The state government has finally raised the prize money for books published in Gujarati. The raise is the result of an initiative by the Minister for Sport,Youth Affairs and Cultural Activities,Fakirbhai Vaghela.
The first prize has been raised from Rs 5,000 to Rs 11,000 and that of the second prize from
Rs 3,000 to Rs 7,000. The third prize has been hiked from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000. The move,though belated,is worth welcoming given the current period of recession and the poor economic condition of writers in general.
It so happened that when department officials had been to the minister seeking appointment for the prize function,he asked about the amount to be given. When we told him the figures,he ordered an immediate hike, said Kirit Dudhat,acting registrar of the Gujarati Sahitya Academy.
Dudhat said the minister made it sure the Finance Department gave an express approval. The hike,as of now,is only for prize winning books in Gujarati. For other academies,the government is yet to consider the raise,which,it is expected,is just a matter of time.
Kachchhi Sahitya Academy president Kirti Kari has welcomed the move and supported the case for other academies. Kachchhi is the only language academy,which has a full-fledged body and can increase prize money on its own without government approval. Other academies cannot do so,as officials alone run them in the absence of elected bodies.
The prize money for books had been fixed nearly 12 years ago and it was never revised after that. The minister wondered how such a meagre amount could be offered to writers today. He said the government might consider raising the prize amount of Gaurav Puraskar to veteran writers from Rs 25,000 to bring it at least on a par with Yuva Gaurav Puraskar,which is Rs 50,000.