The Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship is the highest honour conferred by Sangeet Natak Akademi without distinction of nationality, race, caste, religion, creed, or sex. The criteria restricts any person below the age of 50 to ordinarily be considered for the honour. The recommendations are received from the current fellows along with the members of the General Council of the Akademi.
The most prestigious and rare honour of Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (Akademi Ratna Sadasyata) was restricted to 30 eminent persons at any given time till 2008. However, consequent upon the amendment of the Rules and Regulations in the meeting of the General Council on 29 January 2010, ten (10) more seats of Akademi Fellows have been increased to be filled up in a phased manner over five years – two seats per year. The first Fellow of the Akademi was elected in 1954, and, till date the Akademi has honoured 153 eminent personalities as Akademi Fellows (Akademi Ratna). The Akademi Fellowship carries purse money of Rs. 3.00 lakhs, a Tamrapatra and an Angavastram.
The Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards is now more than seventy years old and the large body of practitioners, gurus and scholars in the performing arts honoured by the Akademi represents the nation’s highest achievement in music, dance and drama. The Awards in Hindustani and Carnatic music were instituted as early as in 1951, even before the Akademi was set up and these were known as Presidential Awards. With the formation of the Akademi the Awards came to be known as Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards and the investiture became the responsibility of the Akademi. The Presidential Awards for 1952 and 1953 were subsequently incorporated in the list of Sangeet Natak Akademi AwardsAs regards.
As regards the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards, the number of awards to be conferred annually is 41 at present and, till date, over 1298 artists have been honoured. The Akademi Awards carries purse money of Rs. 1.00 lakh, a Tamrapatra and an Angavastram.