Sahitya Akademi is aware of the rich cultural and linguistic variety prevalent in India and does not believe in a forced standardisation of culture through a bulldozing of levels and attitudes. At the same time, it is also conscious of the deep inner cultural, spiritual, historical and experiential links that unify India's diverse manifestations of literature.
Inspite of the pan-Indian character of our literature, writers and readers in one language know very little of what is being written in the neighbouring linguistic area. It is, therefore, necessary to devise methods by which Indian writers may come to know each other, across the barriers of language and script, and appreciate the immense variety and complexity of their country's literary heritage.
Sahitya Akademi's programmes are so designed as to heighten literary awareness among the common readers, to provide a platform of dialogue for writers of various languages, to create opportunities for academics to discuss issues of literature and aesthetics, to encourage critics to reassess their canons, methodologies and tools of analysis and re-evaluate classical, medieval and modern authors' texts and trends and to bring the readers face to face with established as well as upcoming authors. Sahitya Akademi holds, on an average, one hundred and fifty literary programmes and activities of various types and scales every year. Annual seminars in each of the 24 recognised languages are held following the suggestions from the 24 language advisory boards - consisting of ten significant writers / scholars / critics from each - whose constitution changes every five years. These boards also suggest National Seminars on certain important themes or on writers and texts whose centenaries, bicentenaries etc. are being celebrated in a particular year. There are also regional Seminars suggested by the four Regional Boards where the accent is on comparative literature and criticism.
International Seminars involving scholars from abroad are also held at regular intervals as those held in recent years on 'Narratives', on 'Indology at Crossroads', on 'The Ramayana Tradition' and on 'Mirza Ghalib's Worlds'. Symposia on topics and authors of contemporary relevance and workshops on genres and for inter-language translations are also held from time to time. There has recently been a special emphasis on tribal and folk literatures and the new literatures of the marginalised sections meant to make our programmes more democratic and to share popular concerns. We are also trying to carry our programmes and activities to the interior parts of the country. Besides Seminars, Symposia and Workshops, the Akademi's programmes include Meet the Author, Samvad, Kavisandhi, Kathasandhi, Men and Books, Through My Window, Mulakat, Asmita, Antaral, Avishkar, Loka: The Many Voices , Seminars, Samvatsar Lectures, Workshops on, Literary Translations, Travel Grants to Authors, Cultural Exchange Programmes, etc. details of which are given in the relevant places in the web site.
Festival of Letters
In February every year, Sahitya Akademi holds a week-long Festival of Letters. It begins with the ceremony to present the Akademi's Annual Awards for creative writing.
Awards are given away by the President of the Akademi. There will also be a very eminent writer as Chief Guest at the function. This is preceded by an Annual Exhibition highlighting the major literary events of the previous year organized by the Akademi. The books published during the year are also on show.
On the second day morning there is a Writers' Meet where the awardees share their creative experience with the readers. That evening there is the annual lecture, the Samvatsar Lecture, delivered by a distinguished writer/critic on a chosen literary topic. The next three days are set apart for a literary seminar on a contemporary topic in which about sixty creative writers/scholars from around the country and sometimes from abroad participate.
The Sahitya Akademi organises seminars at international, national and regional level on literary topics as also to mark birth centenaries of eminent writers. Seminars involving topics and writers in the 24 languages are held regularly.
Initiated in 1986, the annual lectures of the Sahitya Akademi known as Samvatsar Lectures are given by a distinguished writer and a creative thinker who has a thorough understanding of Indian literature. These lectures may reflect a deep concern for values and should open up new vistas of thinking regarding a literary movement, a current literary trend, some original thinking about a great writer or a great classic or a new path in literary criticism or literary creation. Name of the writers and scholars who have delivered these lectures are given here
Meet the Author
Since 1987, Sahitya Akademi, periodically arranges a programme called Meet the Author in which a distinguished writer is invited to speak on his life and works so that other writers and scholars have a deep and personal understanding of the writer and his writings. The speech lasting for about 40 minutes is usually followed by a lively discussion for another 30 to 40 minutes. Initially the programme was planned to be held in New Delhi only, but these are also held in Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai where the Akademi has its offices and other cities.
The new literary programme Kavi-Anuvadak which began in 2001 provides an opportunity for the audience to enjoy poetry in original from the poet and translation from a translator.
People and Books
To complement the Meet the Author series, the Sahitya Akademi started another series entitled Men and Books in 1989, in which distinguished persons from interdisciplinary areas are invited to give lectures. For example, a nuclear scientist, a surgeon, a musician, a painter, a dancer, a mathematician or a legal expert is requested to speak on literary books which he/she has enjoyed reading or which has given him/her new insights. The speaker is requested to speak for about 40 minutes after which the audience interacts with him/her.
Through My Window
Launched in 1993, in this series, an eminent writer presents his or her impression on the life and works of another eminent contemporary writer.
A series of programme under the title Samvad was started in 1994 by Sahitya Akademi to honour Fellows of the Sahitya Akademi so that readers and lovers of literature have an opportunity to hear the author read from his or her own works. In the same programme a panel of critics and writers discuss various facets of the fellow's work and interact with him.
It is a special platform for younger writers from different languages who have hardly any chances of exposure of their literary calibre. The programme consists of reading from the creative works, talks and exchanges. The first programme was held with readings by Uday Prakash, N.S. Madhavan and Gita Hariharan on 26 November 1996.
It is a programme for writers in search of a collective identity. The first programme was held with the participation of three women poets in the year 1996.
The literary programme Avishkar which was started in 1998 provides an opportunity to the readers a new search in the works of the doyens of Indian literature.
A series of End-Century lectures of interdisciplinary nature, evaluating the experience and knowledge of the' passing century and prospects of the coming century began in 1997. Under this programme the following dignitaries have participated so far.
Loka : The Many Voices
A programme on folklore consisting of lectures as well as demonstrations was started in the years 1996. The following programmes have been held.
In the year 1996, programme for fiction writers where excerpts from a new novel being written or recent short stories are read and discussed. The following writers have participated until now.
This literary programme Kavisandhi was started in year 1996 with the aim of giving poetry lovers an opportunity to hear poetry being read out by the poet himself/herself.
One of the important activities of the Akademi is to organise national, regional and language workshops of literary translation with the aim of bringing together translators from different parts of the country, giving them a grounding in the theoretical and practical aspects of translation, and preparing them to meet the challenges that the translators have to face, especially in the multilingual Indian set up.
In 1976 Sahitya akademi began to organise workshops where writers could live together for a few days, practice their art in the company of fellow- writers, exchange views and tackle practical problems. General workshops were held in 1976 at Madras and Bombay. Experience showed that the workshops would be more fruitful if the writers in a particular workshop come from a specified genre. Accordingly the Akademi organised several genre wise workshops. However, it was felt over the period that India being a large country and had many languages which had not been linked directly even by basic tools of reference like dictionaries, not to mention the absence of competent translators. Available translators needed theoretical grounding in literary translation and practical experience. Towards their end, a National Workshop was inauguarated in New Delhi on 15 December 1986 by Sri P.V. Narasimha Rao which was followed by Regional Workshops in Srinagar, Trivandrum and Kolkata.
Two more National Workshops on Literary Translation, one from 19 December 1988 to 7 January 1989 and another from 20 December 1991 to 2 January 1992 were organised in New Delhi. In all these Workshops, a number of practising translators participated and worked under the guidance of senior scholars and specialists. As recommended in the second National Workshop, the Akademi started organising target language literary translation workshops where practising translators were expected to work on literary pieces under the guidance of experts. These translations are expected to be published. The Akademi has so far organised such target language workshops in Assamese, Bengali, Dogri, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Telugu, Urdu, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Khasi, Garo, Bodo, Mising, Hmar, Karbi and Kokborok.