Vice-Prez confers Sangeet Natak Akademi, Lalit Kala Akademi Awards
Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu conferred the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship and Sangeet Natak Awards for the year 2018 and National Awards of Lalit Kala Akademi 2021 to eminent artists at a special function held in New Delhi. Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship was given to four artists while 40 others were honoured with Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards. Lalit Kala Akademi Awards were given to 23 personalities including three fellows. The four fellows, who have been awarded with Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, are Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, Jatin Goswami, Dr. Sonal Mansingh and Thiruvidaimarudur Kuppiah Kalyanasundaram. They have been honoured for their eminent contribution in the field of the Performing Arts. The Lalit Kala Akademi has awarded the prestigious Fellowships to three outstanding artists Himmat Shah, Jyoti Bhatt and Shyam Sharma.
Speaking at the Sangeet Natak Akademi and Lalit Kala Akademi awards ceremony here, the Vice President also emphasised that due importance should be given to mother tongues at all levels, be it at government functions, in teaching or in courts. Many unsung heroes made sacrifices but their stories remain largely unknown to the masses as they did not get enough attention in history books, Naidu said. Recognising the unrecognised is our duty. Our cinema, other art forms, music and literature should pay enough attention to this aspect. It is very much important to rejuvenate our great cultural past and the sacrifices made, he said.
Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards are national honours bestowed by the government on performing artists as well as teachers and scholars in the field of performing arts. The awards were given out in the categories of music, dance, and theatre. In addition, one category was reserved for traditional, folk, and tribal dance, music, theatre and puppetry. An award each was also given for overall contribution and scholarship in Performing Arts. The National Exhibition of Art is organised annually by the Lalit Kala Akademi as it’s the most prestigious event, showcasing the brilliance and capacious oeuvre of the awarded artists.
The 62nd National Exhibition organised this year is a platform to showcase the outstanding artists on a nationwide scale. The festival of Performing Arts showcasing the Akademi awardees will continue for a period of eleven days bringing to the audience a delectable range of performances from across the length and breadth of the country and ranging over a wide spectrum of genres such as music, dance, drama, folk and tribal and allied arts and puppetry.
Throughout the years, there have been many criticisms and praises for the Sahitya Akademi. While some have viewed the institution as the “literary mafia in Delhi” — pointing to favouritism and “traditions of backscratching”, others take a balanced view. Poets, academics and former members acknowledge the shortcomings of the institution but are staunch advocates of its autonomy and democratic make-up. They say it’s the Indian writers in English who find fault with the organisation precisely because they have access to the resources and opportunities that bhasha (vernacular language) writers don’t. But a crucial exclusion before passing a verdict has been that of its activities outside of awards and archival projects.
In the age of ‘Digital India’, a larger question that looms over the Sahitya Akademi is whether it can keep up with the changing literary landscape of the country. Mere survival of the institution almost 70 years into its existence is not enough, Sahitya Akademi needs to take the next step — to sustain and flourish. As the only institution with the burden of carrying literature across hundreds of languages, it almost feels unfair to criticise it. But there is an increasing disconnect between youth and the Sahitya Akademi — a reality it needs to address. With Sahitya Akademi, there’s never been a question of not doing enough. It’s a question of doing it well.
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