Government of India, India, Literature, Stories

39 Sahitya Akademi Awardees returned their Awards as per Government Records


Prominent Writers returned their Sahitya Akademi Awards protesting what they allege as rising intolerance in the country. According to records available with the Government, 39 writers returned their awards till date. 10 of the award returnees are Punjabi.


The ongoing debate on intolerance in the country was marked by the Award Wapsi campaign, where in writers & other noted personalities returned their awards. Prominent among them were the Sahitya Akademi Awardees. As per government records, a total of 39 people returned their Sahitya Akademi awards till date.

The Sahitya Akademi Awards

Sahitya Akademi, is the central institution for literary dialogue, publication and promotion in the country and the only institution that undertakes literary activities in 24 Indian languages, including English. The Akademi is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture. Every year, the Akademi gives 24 awards in the main category for contribution in the 22 recognized Indian languages and English & Rajasthani. An equal number of awards are also given for literary translations from and into languages of India.  The Akademi also gives special Bhasha Samman & Yuva Puraskar Awards.

The Languages Awardees come from

A total of 39 writers returned their Sahitya Akademi Awards till date. 10 of the Award returnees were Punjabi. Seven of them won the award in Hindi followed by English (4), Kannada (4), two each from Kashmiri, Rajasthani, Telugu and Urdu, one each from Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalam & Marathi. About 10 languages did not see a single award being returned.

sahitya academy awards return_number of awards returned per language

When did they win their Awards?

Two-thirds of those who returned their awards were awarded after the year 2000. Three of those who returned their awards won these awards in the seventies, an equal number in the eighties and seven of them in the nineties. 14 of those who returned the awards won them between the years 2000 and 2010 while 12 of them won the award after 2010.

sahitya academy awards return_year in which they won their awards

Which party was in power when they were given these awards?

Out of the 39 awards returned, 10 of them won their awards when the NDA was in power, 5 of them when the third front parties (Janata Parivar, Janata Dal, United Front etc) were in power and the rest when the Congress or UPA was in power.

What has been the Government’s Response?

Sahitya Akademi had convened a special Executive Board meeting in which a Resolution was passed condemning the attack on and murder of any writer or artist and requesting the writers, who had returned the awards, to reconsider their decision.

The Complete list of Award Returnees

sahitya academy awards return_complete list of award returnees 1

sahitya academy awards return_complete list of award returnees 2


About Author

Rakesh has been working on issues related to Right to Information (RTI) for a decade. He is a Data/Information enthusiast & passionate about Governance/Policy issues.

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