Noted Malayalam writer quits Sahitya Akademi alleging political interference

I strongly protest against this year’s Akademi Festival having been inaugurated by a cabinet minister, says C Radhakrishnan

Malayalam writer C Radhakrishnan (photo: @naalikeram/X)
Malayalam writer C Radhakrishnan (photo: @naalikeram/X)

NH Digital

A controversy erupted after noted Malayalam writer C Radhakrishnan resigned as an eminent member of the Sahitya Akademi citing political interference. Radhakrishnan strongly protested against this year’s Akademi Festival being inaugurated by a Union minister, who, according to him, lacks any known credentials in literature.

In his resignation letter addressed to Sahitya Akademi member secretary K Sreenivasarao, Radhakrishnan said: “I strongly protest against this year’s Akademi Festival having been inaugurated by a cabinet minister of the Government of India, a person without any known credential whatsoever in literature.”

On 11 March, Union minister of state for culture Arjun Ram Meghwal inaugurated the 39th edition of ‘Sahityotsav: The Festival of Letters’.

He alleged that this was the first time such a thing had happened in the illustrious history of the Akademi, which has consistently upheld the autonomy of the institution against pressures to yield to political clout.

The 85-year-old author, known for his critically acclaimed novels such as Munpe Parakkunna Pakshikal and Spandamapinikale Nandi, said that all members of the Akademi had protested when a Union minister had participated in the organisation’s annual festival and subsequently, assurances were given that this would not recur. Set up by the government in 1954, Akademi functions as an autonomous organisation under Ministry of Culture, says its website.

Radhakrishnan added: “I would like to clarify that I am not against any particular political party. I protest against the politicisation of administration of culture eroding the independent stature of the Akademi.”

Quick to respond, the Sahitya Akademi said Radhakrishnan’s resignation letter was “misleading”. In a statement, the Akademi president Madhav Kaushik said Meghwal was himself a writer. “He is well-versed in Rajasthani and Hindi,” he said, listing some of the Minister’s published works.

“Besides, he actively participated in many programmes for the development of Rajasthani language and extended full cooperation in various capacities for recognition of Rajasthani as an Indian language in the VIIIth schedule of the Constitution,” read the statement.

The Akademi noted that “many a minister, irrespective of any political parties, have participated in the Akademi’s literary programmes in the past too, and which certainly in no way violates its autonomy”. Radhakrishnan was honoured by the Akademi with distinguished membership for his literary eminence in December 2022.

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