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Posted at: Dec 18, 2015, 12:56 AM; last updated: Dec 18, 2015, 12:27 AM (IST)

Akademi award for Jaswinder

Vishav Bharti

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17

The Sahitya Akademi today announced awards for the year 2015. For Punjabi language, the award will be given to Patiala-based literary critic Dr Jaswinder Singh for his maiden novel “Maat Lok”.

The novel was published in 2011 and is set in 1980s. It deals with moral and cultural questions cropped up due to contemporary socio-economic changes. Jaswinder Singh is better known for literary criticism in Punjabi literature and retired as professor of Punjabi literature from Punjabi University, Patiala.

The announcement of the award came at a time when Punjabi writers are at the forefront of resistance against “intolerance” and protesting the killing of writers and rationalists in the country.

When asked about the present scenario, Jaswinder said: “I think it is not the right time to discuss award ‘wapsi’, but I will definitely write about that soon.”

Surjit Singh, a literary critic and former colleague of Dr Jaswinder Singh, said the novel was unique. “Most Punjabi novels are either too politic or set in history. It is the first novel which deals with the problems of contemporary Punjab,” he said.

The award in the form of a casket containing an engraved copper plaque, a shawl and a cash prize of Rs1 lakh will be presented to him at a special function to be held on February 16 in Delhi during the Festival of Letters to be organised by the Akademi.

The Sahitya Akademi Yuva Purskar in Punjabi has been announced for Simran Dhaliwal for her short story book “Aas Aaje baki Hai”. The award comprises a copper plaque and a cash prize of Rs50,000.

In a meeting held today, the Sahitya Akademi has decided that it will acknowledge the concern of the writers who returned their awards recently in protest against intolerance and killing of rationalists and authors.

It was discussed that since there is no provision to take back the awards once given, the Akademi will send letters to the authors to express solidarity with them and appreciate their concern.

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