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 Akademy. 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 and is now Rs.50,000 from 2003. The first Awards were given in 1955.
Criteria of Eligibility for the Award
1. 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
1. A work of translation; or
2. An anthology; or
3. An abridgement, or a compilation, or an annotation; or
4. A treatise or research work prepared for a university degree or any examination;
5. The work of an author who has earlier won an award from the Akademi (other than the Translation Prize);
6. The work of an author who is a member of the Executive Board of the Akademi.
2. 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.
3. An incomplete work may be considered for the award only if the part that comprises the book is complete in itself.
4. A posthumous publication is eligible for Award only if the author has died within the three year period stipulated for the award or later.
Illustration : An author who has died before 2000 would not be eligible for the award of 2004.
5. 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.