The Sahitya Akademi was formally inaugurated by the Government of India on 12 March 1954. The Government of India Resolution, which set forth the constitution of the Akademi, described it as a national organisation to work actively for the development of Indian letters and to set high literary standards, to foster and co-ordinate literary activities in all the Indian languages and to promote through them all the cultural unity of the country. Though set up by the Government, the Akademi functions as an autonomous organisation. It was registered as a society on 7 January 1956, under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
Sahitya Akademi, India`s National Academy of Letters, is the central institution for literary dialogue, publication- and promotion in the country and the only institution that undertakes literary activities in twenty-two Indian languages, including English. Over the 49 years of its dynamic existence, it has ceaselessly endeavored to promote good taste and healthy reading habits, to keep alive the intimate dialogue among the various linguistic and literary zones and groups through seminars, lectures, symposia, discussions, readings and perforfances, to increase the pace of mutual, translations through workshops and individual assignments and to develop a serious literary culture through the publication of journals, monographs, individual creative works of every genre, anthologies, encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, Who`s Who of Writers and histories of literature. It has so far brought out over four thousand two hundred books, the present pace of publication being one book every thirty hours. Every year the Akademi holds at least thirty seminars at regional, national and international levels along with the workshops and literary gatherings - about 200 in number per year, under various heads like Meet the Author, Samvad, Kavisandhi, Kathasandhi, Loka: The Many Voices, Men and Books, Through My Window, Mulakat, Asmita, Antaral, Avishkar and Literary Forum.
Akademi gives twenty-two awards annually to literary works in the languages it has recognised and an equal number of awards to literary translations from and into the languages of India, both after a year-long process of scrutiny, discussion and selection. It also gives special awards called Bhasha Samman to significant contribution to the languages not formally recognised by the Akademi as also for contribution to classical and medieval literature. It has also a system of electing eminent writers as Fellows and Honorary Fellows and has, also established fellowship in the name of Anand Coomaraswamy.
The Akademi has launched Centres for Translation in Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Delhi, and an Archive of Indian Literature in Delhi. Many more imaginative projects are on the anvil. Sahitya Akademi is aware of cultural and linguistic differences and does not believe in forced standardisation of culture through a bulldozing of levels and attitudes. At the same time, it is also conscious of the deep inner cultural, spiritual, historical and experiential links that unify India`s diverse manifestations of literature. This unity seeks an international species-dimension through the Akademi`s Cultural Exchange Programmes with other countries on the globe.
The Awards are given to prolific writers of following languages every year.