Weeks after returning their awards in protest against ‘growing intolerance’ in the country, some eminent writers who had returned their Sahitya Akademi awards have relented and agreed to take them back.
While noted writer Nayantara Sahgal, who was one of the first to join the ‘award waapsi’ campaign, took her award back recently in view of the contention that there is no provision to return the award, Rajasthani writer Nand Bhardwaj said he was “satisfied” with the response of the Akademi following an outrage among the awardees over its silence and inaction over the killing of rationalists.
The decision to take back the awards by Sahgal and Bhardwaj could set an example for others, but the fraternity seemed divided over the issue.
“I found the conduct and action of the Akademi satisfactory and appreciate the efforts they have taken and hence I have decided to take back the award,” said Bhardwaj, who had earlier sent back a cheque of `50,000 to the Akademi in protest against its inaction over intolerance.
Nayantara Sahgal, on the other hand, told HT, “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.” Sahgal had sent a cheque for `1 lakh, which has been returned, according to the Akademi.
However, poet Ashok Vajpeyi is sticking to his guns: “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.”
Sahitya Akademi president Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari said they have sent out a copy of their resolution to all 40 people who had returned their awards stating that there is no provision in its constitution for the same. He hoped more writers would now respond to the Akademi’s call, especially after its October 23 resolution condemning incidents of violence against writers.