Noted Malayalam poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri has been conferred with the 55th Jnanpith award for his lifetime contribution to the literature.
The Jnanpith selection board has unanimously selected Akkitham for the award. The award includes a cash prize of Rs 11 lakh and a bronze replica of Goddess Saraswati. The 93-year-old poet has written over 43 works in Malayalam.
Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri was born on March 18, 1926, at Amettikkara, near Kumaranallur in Palakkad, Kerala, to Amettu Akkithathu Manayil Vasudevan Namboothiri and Checkur Manaykkal Parvathy Antharjanam. After studying Sanskrit, Astrology and Music, he joined college for higher education but did not complete his graduation. He started his career as an editor of Unni Namboothiri magazine. In 1956, he joined the Kozhikode station of the All India Radio (AIR) where he worked until 1975 after which he was transferred to the Thrissur station of the AIR. He was also associated with Anaadi, a literary movement for popularising studies of Vedas
Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri who is popularly known as Akkitham is the 6th Malayalam writer to bag the prestigious award. The first recipient of the Jnanpith was legendary Malayalam poet G Sankara Kurup. He received the award in 1965 for his collection of poems, Odakkuzhal.
He was honoured with Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of the Government of India in 2017. Literary critics consider ‘Irupathamnootandinte Ithihasam’, meaning ‘The legend of 20th century’ as Akkitham’s major work. Upanayanam, Idinju Polinja Lokam, Samavarthanam, Balidarsanam, Samanvayathinte aakaasham and Idinju Polinja Lokam are his other major works.
The poet also recieved many awards including Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award, Ezhuthachan Award (the highest literary award of the Government of Kerala), Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for Poetry, Odakkuzhal Award, Vallathol Award, Vayalar Award and Aasan Prize.
About Jnanpith Award
• Established in 1961, the Jnanpith Award is the highest literary award of India.
• The award is bestowed only on Indian writers writing in any of the 22 Indian languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India and English.
• It is presented annually by the Bharatiya Jnanpith Trust to an author for their "outstanding contribution towards literature".
• It is not conferred posthumously.
• Prior to 1982, the award was only conferred for a single work by a writer, however, after 1982 the award recognised writers’ lifetime contribution to Indian literature.
• The first recipient of the award was the Malayalam writer G. Sankara Kurup, who received it in 1965 for his collection of poems, Odakkuzhal.
• Bengali writer, Ashapoorna Devi was the first woman novelist to win the award in 1976 for her 1965 novel Pratham Pratisruti.