As I write this, I am not fine actually. I don’t know if you are aware of the situation in Assam ever since the Citizenship Amendment Act was passed in the Indian Parliament. Nothing seems to be like a normal vacation back home this time.

Right from the internet services shutdown to the peaceful gatherings; we have braved everything with courage and faith in the Indian Judiciary that justice will be delivered.

We have problems right from getting in touch and connecting with our family and friends as even a normal call wouldn’t just happen.

Sadness is a small word to capture the struggles we are going through every single day for our basic communication, essential necessities and the protection of our very own identity.

Although there is no curfew now and there have been comparatively peaceful protests, yet there is a wind of melancholy around as students in hostels of Universities have been under lockdown. Education in its truest sense is about the liberation of the mind and intellect but when our very institutions capture the intellect, where does one knock the door in search of reason and light?

As things try to return back to normal, waves of horror from the recent past are still fresh as the wounds bleed and heal simultaneously.

Everyone here had to struggle to get food and basic necessities during the curfew and the outstation students have not been able to go home because of safety issues. The Armed forces could be seen on the roads, visibly creating a vibe of horror in the minds of people once again. Our wounds had just started to heal when they got cut again in a matter of decades. The trauma is difficult to go through once again.

People are afraid to stay outside their homes until late as they fear that anything can happen at any time. Everything seems so unpredictable, it’s so heart-breaking.

Those days of internet shutdown didn’t feel like the democratic India that we had always been studying about, or been living in for so long. It was terrifying to the extent of disbelief that we had to go through the terrors normally experienced in anarchy. We felt like prisoners at the mercy of the government, hands tied and mouth forcefully shut; with no voice or medium to let our voice be heard.

My friends from the Cotton University in Guwahati were the first ones to start the series of protests initially against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in Guwahati. They have seen it all. Right from the gunfires to curfew to the lack of food and other necessities in hostels.

My friend Panna Priyam Das sums it up. “I had read about wars, riots and civil disobedience, but all of these were a distant past and a very unlikely future until this brutal present hit me and the people of my state right in the face. I guess from romanticizing war scenarios to actually trying to fall asleep to the constant sound of sirens and gunfire and nationalistic slogans, we all got the lesson for our lackadaisical attitudes towards Politics. Fascism blossomed in our ignorance, so much so, that we have become captives in our old land and have to compromise our own integrity.”

All the artists of Assam are coming together on a common platform and starting their own kind of peaceful protests by singing patriotic songs on stages in huge fields and expressing their concern about their cultural identity being endangered and being lost, amongst them is the famous Assamese singer Zubeen Garg.

Solidarity amongst all the linguistic and religious groups can be seen despite their cultural differences as almost people from all fields came out on the roads and took out rallies in large numbers.

There is no stopping to this revolution here in the North East, but what is sad is the fact mainland media has continuously side-lined the North-East and the issues that concern us.

As I write this, I do not want my identity to remain anonymous. Rather, I want to assert my identity in all its might and glory. We are proud Assamese, proud Indians. I have faith in my nation. I have faith in my culture and my rights.

This is the time when I need to assert my identity and my culture more than ever as this is a time of crisis for my identity and culture.

Understand and talk about our cause, our problem and our plight. As Indians, it is the childhood phrase of ‘Unity in Diversity’, crossed across our hearts that defines us at this very moment.

Stand for Us. Stand for India.


 Featured Image Credits- Hindustan Times

Pallabi Dutta

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Note- This is a guest feature, authored by a student from Delhi University .

There have been some misconceptions in the past few days regarding the nature of the recent protests in Assam and other North-Eastern states. And therefore, some have been shying away from talking about it. Others are misinformed thinking the Assamese people are just protesting about religion, ignoring the whole debate about ‘illegal migration’. Here’s a deeper look.


While Assam faces an internet shutdown, other Indians are learning more and more about the Citizenship Amendment Act. The Internet itself is offering differing points of view. While some are understanding how the protests in North-East are dissatisfied voices against fall promises, the Twitter handles of prominent Right-wing leaders try assuring us that everything is all right. Some have even gone to the extent of calling this a massive conspiracy; director Vivek Agnihotri (a very ‘right’ individuals with often wrong assumptions) says that Pakistan is supplying arms to these protesters in Assam and goes on to call the movement against Citizenship Amendment Act, ‘Pakistan’s revenge for Kashmir’!

But those who can figure out the wrongs, are out on the streets even in Delhi, looking beyond their privilege and uniting for solidarity with the North-East, a region which mainland India has ignored more than often. Yesterday, Jamia Milia Islamia’s peaceful march by students and staff to the Parliament wasn’t allowed to step beyond the college gates too as the police engaged in lathi charges, and used tear gas to disperse the crowds. Another march took place to Jantar Mantar today.

Contrary to the anger amongst Delhi’s youth, the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) led Delhi University Students’ Union, posted a message on their social media handles on 11th December, which didn’t surprise many. ‘ABVP wholeheartedly welcomes passage of the #CitizenshipAmendmentBill2019 in the Upper House of the Parliament of India. The persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh will now be able to get citizenship of India and lead a life of dignity.’

Clearly, the Citizenship Amendment Bill which now became an Act has a religious background to it, for the Centre which backed it. If you look at it from a simplistic perspective, you would think that the only controversial aspect of the bill as many of you know, is just the fact that Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh would be denied easy citizenship in India as these countries already have an Islamic majority. The central government in the nation and DUSU out here in Delhi University want you to see the Act only in terms of religion. And obviously, in terms of religion, the Act is biased as it seems to allow persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists from such countries (as if Muslims cannot be persecuted at all in these countries). So, that’s how the initial buzz around Citizenship Amendment developed in the cities. #MuslimLivesMatter is trending amongst many Instagram posts and for the right reason.

Screenshot (14)Official post by ABVP

But now, with the rise in violence and chaos, and the deployment of paramilitary in the North-East, we must be informed that it’s not the communal angle for which the locals are fighting authority. They are angered by a promise that got broken, proving again that the mainland cares little for them.

To quote an Assamese friend (who wishes to remain unnamed for now), ‘Assamese people voted for BJP hoping that the party will remove illegal migrants. But now this selective bias of keeping some migrants, and removing the rest, means that our demands mean nothing for them.’ To put it in a nutshell, the inhabitants of Assam and other states of the North-East don’t wish to have anyone don’t want to provide refuge anymore to illegal migrants.

Whether a person follows Hinduism or Islam, speaks Bengali or Assamese, that is not the first priority for the protesters. All that bothered these protesters was if a person is in an illegal immigrant and all. Early on this year, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam was riddled with its own problems (many ‘true’ inhabitants’ names were removed while many ‘illegal foreigners’ made it to the list), but it did offer the locals some hope. Now, with the BJP-led Centre’s plan of selectively choosing who will stay in Assam, and who will not, has turned the NRC into a joke.

Again, those who are looking at this issue from their simplistic bubble might interpret the current rage in Assam as ‘xenophobic’. But we should take a minute to understand the situation over there. An already overlooked region, the North-East has limited land and limited resources, and cultural identities (note we’re talking about cultural identity, not religious identity) of the people here are endangered. They just can’t afford to hold any illegal immigrants; such demands and issues have been raised by the region for so long. And what did the North-Easterners get in return for these demands: a joke.

A joke that became a bill and now has turned into an Act.

Hence, if you are reading up about the Act and the rage around it, please don’t just look at it from a simplistic understanding. It’s not possible to think about what the locals must be feeling there, but try to broaden your thought. After all, even the bespectacled debating lapdog of the Centre has gone against the Centre this time!

Know that the Act is definitely communal, but also heavily exploitative of the demands of a cultural and numerical minority. Today, one section of this country saw its electoral rights being played with to suit the Centre’s own agendas, tomorrow it might be your rights, your identity, that might become a joke…


Featured Image Credits- Biju Boro


Shaurya Singh Thapa

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The National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has been released, bringing about landmark changes in the citizenship picture in the state. Some Assamese students at the University of Delhi (DU) tell their tales.

About four years after the exercise first began, the NRC list was finally completed and released on 31 August. Monitored by the Supreme Court, the NRC was a massive headcount exercise that sought to differentiate legitimate Indian citizens from “illegal” or “undocumented” immigrants who migrated from other countries – especially Bangladesh – into the state of Assam.

Out of the nearly 3.3 crore people who had applied for inclusion in the NRC, around 19 lakhs have been excluded from the final list. Contrary to speculation, the people who have been excluded would not be considered foreigners or deported; they have a 120-day window to appeal to the quasi-judicial Foreigners Tribunal to have their claims considered. If unsatisfied with the decision of these tribunals, those excluded also have the option of appealing to the higher courts.

A student of DU, who hails from Assam, said, on conditions of anonymity, that the whole NRC exercise had been undertaken to reap “political benefits”. He highlighted how the NRC was received in Assam: “We saw it in a mixed-light; it was good in the sense that the demography of Assam had changed because of illegal immigration, but we also had doubts…When the Assam Accord was signed in 1985, the deadline [for determining Indian citizenship] was set at 1971. So, there was a 14-year gap between the deadline and the signing of the Accord. If the NRC was implemented during that time, then maybe things would have been different; now, nearly 35 years have passed since 198/. If an illegal immigrant did actually come [to India] in 1972, after the cut-off date of 1971, then they would have had children and grandchildren by now. So, there would be two generations of people who would have been born in India, but now would get disenfranchised as Indian citizens, so it would create a humanitarian problem.”

The student also said that the Bangladeshi Government would never accept the illegal immigrants back to their country as they had always been “unaccepting of the fact that illegal immigration has taken place from their land.” The whole exercising had the potential of deepening the divides in the state, he said.

Even though our source claimed that he and his family had all the requisite documents for proving their citizenship as they were all born and brought up in Assam – while their forefathers had come to the state around the time of partition – he said that they still had to face troubles. “Our citizenship status was declared as descendants of foreigners when there is nothing of that sort because we have all the requisite documents from 1954-55. “My grandfathers migrated long back, did their job here, resided here, they had their names on the voter list,” he told us. A serious hindrance was lack of access to information: “Nobody was able to answer our questions as to why our status was like that. Just because we didn’t have access to high ranking officials. So, you don’t have any access to information, no checks and balance mechanism about why your status was like that,” we were told.

Even government officials involved in the exercise admit to the practical hardships. Another Assamese student, a family member of whom is an official involved in the process, recalled a conversation when the latter told her about the practical difficulties being faced by the people: poor and illiterate people suffered the most, while the recent floods had also made matters worse.

The first student continues his story: “Even though the idea of NRC is good, throwing people out is not a pragmatic option. Just telling someone that even though you and your father were born and brought up in India, you are not an Indian citizen because your grandfather or great-grandfather was an illegal immigrant is not something which, in a democratic country like India, we are accustomed to or would want to do.” Neither was throwing people out a pragmatic option, nor was keeping them in “concentration camps” right for a democratic country to do, he said. “It would not be any different from China keeping Uighur Muslims in camps.”

So what could be done? “Maybe designate them as D-voters [Doubtful Voters] and not give them some residential, property or voting rights that normal Indian citizens get,” our source said. But, as would seem evident, he was quick to point out problems with this too. “This cannot help change the demography of Assam because if people can’t be thrown out then whoever resides today at this point of time will always be there. So it doesn’t address the main concern of the Assamese people about their demography being changed. The ultimate purpose of this exercise goes in vain, according to me.”

The NRC was not the only recent citizenship-related controversy that rocked the north-eastern states. The Citizenship Amendment Bill of 2016, or CAB, was a piece of legislation which also created a widespread row in the North-Eastern states – and it was not limited to just Assam. The Bill aimed to provide citizenship to people belonging to minority faiths in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan – Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Paris, Buddhists, and Jains – who were forced to flee their home countries owing to religious persecution. It also reduced the time period of continuous stay in India needed to become an Indian citizen by the process of naturalisation from a period of 11 to six years. The Bill saw massive protests in the north-eastern states. Some of the ruling BJP’s own allies from that part of the country broke away from their political alliances. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha but lapsed in the Rajya Sabha.

Our source tells us that Assam was divided in their support for the CAB. The Brahmaputra Valley, with a predominantly Assamese population, opposed the Bill, while people in the Barak Valley – largely Bengalis – supported it. Manas Pratim Sharma, a student of Hindu College, also pointed out this dichotomy in an article he wrote for the North-East magazine of the college. The first student continues by saying that he has had to explain to a lot of people his reasons for supporting the CAB. “The CAB does not say that new people would be brought in from Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc. into India. It talks about whoever has come on or before 31st December 2014; it talks about those who are already here and they will be provided Indian citizenship by process of naturalisation over a period of six years. I don’t think the people residing in north-east or any part of India can be kicked out or be held in concentration camps. Then the CAB makes sense as it addresses people from religious minorities in neighbouring countries who have fled because of political and religious persecution,” he said.

However, taking cognisance of the huge protests that erupted over the CAB, the student also said, “If there is a huge uproar in the NE, then I’d actually be okay – I’d want it, in fact – if people who have migrated on or before 2014 and have not yet settled down in the north-eastern states be shifted to some other parts of the country and be rehabilitated there. This would not be the first time this would happen; it has happened in 1947, 1971, 1984 and other times also. I think there is scope for the government [to do this] so that the north-eastern states don’t have to bear the brunt of migration that the Indian state faces and that it’s evenly distributed, because that is also a primary concern of the north-eastern people…One part of the country should not disproportionately take the burden [of immigration]. If that condition is met with, I’m fine with the CAB in light of the NRC.”

A noted disappointment over the disproportionate share of migrant intake as experienced by the north-eastern states was also seen in Mr Sharma’s article, where he says the following in light of the CAB: “There is a perception that the passage of the CAB will open the floodgates for a fresh wave of influx of Bangladeshi Hindus to India, and Northeast will have to bear the brunt of the next wave of influx again.”

The students we spoke to were secure. Their names were there in the final list, even though some had not appeared in the earlier drafts, despite the names of their families being mentioned. As things stand, 19 lakh people have been excluded. As many media reports showed, there were numerous discrepancies in the earlier drafts: not everyone from the same family was included; relatives of government officials and servicemen were excluded and so on. It is likely that most of the excluded people would appeal to the Foreigners’ Tribunals. Illegal immigration is a real problem for any country; even more so in states of the north-east with a sensitive indigenous cultural demography. It can be hoped that the State would carry out the subsequent phases of the exercise with precision while keeping humanitarian concerns in mind.


Feature Image credits – India Today

Prateek Pankaj
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Come monsoons, and the entirety of coastal India and Ganga basin fall victim to the heavy rainfalls. As one side of India faces acute water shortage, another side is cursed with deadly floods. 

Assam Floods

Traditionally, Assam has been prone to heavy floods due to both natural and artificial reasons. The Brahmaputra river is among the world’s top five rivers in terms of discharge, as well as the sediment it brings. Whereas, population, habitation, and deforestation through the years has led to higher sedimentation. Combined with the heavy rainfalls, floods are an annual occurrence.

Over 12 lakh animals have been affected by the floods. Kaziranga National Park has reported around 129 animal deaths, including 10 rhinoceroses- the world’s only remaining one-horned rhinoceroses. In order to escape the flooded Kaziranga, animals have been trying to cross the highway, and reach the nearest Karbi hills. Deers, tigers, and rhinoceroses have been scavenging for food and shelter in human areas. However, this is simply the tip of the iceberg; over 95% of the National Park is under water. 

As of 26th July, 27.15 lakh people have been drastically affected, the death toll stands at 80. Even though the worst of the rains are now over, residents are grappling for clean drinking water, food and basic amenities. 

Assam needs the help of the rest of India to rebuild itself.

Here is how you can help: 

  • Contribute to Assam Chief Minister’s Relief Fund on Paytm.
  • Contribute resources such as food items, utensils, clothes, toiletries and essentials at Goonj.
  • Contribute funds to Milaap, which would thus transfer the funds to Assam Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. 

Bihar Floods 

Bihar’s death toll has escalated to an appalling 127 and over 88 lakh people have been affected. More than 12 districts have been severely affected leading to a demand of 10,000 crores INR, and declaring it as a national disaster. 

As the water levels are gradually receding, people are going back to what was once their home. It is pretty sad to note that Bihar has been facing huge death tolls for the past few years, yet, both the State and Central government seem to have been ineffective at finding preventive measures. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told the Assembly on 16th July, 2019, that the state is “fully prepared” to deal with the flash floods. Despite the promises, the common folk continues to face atrocities. 

Not to forget the ghastly 1987 floods which claimed 1399 human lives and 5300 animals. Mainstream media has been shying away from covering the floods, thus leading to minimum to zero attention on their real conditions. 

Even though the situation has improved, and is accompanied by light showers, Bihar needs the community’s help and support to regain their normal life. Here is how you can help:

  • Contribute to Goonj. Basic amenities required, such as clothing, food, toiletries and miscellaneous.
  • Contribute to crowd-funding or other NGOs collaborating with the Bihar government. 
  • Contribute funds to Bihar Chief Minister’s Relief Fund on Paytm.


India in today’s date is facing nature’s proverbial wrath. It’s time that the government took precautionary measures in flood-prone areas to not only save lives, but to preserve valuable yet diminishing natural resources. 

Feature Image Credits: NDTV

Anandi Sen 

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At the outset, here are a few facts about the current Assam flood situation:

• Assam is suffering under heavy floods which have affected at least 22 districts in the state and almost 3,300 villages.
• The Kaziranga National Park, home to more than half the world’s population of one-horned rhino is under 80% of water. Poaching activities now have more than the required advantage.
• These have been the worst floods of Assam since the year of 2004.

In India, floods have also struck states like Gurgaon, Delhi, Bengaluru, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and it has been devastating everywhere. But none of them have been as devastating as the floods in Assam. A World Heritage Site is under water and a great number of protected animals are dying with each passing hour. Villages have disappeared and people are fighting to survive. Even agriculture, which is an occupation of the majority of the people in Assam is under a threat as the silt from the Brahmaputra is washing over the fields. An entire region is barely surviving but the national media deemed it worth of a nominal mention.

Only after gaining widespread attention on social media has the situation of Assam started being covered by every major media house. It’s been barely a week since the ground reality has come to light while floods had begun from late April onwards. Thus, it becomes apparent how much the state has been ignored.

Why is it so? Why is it that even after so many assurances and promises, people from Assam have to scream and rebel to be heard? It’s only after all the social media portals began to be flooded with angry comments did the national headlines start trickling in. The devastating floods in Assam have brought the rural and urban life to a standstill. The psychological agony of displacement of an infrastructural loss makes the situation even grimmer. The ‘responsible’ news media have done a great job of reflecting the woes of the people,’’ says Barnika Bhuyan, a student of Ramjas college. Assam floods are therefore, thought of an annual phenomena that does not require ‘repetitive’ coverage by the national media.

If you search ‘Assam flood’ on Google, all results from 2012 till 2016 may appear. Yes, it does occur annually but it also shows how responsible the governments have been to make the flooded state safe for everyone. Another problem is that the national news channels have no offices in that particular region and the national newspapers have a very weak presence in the state. The six or so regional news houses are only present when it comes to reporting grave issues at the ground level. This is another reason why journalism has such a weak scope in the region. The Assam floods have thus, again proven how our media turns a blind eye to the problems of the North-Eastern side of our country.

Inputs from: TimesofIndia.indiatimes.com, NDTV.com
Image credits: huffingtonpost.in

Arindam Goswami
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Image source: The Times of India

Being Indian never meant easy answers. Not for the ancient people who lived in their little kingdoms and certainly not for us; the twenty-first century web-savvy young Indian who thinks the world could not have been better. A few weeks ago as the violence broke out in my home district and its adjoining areas I received calls from my panicking friends and even seniors. Then we started talking about it. It seemed to me there and then that no one had ever come up with the definition of an Indian for a very good reason: there isn’t one.

The identity of the Indian here is not to be confused with any historical truths or claims. The idea here is to explore the fragile bond that we share in this nation where the diversity often translates into pure ignorance and indifference that borders upon insensitivity. I remember a minister in Punjab coming up with the ingenious idea of solving the problem of too many stray dogs by sending them to the Northeast while in the Northeast, the people of ‘mainland’ India often feel ‘different’. My friend’s father who often travels there tells me that people there call her dad ‘Indian’. How strange the ideas must be on both sides of the spectrum. To add to this is the insecurity regarding some illegal immigrants from faraway Bangladesh coming to take away economic opportunities. Is it any wonder that violence is still considered one of the best examples of defence mechanism? Certainly not.

Even though many have characterized the violence in Assam as communal, it couldn’t have been farther from the truth. The fact is, this violence broke out as a turf war to be precise. The Bodo community felt that Bangladeshi migrants were taking their lands and this is where the insecurity built up to an unfortunate climax of inhuman violence. To be very honest here, those who were showing this to be the ‘second Godhra’ or something similar in the national media, forgot that a considerable number of the Bodos are actually Christian. So, where does the question of communal violence come from? And the amusing scenario that unfolded was more or less tragic. The people, notably public figures in Lower Assam, promptly ‘supported’ the violence as a ‘defence mechanism’. Perhaps this is where the question of humanity comes up in this case. Does the fact that they are allegedly ‘illegal’ take away their basic human right to stay alive? The haunting pictures of displaced figures from both sides in the aftermath loom like long shadows on the famed pillars of the fragile Indian democracy.

There are no direct answers to what the government should do or should not do. As an Indian, the evidence that rumors of communal violence can result in a mass exodus makes me question the basis on which the identity of ‘being’ an Indian start. It does not matter from where the rumor started and banning SMSs can hardly answer that major question for us. For north easterns who live away from home, this becomes a conflict of relating to the larger issue, I think. On one hand we are always classed as the ‘other’ type of Indians. On the other hand when violence like this breaks out, we become figures who either receive pity or looked upon as the persecuted. The issues that came out with this violent outbreak in lower Assam can be categorized as:

  1. A question of basic identities. Who is what ‘type’ of Indian? Isn’t it surprising that when violence breaks out in Assam, the entire Northeastern community goes through a phase of uncertainty?
  2. A question of existence. If a simple rumor mill has resulted in an exodus of people from one part of the country to another, how much faith should one have regarding the nation’s integrity?

We have long roads to cover before we answer these questions. For now, as the violence stops we too stop questioning. But till what time shall that happen?


Priyam Goswami

The role of a journalist is to gather and report news. At certain times, such as the case with the recent Guwahati molestation, a reporter can be torn between his job as a broadcaster of news and his calling as a human being.

Without passing judgment on why the reporter chose to film the incident, let us think of the various situations that were presented to this journalist.

Watching a scene as horrifying as that unfold and taking no step to control the situation is akin to being a perpetrator of the crime itself. Here was a person, who stood there and watched the incident while condemning it (hopefully!) in his mind. This was a supposedly educated mob (logically linking from the fact that all were exiting from an expensive bar) who perpetrated the crime when a sole voice of reason could have stopped them.

Moving on from those who committed the crime, let us now focus on the victim. She is perhaps still caught in a state of trauma, having lost complete faith in humanity. Perhaps she wouldn’t have felt so, if someone or anyone had tried to help her. Perhaps that could once again establish her faith in life.

On the other hand, our society encourages and needs journalists who are ‘inhumane’, who choose to stand back and watch and in some cases – and record. In a nation like ours, we document more than 1 rape a day in the capital. It is so common now that it does not even warrant a mention in the front page of most leading dailies. Yet, India needs the shock-treatment in the form of a video to start a movement. There are rapes and molestations that cry themselves hoarse in search of justice and yet this girl in Guwahati, gets all the limelight. The reason being, her molestation was taped. What would have happened if the tape didn’t exist? Oh well, she would end up being just another victim of our inefficient justice system. Most of the mob would never be identified or dragged to court. So has the journalist done the girl a service here? Has he managed to ensure that the girl gets justice? Will this give her closure? A sense of peace?

Likewise, it’s believed that a journalist’s job is to be impartial and fair, which subsequently means that the journalist is to not engage in the brawl himself! And such behaviour has been rewarded too– Yazushi Nagaha won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for the photograph of an assassination, where this journalist had to move 5 feet to adjust his lens-focus, valuable time in which he easily could have intercepted the murderer.


Arnav Das
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