Strange experiences of 2 Indian Achievers

Pulitzer Prize winner for 2022,  Sanna Irshad Mattoo could not leave India to receive her award in the US.

Norman E Borlaug Field Prize for 2022 winner, Dr Govindraj Mahalingam reached Iowa, US but had to be content receiving the coveted prize virtually.

Dr Govindraj Mahalingam

Rather unusual isn’t it? Yes, this strange experiences of two young, Indian Achievers on the global level happened during the week of October 16-23.

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The Kashmiri photojournalist, Sanna Irshad Mattoo was reportedly stopped at the Delhi Airport on October 17.  She was denied from flying to the US by immigration authorities “despite having a valid visa and ticket.”

The 28-year-old photojournalist, who was awarded the Pulitzer for the coverage COVID-19 pandemic for Reuters news agency, was scheduled to fly to New York on Monday. She tweeted on October 18 , “I was on my way to receive the Pulitzer award (@Pulitzerprizes) in New York but I was stopped at immigration at Delhi airport and barred from traveling internationally despite holding a valid US visa and ticket.”

Sanna Mattoo said this was the second time she was stopped from travelling abroad in the past four months. “Being able to attend the award ceremony in New York was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me,” she added. In July, she was not allowed to travel to Paris for a photography exhibition as a winner of the serendipity Arles Grant-2020.

Sanaa Mattoo works with Reuters and won the Pulitzer with three other photographers of the agency. The Press Club of India expressed concern and demanded that the Union government should come clean on the matter.

In the case of Govindraj Mahalingam, whose pioneering work on biofortification of Pearl Millet won him the prestigious Norman E Borlaug Prize, ‘It was a case of so close, yet so far’. Though, he reached Iowa where the World Food Prize (WFP) organised the award ceremony as part of a 3-day event, he could not receive it in person at the event on October 19. He also had to miss the customary reception that followed.

“Accepting it virtually via Zoom from the place where he was staying, Dr Govindraj said due to being in isolation, he had to resort to the mode, but was deeply honoured and attributed the success and the prize to many who contributed along with him”.

On August 30, the WFP had announced that Dr Mahalingam Govindraj, senior scientist for crop development at Harvest Plus and the Alliance of Biodiversity International based in Hyderabad will be conferred with the award endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation.


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