Literature Awards in India for 2021

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When you think of literature awards in India, we think of the JCB Prize, the Sahitya Akademi Prize, or Jnanpith Award which is India’s highest literary honour. But did you know that each State, each State Sahitya Akademi, several foundations, organizations, too give out literature awards in India?

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In our for books published or awarded in 2021.

Parag Honour List

Description: While not exactly a literature award, the Parag Honours List is a curated collection of outstanding books in English and in Hindi, for children and young adults, by the Parag Initiative of Tata Trusts. It aims to promote access to a comprehensive curated list of good quality children’s literature that librarians, teachers, parents and children can refer to and read. Parag Honour List 2022 features 44 books in Hindi and English for children, young adults

First Compiled In: 2020

Features: Jamlo Walks, Our World/Humari Duniya, Sometimes Mama, Sometimes Papa, A Germ of an Idea, among others.

Link: Parag Reads

Bihari Puraskar

Description: The Bihari Puraskar is one of the three literary awards instituted by the KK Birla Foundation. The Bihari Puraskar is awarded every year for outstanding work published in the last 10 years by a Rajasthani author in Hindi or Rajasthani. The recipient is chosen by a selection committee headed by chairman Om Thanvi.

First Awarded In: 1991

This year awarded to: Madhu Kankaria for her book Hum Yahaan The (हम यहां थे).

Link: Full list of past winners

Thakazhi Memorial Award

Description: The award was instituted by Thakazhi Smaraka Samiti and Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala in the memory of renowned writer Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai. It includes of Rs. 50,000, a citation and a plaque. The first award was received by Prof. G. Balachandran for his work Thakazhiyude Sargapadhangal, a study on the life and works of Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai. Except for the inaugural award, the award has been given for a writer’s overall contributions to Malayalam literature.

First Awarded In: 2014

This year awarded to: M. Leelavathi

Link: The Hindu

Sahitya Akademi Award

Description: The Sahitya Akademi Award is a literary honour in India, which the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters, annually confers on writers of the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the 24 major Indian languages such as Kannada, Hindi, Tamil, English, Bengali, Punjabi and the 22 official languages of India.

First Awarded In: 1954

This year awarded to: Namita Gokhale for Things to Leave Behind

Link: Firstpost

Women Writer’s Prize

Description: Presented by SheThePeople, the Women Writer’s Prize aims to shine light on the wide range of women’s writing, which is often made invisible by awarding insitutions. It includes a cash prize of Rs. 50,000, split between author and translator in case of translated books winning the award.

First Awarded In: 2021

This year awarded to: Budhini, written by Sarah Joseph and translated by Sangeetha Sreenivasan.

Link: SheThePeople

CV Kunhiraman Literary Prize

Description: CV Kunhiraman literary prize is awarded by the CV Kunhiraman Foundation. The prize consists of ₹10,001 in cash, a citation, and a statuette.

First Awarded In: 2014

This year awarded to: Sethu (A. Sethumadhavan)

Link: The Hindu

AutHer Awards

Description: The AutHer Awards – a joint venture between JK Paper and Times of India — is a celebration of women authors who have added value and creativity to the literary space.

First Awarded In: 2018

This year awarded to: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni for The Last Queen (Fiction). Shrayana Bhattacharya for her book Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh (Non-fiction). Farah Bashir for her book Rumours of Spring (Debut Author). Shabnam Minwalla for Murder at Daisy Apartments (Children’s Literature). Neenv Raju Akunuri for Silent Screams (Popular Choice). Divya Dutta The Stars in My Sky: Those who Brightened My Film Journey (Special Recognition).

Link: AutHer Awards

literature awards in india

Vani Foundation Distinguished Translator Award

Description: The Vani Foundation Distinguished Translators Award honors those translators of Indian nationality who have consistently and qualitatively facilitated literary and linguistic exchange between at least two Indian or international languages.

First Awarded In: 2016

This year awarded to: Arunava Sinha

Link: Vani Foundation

Mahakavi Kanhaiyalal Sethia Award for Poetry

Description: The Jaipur Literature Festival, in association with the KL Sethia Foundation, established the award in memory of Mahakavi Kanhaiyalal Sethia, a renowned Rajasthani and Hindi poet. 

First Awarded In: 2015

This year awarded to: Ranjeet Hoskote

Link: Jaipur Literature Festival

Kannada Varsity Nadoja Award

Description: The Nadoja Award (Kannada: ನಾಡೋಜ ಪ್ರಶಸ್ತಿ) is a prestigious award presented annually by Kannada University, Hampi, India to eminent personalities for their contribution in various fields. The word “Nadoja” belongs to Adikavi Pampa which means ‘teacher to the Land’s’.

First Awarded In: 1995

This year awarded to: Go Ru Channabasappa, Prof T. V. Venkatachala Sastry, and Bhashyam Swamy

Link: Deccan Herald

Vanmali Samman

Description: The Vanmali literature awards have been instituted by Vanmali Srijan Peeth and Rabindra Nath Tagore University (RNTU) in memory of the late Jagannath Prasad Choube Vanmali, an acclaimed Hindi writer. The two major awards carry a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh each, a shawl and a citation. The others carry a cash prize of Rs 51,000.

First Awarded In: 2021

This year awarded to: Vanmali Kathasheersh Samman to Professor Dhananjay Verma. Vanmali Rashtriya Katha Samman to Geetanjali Shree.

Vanmali Katha Madhya Pradesh Samman to Hari Bhatnagar, Vanmali Yuva Katha Samman to Bengaluru-based young writer Chandan Pandey, Vanmali Katha Aalochna Samman to Delhi-based Vaibhav Singh, and Vanmali Sahityik Patrika Samman to the monthly magazine Kathadesh which is published from Delhi, he said.

Vanmali Pravasi Bhartiya Katha Samman award will be given to London-based Divya Mathur. Vanmali Vigyan Katha Samman to Delhi-based science writer Devendra Mewadi.

Link: The Wire

Padma Shri Awards

Description: adma Shri (IAST: padma śrī), also spelled Padma Shree, is the fourth-highest civilian award of the Republic of India, after the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan. It is awarded by the Government of India every year on India’s Republic Day. They are awarded to Indians in recognition of their distinguished contribution in various spheres of activity including the arts, education, industry, literature, science, acting, medicine, social service and public affairs.

First Awarded In: 1954

This year awarded to: Poet P. Narayana Kurup for literature

Link: New Indian Express

Luminous Lummer Dai Literary Award

Description: Awarded by the The Arunachal Pradesh Literary Society (APLS), in honour of the luminary Lummer Dai,. It comprises a specially designed trophy, a citation, and a cash award of Rs 10,000.

First Awarded In: 2016

This year awarded to: Ajanta

Link: Arunachal Times

New India Foundation Translation Fellowship

Description: The New India Foundation fellowships aim to “foster scholarship and writing around all aspects of independent India” and “provide a wider audience for Indian-language texts are awarded for a six-month period”. They carry with them a stipend of Rs 6 lakh per translator/team. Additionally, the foundation notes that the fellowships also offer direct mentorship under the NIF’s Language Expert Committee as well as its trustees.

First Awarded In: 2021

This year awarded to: The awardees are literary translator Venkateswar Ramaswamy and statistician Amlan Biswas, who will translate Nirmal Kumar Bose’s Diaries 1946-47 from Bangla;  academician and literary historian N.S. Gundur, who will translate D.R. Nagaraj’s Allamaprabhu Mattu Shaiva Pratibhe from Kannada; and academician and historian Rahul Sarwate, who will translate Sharad Patil’s Marxvad: Phule-Ambedkarvaad from Marathi.

Link: The Wire


Prakruti Maniar is editor and partner of Purple Pencil Project, and hustles as a writer, researcher and more. She is deeply invested in cultural heritage, especially stories, and is committed to saving the literary heritage of India. She has a Master of Arts in Digital Humanities from Loyola University Chicago.

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