Published: 19th July 2021
What The FAQ: What is Pulitzer Prize and who was the first Indian to win it?
Pulitzer-winning photographer Danish Siddiqui died in Afghanistan recently. Here, we decode what the award is all about and its history
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui’s tragic death in Afghanistan recently was an immeasurable loss for the country. He was among the first two Indians to win a Pulitzer Prize for feature photography. Along with another Reuters photographer Adnan Abidi, Siddiqui won the prize in 2018 for documenting the violence and the faced by Myanmar’s Rohingya community. Here's everything that you must know about this particular honour.
What is Pulitzer Prize and who is it named after?
The Pulitzer Prize was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of Joseph Pulitzer, a “passionate crusader against the dishonest government”. It is administered by Columbia University in the United States. The prize initially recognised meritorious work in journalism, but the Plan of Award has been revised frequently. Over the years, it has expanded to 21 categories and now it includes poetry, music, and photography as subjects. The Pulitzer board has also come to recognise exceptional work in online journalism too.
What do we know about Joseph Pulitzer?
Pulitzer was born in Hungary and moved to the United States later in life where he served in the Army during the American Civil War. After his short time with the Army, he did a lot of odd jobs to survive. And, along the way, he chanced upon an opportunity to work with a German-language newspaper. Thus began his journey in journalism. He was merely 25 when he decided to start his newspaper, St Louis Post-Dispatch. His paper became a popular read at the time, and he soon went on to acquire The New York World. The World was in a financial mess when Pulitzer acquired it, he changed the fortunes of the dying World by making it a commercial success.
Was Siddiqui the first Indian to win a Pulitzer?
No. The first-ever Indian to win a Pulitzer was Gobind Behari Lal, who was a part of the Indian freedom struggle, moved to the United States in 1912 as a research fellow at the University of California. He, along with four others, won the Pulitzer in the reporting category for their coverage in the field of science. His journalism career in the United States began with the San Francisco Daily News in 1922. He wrote on various topics and interviewed people like Gandhi and Einstein. Lal died of cancer in 1982, a few weeks after writing his last news article.