merit".[4] The first General Committee recommended an expansion in the number of fellows, by including fifty Associate Fellows, as well as five Honorary Fellows. The latter provision was to enable the Akademi to honour foreign writers as well. Despite the inclusion of this provision, the Akademi did not make appointments to the position of Associate Fellows, and in 1999 the provision for their appointment was deleted.[4]

Soon after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru, who was the first President of the Sahitya Akademi, Mulk Raj Anand proposed that Nehru be elected as a Fellow of the Akademi posthumously. This proposal was rejected, and teh Akademi took the view that Fellowships would only be conferred upon living writers.[5] The General Council has, as a practice, refrained from electing its own members for the Fellowship, although there have been instances of members of the General Council become fellows after their term on the Council ends. A significant exception to this practice is the appointment of D. Jayakanthan as a Fellow while he was serving on the Council.[6]

The first Fellow of the Akademi, S. Radhakrishnan, was elected as Fellow in 1968, fourteen years after the Akademi was constituted. Radhakrishnan had previously served on the Council of the Sahitya Akademi, first as Vice-President, and later, as President.[6] He was appointed "in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Indian thought and to the tradition of universal humanism".[6] The first woman to be elected Fellow was Mahadevi Varma, in 1979, .[7] followed by three women writers in 1994 (Malayalam poetess Balamani Amma, Bengali novelist and poetess Ashapoorna Devi, and Urdu novelist Qurratulain Hyder). Hindi author Krishna Sobti was honoured in 1996, and English novelist Anita Desai in 2009.[8] On 16 February 2016, the Akademi announced the fellowship to Punjabi writer and novelist Gurdial Singh and Bengali poet Nirendranath Chakravarty. As of 2017, there are only 20 fellows of the Sahitya Akademi.[a][8][10]

Appointment of Fellowships[edit]

The Executive Board of the Akademi recommends the names of literary persons to be elected as Fellows and Honorary Fellows to the General Council. The General Council, who operates for the period of five years, holds an authority to elect a fellow based on the recommendation made by the Executive Board.[11]

The fellowship was established in 1968 and is limited to twenty individuals at any given time.[8] As of 2016, the fellowship has been conferred on 92 writers.[8][10]

In 1994, the Akademi began the practice of holding an event called 'Samvad' in which Fellows read from their work, and each reading was followed by discussions with a panel of critics and writers.[12] The participants in the first series included V. B. Kolte (Marathi scholar, writer, and critic), Harbhajan Singh (Punjabi writer and critic) and Nagarjun (Maithili and Hindi poet and novelist).[12]

Fellowships to Foreign Authors[edit]

In addition to twenty-one fellowships to Indian nationals, the Sahitya Akademi has also instituted three fellowships to international writers and scholars.

Honorary Fellowships[edit]

The Sahitya Akademi's Constitution provides for the appointment of 'Honorary Fellows' of the Akademi "from among literary persons of outstanding merit who are not nationals of India".[11] The number of such fellowships is limited to ten individuals at any given time, an increase from the original provision for five fellows.[4] The first Honorary Fellow of the Akademi was appointed in 1974: the poet, the first President of Senegal, and theorist of Négritude Léopold Sédar Senghor.[13] The citation provided to him records that "Senghor is one of the leading literary figures of the African continent. As a linguist he as been working to establish links between Dravidian, Sumerian, ancient Egyptian and African languages..."[14] In his acceptance speech, Senghor described himself as an "old admmirer of the Indian Civilisation," emphasizing his fondness for the poetry of Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore.[14]

Other Honorary Fellows of the Akademi include American linguist and Indologist Edward C. Dimock; American professor of Sanskrit, Daniel Henry Holmes Ingall; Czech scholar of Dravidian studies, Kamil Vaclav Zvelebil; Chinese professor of Indian literature and translator, Ji Xianlin; Greek diplomant, scholar and poet, Vassilis Vitsaxis; and Russian academic and scholar of Indian history, Evgeni Petrovich Chelyshev.[15]

The most recent recipient of the fellowship is a Mauritian poet, novelist Abhimanyu Unnuth who was awarded in the year 2013.[8] As of 2016, nine individuals have been elected as honorary fellows.

Ananda Coomaraswamy Fellowship[edit]

Named after a Sri Lankan Tamil philosopher Ananda Coomaraswamy, the "Ananda Coomaraswamy Fellowship" was instituted in 1996 and is offered to "a person of eminence in the field of Asian art, culture, literature and language studies" from Asian countries to pursue literary projects. It was announced on three individuals, Sri Lankan Archaeologist Senake Bandaranayake, Japanese author and anthropologist Chie Nakane, and Uzbekistani professor Azad N. Shamatov.[b] The fellowship was discontinued after its first conferral and was revived in 2005 but no conferment has been made since then.

Premchand Fellowship[edit]

The "Premchand Fellowship" is instituted in 2005 and is named after Hindi writer Premchand, who is popularly known as "Munshi Premchand", during his 125th Birth Anniversary. It is given to "a person of eminence in the field of culture and literature" doing research on Indian literature or to creative writers from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries other than India. The first and sole recipient of the fellowship is a Pakistani national and Urdu writer Intizar Hussain. The period of Fellowship for "Ananda Coomaraswamy Fellowship" and "Premchand Fellowship" ranges from one month to three months depending on the convenience and availability of the recipient. The visiting Fellow needs to submit a comprehensive report of their visit which is to be placed before the Executive Board and are requested to deliver lectures on the topic of their specialization in universities and institutions dealing in the discipline.[8]

List of fellows[edit]

A black and white photograph of man wearing glasses and white turban
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan is the first recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship.
A black and white photograph of man sitting in the chair wearing suit
Léopold Sédar Senghor is the first recipient of the Honorary Fellowship.
Current fellows of Sahitya Akademi (from top to bottom)
A photograph of an old woman wearing glasses.
A photograph of an old man wearing white kurta and glasses.
A photograph of an old man wearing blue suit and glasses.
Manoj Das (2006)
# Indicates a current fellow
dagger Indicates Honorary Fellowship
double-dagger Indicates Premchand Fellowship
Section-sign Indicates Ananda Coomaraswamy Fellowship
List of Sahitya Akademi fellows, showing the year[8][10]
Year Recipient
1968 Radhakrishnan, SarvepalliSarvepalli Radhakrishnan
1969 Bandyopadhyay, TarasankarTarasankar Bandyopadhyay
1969 Bendre, D. R.D. R. Bendre
1969 Pant, SumitranandanSumitranandan Pant
1969 Rajagopalachari, C.C. Rajagopalachari
1970 Basheer, Vaikom MuhammadVaikom Muhammad Basheer
1970 Gorakhpuri, FiraqFiraq Gorakhpuri
1970 Khandekar, Vishnu SakharamVishnu Sakharam Khandekar
1970 Satyanarayana, ViswanathaViswanatha Satyanarayana
1971 Kalelkar, Dattatreya BalkrushnaDattatreya Balkrushna Kalelkar
1971 Kaviraj, GopinathGopinath Kaviraj
1971 Panigrahi, Kalindi CharanKalindi Charan Panigrahi
1971 Singh, GurbakshGurbaksh Singh
1973 Iyengar, Masti VenkateshaMasti Venkatesha Iyengar
1973 Malkani, Mangharam UdharamMangharam Udharam Malkani
1973 Phukan, NilmoniNilmoni Phukan
1973 Mirashi, Vasudev VishnuVasudev Vishnu Mirashi
1973 Sen, SukumarSukumar Sen
1973 Trivedi, V. R.V. R. Trivedi
1974 Senghor, Léopold SédarLéopold Sédar Senghor dagger
1975 Meenakshisundaram, T. P.T. P. Meenakshisundaram
1979 Deshpande, Atmaram RavajiAtmaram Ravaji Deshpande
1979 Kumar, JainendraJainendra Kumar
1979 Puttappa 'Kuvempu', Kuppali VenkatappaKuppali Venkatappa Puttappa 'Kuvempu'
1979 Raghavan, V.V. Raghavan
1979 Varma, MahadeviMahadevi Varma
1985 Joshi, UmashankarUmashankar Joshi
1985 Iyengar, K. R. SrinivasaK. R. Srinivasa Iyengar
1985 Karanth, K. ShivaramaK. Shivarama Karanth
1989 Anand, Mulk RajMulk Raj Anand
1989 Gokak, Vinayaka KrishnaVinayaka Krishna Gokak
1989 Joshi, Laxmanshastri BalajiLaxmanshastri Balaji Joshi
1989 Nagar, AmritlalAmritlal Nagar
1989 Pillai, Thakazhi SivasankaraThakazhi Sivasankara Pillai
1989 Ray, Annada ShankarAnnada Shankar Ray
1994 Nagarjun, Nagarjun
1994 Amma, BalamaniBalamani Amma
1994 Devi, AshapoornaAshapoorna Devi
1994 Hyder, QurratulainQurratulain Hyder
1994 Kolte, Vishnu BhikajiVishnu Bhikaji Kolte
1994 Mohanty, Kanhu CharanKanhu Charan Mohanty
1994 Narasimhachar, P. T.P. T. Narasimhachar
1994 Narayan, R. K.R. K. Narayan
1994 Singh, HarbhajanHarbhajan Singh
1996 Jayakanthan, Jayakanthan
1996 Bandaranayake, SenakeSenake Bandaranayake Section-sign
1996 Dimock, Edward C.Edward C. Dimock dagger
1996 Ingalls Sr., Daniel H. H.Daniel H. H. Ingalls Sr. dagger
1996 Karandikar, VindaVinda Karandikar
1996 Nakane, ChieChie Nakane[b] Section-sign
1996 Mishra, Vidya NiwasVidya Niwas Mishra
1996 Mukhopadhyay, SubhashSubhash Mukhopadhyay
1996 Rao, RajaRaja Rao
1996 Routray, SachidanandaSachidananda Routray
1996 Shamatov, Azad N.Azad N. Shamatov Section-sign
1996 Sobti, KrishnaKrishna Sobti #
1996 Xianlin, JiJi Xianlin dagger
1996 Zvelebil, KamilKamil Zvelebil dagger
1999 Malik, Syed AbdulSyed Abdul Malik
1999 Narasimhaswamy, K. S.K. S. Narasimhaswamy
1999 Sarma, Gunturu SeshendraGunturu Seshendra Sarma
1999 Shah, RajendraRajendra Shah
1999 Sharma, Ram VilasRam Vilas Sharma
1999 Singh, N. KhelchandraN. Khelchandra Singh
2000 Dandekar, Ramchandra NarayanRamchandra Narayan Dandekar
2000 Rahi, RehmanRehman Rahi #
2001 Shastri, Ram NathRam Nath Shastri
2002 Azmi, KaifiKaifi Azmi
2002 Chelyshev, EugeneEugene Chelyshev dagger
2002 Pande, Govind ChandraGovind Chandra Pande
2002 Phookan, NilmaniNilmani Phookan #
2002 Sahni, BhishamBhisham Sahni
2002 Vitsaxis, VassilisVassilis Vitsaxis dagger
2004 Kovilan, Kovilan
2004 Ananthamurthy, U. R.U. R. Ananthamurthy
2004 Detha, VijaydanVijaydan Detha
2004 Ghosh, ShankhaShankha Ghosh #
2004 Krishnamurti, BhadrirajuBhadriraju Krishnamurti
2004 Pritam, AmritaAmrita Pritam
2004 Verma, NirmalNirmal Verma
2005 Hussain, IntizarIntizar Hussain double-dagger
2006 Das, ManojManoj Das #
2006 Prabhakar, VishnuVishnu Prabhakar
2007 Asher, Ronald E.Ronald E. Asher dagger
2007 Desai, AnitaAnita Desai #
2007 Duggal, Kartar SinghKartar Singh Duggal
2007 Kelekar, RavindraRavindra Kelekar
2009 Narang, Gopi ChandGopi Chand Narang #
2009 Rath, RamakantaRamakanta Rath #
2010 Amar, Chandranath MishraChandranath Mishra Amar #
2010 Narayan, KunwarKunwar Narayan #
2010 Patel, BholabhaiBholabhai Patel
2010 Singh, KedarnathKedarnath Singh #
2010 Singh, KhushwantKhushwant Singh
2013 Chaudhari, RaghuveerRaghuveer Chaudhari #
2013 Hasid, ArjanArjan Hasid #
2013 Mahapatra, SitakantSitakant Mahapatra #
2013 Nair, M. T. VasudevanM. T. Vasudevan Nair #
2013 Rai, AsitAsit Rai #
2013 Shastri, Satya VratSatya Vrat Shastri #
2013 Unnuth, AbhimanyuAbhimanyu Unnuth dagger
2014 Bhyrappa, Santeshivara LingannaiahSanteshivara Lingannaiah Bhyrappa #
2014 Reddy, C. NarayanaC. Narayana Reddy #
2016 Chakravarty, NirendranathNirendranath Chakravarty #
2016 Singh, GurdialGurdial Singh

See also[edit]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ Gurdial Singh, who was selected as fellow on 16 February 2016, died six months later on 16 August 2016.[9]
  2. ^ a b Out of three recipients, only Bandaranayake and Shamatov availed the fellowship and spent several weeks in India doing literary research. Nakane did not avail the fellowship.


  1. ^ Rao, D.S. (2004). Five Decades of The National Academy of Letters, India: A Short History of Sahitya Akademi. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 7. 
  2. ^ "Sahitya Akademi: Fellows and Honorary Fellows". Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  3. ^ Rao, D. S. (2004). Five Decades of The National Academy of Letters, India: A Short History of Sahitya Akademi. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 1. 
  4. ^ a b c Rao, D.S. (2004). Five Decades of The National Academy of Letters, India: A Short History of Sahitya Akademi. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 10. 
  5. ^ Rao, D. S. (2004). Five Decades of The National Academy of Letters, India: A Short History of Sahitya Akademi. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 20. 
  6. ^ a b c Rao, D.S. (2004). Five Decades of The National Academy of Letters, India: A Short History of Sahitya Akademi. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 21. 
  7. ^ Rao, D.S. (2004). Five Decades of The National Academy of Letters, India: A Short History of Sahitya Akademi. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 22. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g "Sahitya Akademi Fellows". Sahitya Akademi. Retrieved 15 December 2016. 
  9. ^ "Noted Punjabi writer Gurdial Singh passes away". The Indian Express. Bathinda. 16 August 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2017. 
  10. ^ a b c "Sahitya Akademi Fellowship Announced" (PDF) (Press release). New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2016. 
  11. ^ a b "Sahitya Akademi: The Constitution I". Sahitya Akademi. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  12. ^ a b Rao, D.S. (2004). Five Decades of The National Academy of Letters, India: A Short History of Sahitya Akademi. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 23. 
  13. ^ George 2013, p. 144.
  14. ^ a b Rao, D.S. (2004). Five Decades of The National Academy of Letters, India: A Short History of Sahitya Akademi. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 25. 
  15. ^ Rao, D.S. (2004). Five Decades of The National Academy of Letters, India: A Short History of Sahitya Akademi. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 26. 


External links[edit]