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Sangeet Natak Akademi Ratna for 4 top artistes
NEW DELHI, January 16: The General Council of Sangeet Natak Akademi, the national academy of music, dance and drama, has chosen four eminent personalities in the field of performing arts as Sangeet Natak Akademi Ratna (Akademi Fellows). The four are: Smt. Sitara Devi, Shri Khaled Choudhury, Shri R.C. Mehta and Shri Bhupen Hazarika.

The honour of Akademi Ratna (Akademi Fellow) is restricted to 30 living personalities at any given point of time.

The decision was taken at a meeting in New Delhi on January 10. The General Council of the Akademi also selected 34 practitioners of music, dance and theatre for the Akademi Puraskar (Akademi Awards) for the year 2008.

In the field of music, eight eminent artists - Ulhas Kashalkar and M.R. Gautam (Hindustani vocal music); Ramesh Mishra (Sarangi) and Krishna Ram Chaudhary (Shehnai) for Hindustani Instrumental Music; Puranam Purushottama Sastri (Carnatic vocal); B. Sasi Kumar (violin) and Manrgudi A. Easwaran (mridangam) for Carnatic instrumental music and Ningombam Ibobi Singh (Nata Sankirtana, Manipur) for other major traditions of music - have been selected.

In the field of dance, nine eminent practitioners - Saroja Vaidyanathan, (Bharatanatyam); Shashi Shankhla (Kathak); Kalamandalam Kuttan (Kathakali); Ramani Ranjan Jena (Odissi); Vasanta Lakshmi and Narasimhachari (joint award in Kuchipudi); Kalamandalam Leelamma (Mohiniattam); Yog Sunder Desai (creative and experimental dance) and Ramhari Das (music for dance, Odissi) - have been selected. R. Satyanarayana of Karnataka has been selected for his contribution to scholarship in performing arts.

The Akademi Ratna (Akademi Fellow) and Akademi Puraskar (Akademi Award) have been conferred since 1952, which not only symbolize the highest standard of excellence and achievements on a national basis, but also recognize sustained individual work and contribution to the practice and appreciation of the arts through performance, teaching and scholarship. The Akademi Ratna carries purse money of Rs.100,000 and Akademi Puraskar Rs. 50,000 besides tamrapatra and angavastram.