Kerala is one of the most literate states in India. Renowned Malayalam poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri was on Thursday presented with the respectable Jnanpith Award at his place by Kerala Cultural Affairs Minister AK Balan. Seated in an armchair at his home, 93-year-old Akkitham earned the prestigious literary award. He became the sixth Keralite to be conferred by the award. Akkitham's work includes Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam, Balidarshanam and Dharma Sooryan among over 45 works of poems, plays and short stories. He was conferred Padma Shri in 2017.
This is the second time that a native from Kumaranellur, a hamlet in Kerala's Palakkad district, has received one of the highest honors in literature. A laureate in Malayalam literature, MT Vasudevan Nair, had also won the Jnanpith Award. Malayalam writers including G Sankara Kururp, Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, SK Pottekkatt and ONV Kurup are others who have won the prize. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the award ceremony through a video conference.
Going live from his office in the state Secretariat, Vijayan paid tributes to the life and works of Akkitham, as he is popularly known. “It was through his original attempts that Akkitham presented the concerns of both individuals and the time to the society. He has reflected peculiar originality in his works,” Minister AK Balan stated. Poet and advisor (press) to the Chief Minister, Prabha Varma, and MLA VT Balram were also present at the function. The award function is usually held in New Delhi. It has been held at the awardee’s home this time reportedly considering his age and the COVID-19 situation.