One of the important activities of the Akademi has been to give recognition and honours to artists as it would help setting standards in these arts and restore the art and artists to their rightful place in independent India.
The institution of Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards is now nearly 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 Awards.
The Sangeet Natak Akademi honours – Akademi Ratna and Akademi Puraskar not only symbolize the highest standard of excellence and achievements on a national basis in the field of the performing arts but also recognize the sustained individual work of the highest professional order and contribution to the practice and appreciation of these arts through teaching and scholarship.