One year of photojournalist Danish Siddiqui’s death

The chronicler of Covid times receives second Pulitzer – posthumously

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Danish Siddiqui
Danish Siddiqui was announced the winner of a second Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography on 9 May 2022, posthumously – for his heart-wrenching encapsulation of the plight of victims of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo Reuters

As we complete a year to Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Ahmad Danish Siddiqui’s demise, we take a walk down memory lane to the pictorial legacy he left behind. Siddiqui, an Indian photojournalist on assignment in Afghanistan was killed by the Taliban forces in the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border on 15 July 2021. Siddiqui was only 38 at the time of his death. 

He is still remembered with emotion for his compelling shots of the Covid-19 toll in India and the exodus of migrants from the cities back to the countryside at the sudden lockdown on 25 March 2020. He visually documented significant events in India and Asia and the Middle East such as the Nepal earthquake, the Sri Lankan Easter Sunday blasts, the Myanmar refugee crisis, the Iraq war, the Hong Kong protests, and the Delhi riots.

Danish Siddiqui
Danish Siddiqui poses for a picture at Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library during the Pulitzer Prize giving ceremony, in New York, US, 30 May, 2018. Photo: Reuters/
Mohammad Ponir Hossain

Best remembered for his documentation of human suffering and war, Siddiqui was brought up in Delhi where his father Mohammad Akhtar Siddiqui taught at the Faculty of Education in Jamia Millia Islamia for many years until retirement. An alumnus of Jamia Millia Islamia himself, he had been working for around 12 years with news agency Reuters, starting in 2010. Before joining Reuters he  worked briefly with the Hindustan Times and TV Today.  He enrolled for a PG course at AJK Mass Communication and Research Centre (MCRC) of Jamia Millia Islamia in 2005, after completing his graduation in economics from the university.

He received his first Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 2018 as a part of the Reuters photography team for the moments captured in the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar. Siddiqui’s Reuters’ profile read, “While I enjoy covering news stories – from business to politics to sports – what I enjoy most is capturing the human face of a breaking story…I shoot for the common man who wants to see and feel a story from a place where he can’t be present himself.” 

Largely self-taught, the riveting photographs focused on the stories of the people captured by his lens. His body of work gave depth to the old adage ‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’

Danish Siddiqui
A Kashmiri woman watches protests in Anchar neighbourhood after Friday prayers, during restrictions following scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the Indian government, in Srinagar 20 September 2019. Reuters/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo

Siddiqui was announced the winner of a second Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography on 9 May 2022, posthumously – for his heart-wrenching encapsulation of the plight of victims of the Covid-19 pandemic. Other photojournalists who were honored with the Pulitzer Prize for their images depicting the Covid-19 catastrophe in India were Siddiqui’s Reuters colleagues Amit Dave, Sana Irshad Mattoo, and Adnan Abidi.

The Pultizer Prize, established in 1917 and administered by Columbia University, recognizes extraordinary talent in newspapers, magazines, digital journalism, literature, and musical composition. The prestigious annual honor is awarded in 21 categories, with each of the 20 category winners receiving a US$ 15,000 cash prize (approximately Rs 11,98,117) and a certificate, while the awardee in the public service category receives a gold medal.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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