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.
Every year since its inception in 1954, the Sahitya Akademi Award prizes to the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the major Indian languages recognised by the Akademy. The award amount, which was Rs.5,000 since inception, had been enhanced to Rs.10,000 from 1983, Rs.25,000 from 1988, Rs.40,000 from 2001, Rs.50,000 from 2003 and is now Rs.1,00,000 from 2009. The first Awards were given in 1955.
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