Raksha Kumar

Raksha Kumar

The author is a Bangalore based video journalist freelancing for the New York Times and the BBC. She graduated from the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University in May 2011 where she majored in TV news. She is a Fulbright Scholar and has worked in various media outlets in India. She tweets @Raksha_Kumar.

Tehelka controversy: Can powerful editors get away with sexual harassment?

For more than a decade now, Tehelka magazine has been respected by the media fraternity for its fearless coverage of illegal defence deals, land rights issues, gender equality and communalism. Then, what happened two weeks ago in an elevator of the Grand Hyatt, Goa that not only shattered the reputation of the magazine, but blacklisted it for a long time to come? Tarun Tejpal, the patron of Tehelka, is said to have sexually assaulted a female colleague during the annual THiNK fest that Tehelka organises every November. He sent an email yesterday afternoon to the Managing Editor of the magazine, Shoma Chaudhury saying that he has ‘recused’ ...

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February 10, 2013
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Is music just music or does it have a nationality?

In the early 1980s, when Ghulam Ali’s melody ‘chukpe chukpe raat din’ and Nazia Hasan’s sensuous ‘aap jaisa koi’ took Indian film-viewing audience by a storm, the armies of both nations were engaged in a severe conflict on the highest battlefield on earth – the Siachen glacier. Two decades later, the Siachen conflict grew to become one of the major factors for the Kargil war of 1999, in a parallel universe at around the same time, the Pakistani band Junoon was making the youth of India groove to the tunes of ‘sayonee’. If talent and armed conflict could remain separate decades ago, today, when the online world is casting a ...

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Dabangg 2: Crass, idiotic and senseless

Reading that Dabangg 2 had made close to Rs150 crore in less than 14 days perked up my interest. After all, I wondered, what would it take for a film to become one of the highest grossing Bollywood films of all times? With enormous curiosity and an absolutely open mind (I haven’t seen its prequel, Dabangg.) I marched into a near-packed theatre armed with a bucket of popcorn. The first kidnapping sequence reminded me of senseless south Indian action films which are omnipresent on movie channels these days. The mindless violence and a desperate attempt at comedy already began to irritate my ...

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Kasab coverage in the Indian media

Unlike the Pakistani media that reported the hanging of Ajmal Kasab sparingly, the Indian media featured the story very prominently all day yesterday. I can vouch for the fact that for Indian television and online journalists it was a busy field day. Literally, all angles of the story were covered – the actual hanging, the mercy petition, 26/11 survivors, 26/11 martyrs and Kasab’s last wish. One of the reasons that got many elders in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to watch television news was the invincible dumbing down spirit that India TV, a 24 hour Hindi news channel, exhibits time and again. ...

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Barfi!: A sweet cine-treat for all

For someone who had not seen the rushes, Barfi! was a pleasant surprise. When I walked into the theatre I was unaware that I was about to watch a film where the lead actor had a speech and hearing impairment, and that the lead actress was autistic. About ten minutes into the film, when the audience is told that Barfi, Ranbir Kapoor’s character in the film, had severe impairments, I braced myself to watch another emotive movie that would leave me crying profusely and feeling sorry for the differently-abled. Until the end, I kept waiting for that moment. The film manages to ...

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Thank you for letting me travel to Pakistan!

Pakistan had always been a reality to me, unlike for some people who couldn’t believe that there was another nation carved out of the Indian subcontinent. But for me, it was just another nation that existed before I was born.  In 2007, I chanced upon a scholarship to finish a part of my semester in Kinnaird College, Lahore. Lahore fascinated me ever since. It was in Lahore that Sahir Ludhianvi (my favourite lyricist) spent his romantic years; where Jaun Eliya (my favourite poet) struggled through his life, and Saadat Hasan Manto (my favourite writer) passed away. While my only fear was what the ...

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Assam violence: Is there a solution?

“I have been harping on the point that we should focus more on Assam,” I overheard a friend saying, when I entered the Press Club in Delhi. After a long day of hard work, I just wanted to catch up with friends and not discuss the raging issues of the world that we journalists so often do. With a cringe I approached the table that had seven people seated around it, with serious looks on their faces. “Can we talk about the weather, please?” My voice was sarcastic. “Yes! What do you people care about the Northeast?” came an uncompromising retort. Offended by ...

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India: Who’s the fairest of them all?

While I sat lazing one Sunday morning, I received a frantic phone call from a friend, “My naani (maternal grandmother) thinks I will never be married!” she yelled. “She says I am 28-years-old and dark!” she exclaimed. Fairness was central to the lives of our older generations (I keep asking why that was, to no answers!). Even long before the British arrived in the subcontinent, the fairer among the Indians were well received in social settings and marriage markets. I remember my grandmother referring to her grandmother as being “as white as snow” (and hence being immensely beautiful). Therefore, the subcontinent has ...

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Boys just can’t be girls

Sitting alone in a train compartment, I waited for my co-passengers to arrive in Bangalore. Like several people, I enjoy being a silent observer of those around me and particularly on a long journey that I was about to undertake, I figured, it was a fine pastime. I was headed from Bangalore to New Dehli.  A lady, not more than 35-years-old, struggled her way into my compartment carrying a rather heavy child in her left arm and balancing a huge suitcase in her right. Her hair undone, sweat rolling down her forehead, her eyes showed relief that she made it ...

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Changing times: ‘I always wanted a daughter’

Chandini is only about four feet, nine inches tall. Her body seems to have naturally bent from the strain of having carried four children, one after another, on her waist for about a decade now. She had her first child when she was 17-years-old.   She ruefully points at her first born, a boy, who was desperately trying to reattach a broken arm to a doll’s body, and says: I took one look at the child, and I couldn’t stop my tears She had wanted a daughter. Jagat, Chandini’s husband, earns his living by screening the trash and selling what is possible to the scarp ...

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