Gulzar, Rambhadracharya receive 58th Jnanpith Awards

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The 58th Jnanpith Awards were announced on Saturday. The Jnanpith Selection Committee chaired by Jnanpith awardee Pratibha Rai announced the names of noted lyricist and Urdu poet Gulzar and Sanskrit scholar Jagadguru Rambhadracharya as recipients for 2024.

Gulzar, known for his work in Hindi cinema is also one of the finest Urdu poets of this era. Prior to this, he had received the Sahitya Akademi Award for Urdu in 2002, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2013, the Padma Bhushan in 2004 and at least five National Film Awards for his work.

Rambhadracharya, the founder and head of Tulsi Peeth in Chitrakoot, is a renowned Hindu spiritual leader, teacher and author of over 100 books. The Jnanpith Selection Committee said in a statement, ‘It has been decided to give this award (for 2023) to eminent writers of two languages – Sanskrit litterateur Jagadguru Rambhadracharya and famous Urdu litterateur Shri Gulzar.’ Goan writer Damodar Maujo had been given the prestigious award in 2022.

History of Jnanpith Award

The Jnanpith Award, established in 1944, recognizes outstanding contributions to Indian literature and is presented annually. This year this award has been being given for the second time for excellence in Sanskrit and for the fifth time for Urdu. This prestigious award includes a cash prize of Rs 21 lakh, a statue of Vagdevi and a citation. The first Jnanpith award was given to GShanker Kurup for his works in Malyalam language in 1965.

Selection Criteria

Nominations for the award are received from various literary experts, teachers, critics, universities and several literary and language associations. Every three years an advisory committee is formed for each language. The language of the most recent recipient’s work is not eligible for consideration for another two years. Each committee includes three literary critics and scholars of their respective languages. All nominations are scrutinized by the committee and their recommendations are presented to the Jnanpith Award Selection Board.

The selection board consists of seven to eleven members of “high reputation and integrity”. Each member serves on the committee for a term of three years which can be extended for two more terms. The recommendations of all Language Advisory Committees are evaluated by the Board on the basis of full or partial translation into Hindi or English of selected works of the proposed authors. The recipient for a particular year is announced by the Selection Board, which has the final authority for selection.

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