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Nachhatar gets Sahitya Akademi award for Punjabi novel, Megh for Hindi criticism

Sahitya Akademi on Thursday announced its annual awards recognising the literary works of 24 writers writing in 24 Indian languages.

punjab Updated: Dec 21, 2017 23:52 IST
Nirupama Dutt
Nirupama Dutt
Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Nachhattar,Sahitya Akademi,Sahitya Akademi 2017
Punjabi novelist Nachhatar (HT Photo)

Barnala-born Punjabi novelist Nachhatar and Panchkula-based Hindi critic Ramesh Kuntal Megh have bagged the prestigious Sahitya Akademi awards this time.

Nachhatar, who is now based in Delhi, has been chosen

for his novel ‘Slowdown’ and Megh gets the honor for his work of literary criticism ‘Vishw Mithak Sarit Sagar’

‘Slowdown’, which is set in Delhi, portrays the impact of recession on the lives of aspiring youths who suddenly find themselves without jobs.

Nachhatar, 67, has six novels and six collections of stories to his credit. His latest novel is ‘Cancer Train’, which dwells on the plight of those afflicted by the dreaded disease in the cotton belt of Malwa region.

Born in a Dalit family of Barnala, Nachhatar worked as a factory worker after Class 10 and supported his higher studies by working as clerk in Punjab Agricultural University at Ludhiana.

A truly self-made man, he went on to become a bank manager, making his home in Delhi.

Talking to HT over phone, Nachhatar said, “It feels good that ‘Slowdown’ has been chosen for this honour, though my latest novel ‘Cancer Train’ is set in Punjab.”

His mentor and friend Rawail Singh, who is senior Punjabi academician, complimented Nachhatar on making it after a lot of hard work, while underlining his dedication to writing.

Dalit writer Des Raj Kali said, “The social concerns reflected in Nachhatar’s works have always been admirable and his stories rooted in the world of Punjab Dalits have been sensitive.”


Hindi writers of the region have lauded the award to some veteran critic Megh for his magnum opus on universal myths and aesthetics called ‘Vishwa Mithak Sarit Sagar’.

A protege of legendary Hindi writer Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, who founded the department of Hindi in the Panjab University in 1960, Megh did his research in aesthetics and completed his doctorate from Benaras Hindu Universiy. Dwivedi invited him to join the department at Chandigarh from where Megh moved to the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

Although born and educated in Uttar Pradesh, he later became associated with the nothern region.

Expressing happiness at Megh’s recognition which has come rather late, Madhav Kaushik, secretary of the Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi, said: “An award for criticism is rare and probably after Namwar Singh, he is the only critic to have received the Sahitya Akademi award.

He added, “It is also rare that an award in Hindi has come to this region, so we are overjoyed.”

Hindi fiction writer Madhur Kapila said, “Although the award has come late, I am glad that recognition has been given to his work.”

Megh has to his credit several books and research papers. He is active still in the tricity’s literary circles and more so when it comes to encouraging young talent.

Sahitya Akademi, India’s national academy of letters, announced its annual awards on Thursday recognising the literary works of 24 writers writing in 24 Indian languages.

“Seven books of novels, five of poetry, five of short stories, five of literary criticism and one of play and essays have won the Sahitya Akademi Awards-2017,” K Sreenivasarao, secretary, Sahitya Akademi, said.

The awards will be conferred upon the winners during a ceremony on February 12 next year.


Mamang Dai’s name has been selected for his English novel ‘The Black Hill’, and Niranjan Mishra is in the list of winners for his Sanskrit novel ‘Gangaputravadanam’ and KP Ramanunni has won for ‘Daivathinte Pusthakam’ in Malayalam.

The poets who feature in the list of winners are Udaya Narayana Singh (Maithili), Shrikant Deshmukh (Marathi), Bhujanga Tudu (Santali), Inqulab (Tamil) and Devipriya (Telugu).

Five writers awarded for their short stories are Shiv Mehta (Dogri), Autar Krishen Rahbar (Kashmiri), Gajanan Jog (Konkani), Gayatri Saraf (Odia) and Baig Ehsas (Urdu).

Besides Ramesh Kuntal Megh in literary criticism category, others awardees are TP Ashoka (Kannada), Urmi Ghanshyam Desai (Gujarati), Bina Hangkhim (Nepali) and Neeraj Daiya (Rajasthani).

Also chosen for the award are Jagdish Lachhani (Sindhi) for his essays and Rajen Toijamba (Manipuri) for his play.

The awards have been given for books published between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2015.

With inputs from agencies.

First Published: Dec 21, 2017 20:40 IST