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Raksha Kumar is a multimedia journalist focusing on human rights, politics and social injustices. Since 2011, she has reported for The New York Times, BBC, Guardian, TIME, South China Morning Post, Foreign Policy, Scroll.in and The Hindu.
In March 2018, she was awarded the National Foundation for India Media Award for her reportage on land rights in India. In 2017, she was shortlisted for Kurt Schork Memorial Awards in International Journalism. For her work on land conflicts in India, she was awarded the Chameli Devi Award for Outstanding Media Personality in 2016.
As a reporter, her focus areas are land and forest rights of the most vulnerable communities. However, since these issues cannot be looked at in isolation, Raksha found herself increasingly reporting on armed conflict around resource extraction in places like Chhattisgarh and Kashmir.
In 2015, she wrote, shot and directed a documentary film on Rationalists in Contemporary India. It was aired by India's public broadcaster, Doordarshan. The film has been screened in 29 locations across the country until now.
The same year, Raksha was selected as a Chevening Fellow by the University of Westminster to research on Hindu Right in the UK. This helped Raksha build on her post graduate dissertation which was on Hindu Fundamentalists in India.
With a Fulbright Scholarship for Leadership Development, she went to the Columbia University in New York City to pursue a Masters in Science. As a student, she was offered the Scripps Howard Fellowship to report from Israel and the West Bank. Since 2011, Raksha has reported from 11 countries across the world.
Raksha worked as an editor at NDTV, leading English news channel in India. She was the editorial head of a two-hour prime time news show, where she lead a team of about 20 junior journalists.
A graduate of Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi, Raksha was a dedicated student and a passionate public speaker.
Modern India is one fifth of the size of the US but has almost five times its population. It is no surprise then that land ownership and dispossession are hot button issues in the country today. The podcast is an interview with Michael Levien, assistant professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University. Oxford University Press has recently published Levien's first book titled Dispossession Without Development: Land Grabs in Neoliberal India. As a sociologist, Levien has important insights into land struggles in the world's largest democracy as he links it not just with corporate interests, but draws attention to the nexus between corporations and politicians. Clearly, in present day India, the one who owns the land, calls the shots.
"Historically ubiquitous at least since the 15th century and integral to the rise and consolidation of capitalism, land dispossession has re-emerged as a hot button issue for governments, industries, social movements and researchers."
Therefore, Levien's book is crucial to understand how the future of modern India will be shaped, what its pulls will be and how it will fare in comparison with China, a powerful country with a different conception of private property.