Literary awards in India are not limited to Sahitya Akademi Awards or JCB Literary Prize. For even though they are prestigious honours, regional languages often go unrecognised and authors are left unknown to the majority of the population. Here’s a list of lesser-known but distinguished literary awards honouring long-standing literary icons of Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, etc. languages.
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Charushila Pratibha Award
Description: Instituted by the Charushila Vamayya Pratishthan, founded by Mrs Charushila Mishra, the Charushila Pratibha Award is among the literature awards in Nepal that honours eminent litterateurs of Nepali literature.
First Awarded In 2019
This year awarded to: Ranjana Niraula
Description: The Janasthan Award is one of the highest awards in Marathi literature. Kavishrestha Shri V.Va. Shirwadkar started honouring literary writers with this award for their outstanding contribution to Marathi literature. Now this award is given every two years on Kusumagraja’s memorial day by the Kusumagraja Institute in Nashik.
First Awarded In 1991
This year awarded to: Asha Bage
Akshara Mudra Award
Description: All India Malayalee Association (AIMA) is the largest association of Keralites living outside their home state in India. Akshara Mudra Award instituted by AIMA is conferred annually to an impressive literary work. After considering outstanding literary contributions in the fields of story, novel, poetry, screenplay, etc., a duly constituted jury determines the award. The award consists of a citation and a cash reward of Rs 50,000.
First Awarded In 2016
This year awarded to: C Radhakrishnan
Description: Thap Award by Amar Ujala is conferred upon a Hindi writer for their debut work, dedicated to the first beat of creation. There is no age limit and the honorarium is one lakh rupees. The award is given to works selected from a genre randomly selected.
First Awarded In 2018
This year awarded to: Anushakti Singh
Description: Akashdeep Awarsd by Amar Ujala is the highest title given to honour the overall contribution of continuous creativity and the promotion of human values to Hindi literature. This highest honour is given to outstanding personalities of Hindi and another Indian language. Akashdeep Alankaran, a symbol of continuous guiding light – is awarded an honorarium of five lakh rupees.
First Awarded In 2018
Dasarathi Sahitya Puraskar
Description: Dasarathi Sahitya Puraskar is an award given by the Telangana State Government under the auspices of the Telangana State Department of Language and Culture every year on the occasion of Dasarathi Krishnamacharya’s birth anniversary (July 22) to those who have worked in the field of literature in Telangana state.
First Awarded In 2015
This year awarded to: Venu Sankoju
Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award
Description: The Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award is given each year by the Kerala Sahitya Akademi (Kerala Literary Academy), to Malayalam writers for their outstanding books of literary merit. The awards are given in various categories. The Kerala Sahitya Akademi Fellowship is also awarded to induct Malayalam writers as distinguished members of the Akademi.
First Awarded In 1958
This year awarded to:
Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar
Description: The Yuva Puraskar, also known as Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar, is a literary honour in India which Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters, annually confers on young writers of outstanding works in one of the 24 major Indian languages. It recognises young writers under the age of 35, intending to encourage and promote young writers. It comprises a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 and an engraved copper plaque.
First Awarded In 2011
This year awarded to: Mihir Vatsa (English), Salge Hansda (Santhali)
To view the winners of the other languages, click here.
Prof Nirpjit Kaur Gill Memorial Award
Description: This award was established by Prof. Gurbhajan Singh Gill in memory of his wife late Prof. Nirpjit Kaur Gill. She was a lecturer of Punjabi at Ramgarhia Girls College and died at a young age due to cancer on November 8, 1993. She made valuable contributions to the field of literature and culture. General Secretary of Punjabi Sahitya Academy Dr Guriqbal Singh said that in this award each awardee would be facilitated with a cash prize of Rs 21,000 in addition to a letter of appreciation and a Phulkari. This award is given only to retired university and college teachers, who made unique contributions to the field of Punjabi teaching, literature and culture.
First Awarded In 2014
This year awarded to: Dr Iqbal Kaur Sondh, Dr Vanita, Dr Baljit Kaur
Shakti Bhatt Prize
Description: The Shakti Bhatt Prize is a literary award established in memory of Indian publisher, Shakti Bhatt. Between 2008 and 2019, it was awarded for the first book published in India by an author of any age in the genres of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and drama. From 2020 onward, the Prize has been awarded in recognition of a writer’s body of work, instead of a first book. The prize amount is ₹200,000.
First Awarded In 2008
This year awarded to: Manoranjan Byapari
Asan Memorial Poetry Prize
Description: The Asan Memorial Poetry Prize or Asan Smaraka Kavitha Puraskaram is a literary award instituted in 1985 by the Madras-based Asan Memorial Association in memory of Malayalam poet Kumaran Asan. The award honours outstanding poets in Malayalam literature. The award carries a cash award of Rs 50,000, a citation and a specially crafted memento.
First Awarded In 1985
This year awarded to K Jayakumar
Hermann Kesten Prize
Description: The Hermann Kesten Prize, formally the Hermann Kesten Medal, is a German literary award presented annually for outstanding efforts in support of persecuted writers, on behalf of PEN Centre Germany according to the principles of the Charter of International PEN. It is named in honour of the German novelist and dramatist Hermann Kesten (1900–1996). Until 1993, it was awarded every two years, since 1994 it has been given annually. As of 2000, the Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts has endowed the award with a prize of €10,000.
First Awarded In 1985
This year awarded to: Meena Kandasamy
Description: The Mundassery Award was instituted by the Mundassery Cultural Study Centre for comprehensive contributions to literature and the cultural field. The award includes a cash prize of Rs 50,000, a citation and a sculpture designed by Karakkamandapam Vijayakumar.
This year awarded to: Dr M Leelavathy
Harmony India Lifetime Achievement Award
Description: These honours are the dedicated efforts to recognise, thank, acknowledge, appreciate and encourage the contributions of the creative personalities, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, journalists, sportspersons, and social activists, who have outshined in their respective fields, have brought glory to the success of Jammu & Kashmir and have immensely contributed to the growth and development of our nation.
First Awarded In 2014
This year awarded to: Prof Ratan Lal Shant
Sahitya Akademi Award (English)
Description: Every year since its inception in 1954, the Sahitya Akademi Award prizes 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.
First Awarded In 1955
This year awarded to: Anuradha Roy (English), M Rajendran (Tamil), Madhuranthakam Narendra (Telegu), Janardan Prasad Pandey ‘Mani’ (Sanskrit), Manoj Kumar Goswami (Assamese), Mohammed Shaikh (Gujarati). Click here to view other award winners.
Description: The Saraswati Samman is an annual award for outstanding prose or poetry literary works in any of the 22 languages of India listed in Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India. It is named after the Hindu goddess of knowledge, Saraswati. The Saraswati Samman was instituted by the K. K. Birla Foundation. It consists of ₹15,00,000, a citation and a plaque. Candidates are selected from literary works published in the previous ten years by a panel that includes scholars and former award winners. The inaugural award was given to Harivanshrai ‘Bachchan’ for his four-volume autobiography, Kya Bhooloon Kya Yaad Karoon, Needa Ka Nirman Phir, Basere Se Door and Dashdwar se Sopan Tak.
First Awarded In 1991
This year awarded to: Sivasankari