The Jnanpith award is given every year for the best creative writing by an Indian citizen in any of the languages included in Schedule VIII of the Indian Constitution. It is the most prestigious literary award of the country. The Award is sponsored by Bharatiya Jnanpith, a literary and cultural organisation set up in 1944, by the late Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain and his wife Rama Jain; its present president is Ashok Kumar Jain. The Jnanpith Award was instituted on May 22, 1961. The first award was given in 1965. The award carries a cash price of Rs
7 lakhs, a citation and a bronze replica of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of
knowledge, music, and arts.
Since its inception, 38
eminent writers have received the Jnanpith award in the following languages:
Assamese (2), Bengali (5), Gujarati (3), Hindi (7), Kannada (7), Kashmiri
(1), Konkani (1), Malayalam (5), Marathi (3), Oriya (3), Punjabi (2),
Sanskrit (1), Tamil (2), Telugu (2) and Urdu (4). On three occasions, the
Award was shared by two authors. The Award has so far been given seven
times each to Kannada and Hindi writers, five times each to Bengali and
Malayalam writers, four times to Urdu writers, three times each to Gujarati
and Marathi writers, two times each to Assamese, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu
writers and once to Assamese, Punjabi and Tamil writers and once each to
Kashmiri, Konkani and Sanskrit writers.
Eminent Malayalam litterateur
ONV Kurup and noted Urdu poet Akhlaq Khan Shahryar have been chosen for the
Jnanpith Award for the year 2007 and 2008 respectively for their contribution to
literature. The 2009 and 2010 Awards are yet to be announced.