The Sahitya Akademi on Friday said some of the writers, including Nayantara Sahgal, have agreed to take back the awards they had returned citing ‘growing intolerance’ in the country.
“Sahitya Akademi has started sending back the awards to the writers…It has already been sent to Nayantara Sahgal.
Another writer Nand Bhardwaj has also agreed to take back the award. It would be sent to other writers as well,” Sahitya Akademi president Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari said.
He said the Akademi is also sending a copy of their resolution, which was passed in the October meeting, to all writers mentioning that there was no provision in its Constitution to return the honours.
In October 2015, Sahgal had returned the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award in protest of the “vanishing space” for diversity.
Sahgal, niece of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and one of the first to join the ‘award waapsi’ campaign, agreed to take back her award in view of the contention that there is no provision to return it.
Nayantara Sahgalsaid, “The Akademi wrote a letter to me saying it is against their policy to receive returned award and therefore they are sending back the award. I will use the money for a worthwhile cause and welfare schemes.”
Rajasthani writer Nand Bhardwaj has also reportedly taken his award back. Bharadwaj had sent back the prize money of Rs 50,000 as a mark of protest against the killing of rationalists – including MM Kalburgi – and the Dadri beef lynching incident of September 2015. Bhardwaj contended that he was satisfied by the Akademi’s response to the whole movement.
About 40 writers had returned their awards in the past few months in the backdrop of Akademi’s silence on the murder of writer M.M. Kalburgi as well against the “communal” atmosphere in the country following the Dadri lynching incident.
Meanwhile, a Culture Ministry source said, “There is a list of 10 writers, who have agreed to take back the awards they had returned. Ms. Sahgal and Mr. Bhardwaj are two confirmed names in the list.”
Not all agreed to this though. Poet Ashok Vajpeyi said, “I have received the resolution and the letter from the Akademi but I don’t think that its conduct as an autonomous institution devoted to excellence has been rehabilitated. So I don’t think there is reason enough for me to reconsider the decision of taking the award back.”