Sarah Joseph returns Sahitya Akademi award, Satchidanandan resigns


The Malayalam literary world too has come out against the communal policies of the central government.

New Delhi/Thrissur: The Malayalam literary world too has come out against the communal policies of the central government. Eminent writer Sarah Joseph has decided to return the Kendra Sahitya Akademi award. On the heels of this development, poet and critic Satchidanandan resigned his membership of Kendra Sahitya Akademi.

Satchidanandan resigned his membership from the general council and executive council of the Akademi. "I am sorry to observe that the Akademi has failed in its duty to stand with the writers and to uphold the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution that seems to be getting violated everyday in the country," the writer said.

"I had written to the Akademi when MM Kalburgi was killed earlier. They had held condolences in Bangalore but they should have done something nationally. There was no response to my request to pass a resolution," Satchidanandan said. Observing that the Sahitya Akademi was the "conscience keeper of the writing community", he said the literary body should actively condemn the killing of Kalburgi.

Meanwhile, P K Parakkadavu said he is quiting his membership of akademi.

Sarah Joseph informed that she will return the award amount of Rs 50,000, the statuette and the citation. Saying that the violent atmosphere prevailing in the country was terrifying, the writer said that she is rejecting the award as a protest against the central government policy to destroy the diversity of India by killing writers and denying the citizens even the right to eat their favourite food.

Sarah Joseph informed that she will return the award amount of Rs 50,000, the statuette and the citation. Saying that the violent atmosphere prevailing in the country was terrifying, the writer said that she is rejecting the award as a protest against the central government policy to destroy the diversity of India by killing writers and denying the citizens even the right to eat their favourite food.

'The country should fearfully take into account that the Prime Minister didn't utter a word for nine days on the Dadri incident. Cultural activists and writers should protest against this. I hope that writers all over the country would join together to protest against he communal policies of the central government,' she said.

Sarah Joseph, who spearheaded feminist writing in Malayalam, also felt what Jnanpith laureate U R Ananthamurthy had said years ago about the life of writers under the Modi government was "absolutely true". "The visionary writer had actually predicted about the suppressed life which writers would have to live under Modi's rule. His words have become a reality now," she said.

It was in 2003 that Sarah Joseph received the Kendra Sahitya Akademi award. Earlier, she had returned the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award to protest against the Muthanga incident.

Eminent Indian- English writer Nayantara Sahgal and poet Ashok Vajpayi had returned the Akademi awards. Writer and Padmashree award winner Shashi Deshpande too had resigned her membership of the Akademi's general council in protest against he silence of the Akademi on the killing of writer M M Kalburgi. Urdu novelist Rahman Abbas will return the Maharashtra State Urdu Sahitya Academy Award as a mark of protest against the Dadri lynching incident.

Literary world reacts

M T Vasudevan Nair: There is no sense in returning the award. I will register my protest in all possible ways.

U A Khader: The rejection of a recognition is akin to letting down himself/herself. I don’t think there is any point in returning the honour to appease any particular section. Hence I am not returning my award.

P Valsala: These are dramas staged when elections are round the corner. Some were selected for the honour while a few others had brought it. Those who brought the awards are now returning it.

Subhash Chandran: Seriously thinking of returning the award.

Sugathakumari: I won’t return the award as part of protest since it is illogical. However, I will continue to register protest in all possible ways.

Anand: The protest from the literary world is a welcome move. (He has handed over a letter to akademi asking the authorities to thwart all attempts to propagate communal policies).

The letter written by Anand to the Kendra Sahitya Akademi registering his protest:

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