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The Caravan

August 2021

The Caravan is India’s first narrative journalism magazine. Stories are reported in a style that uses elements usually reserved for fiction—plot, characters, scenes and setting—to bring the subject to life. Like The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Granta, the context of a Caravan story is something more substantial. In India, this niche—one for the intellectually curious, the aesthetically inclined and the upwardly mobile, has remained vacant. That is, until The Caravan.

Delhi Press Patra Prakashan Pte LTD
12 Issues

in this issue

1 min
38 guruji’s lie

It has remained a long-standing puzzle whether the book We or Our Nationhood Defined was authored by MS Golwalkar, the second chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or was just his translation of a Marathi book written by Ganesh Savarkar, a founding member of the RSS. This is no ordinary authorship dispute. The book was heavily inspired by the German fascist ideology of the Nazis, and recommended that India deal with minorities the way Nazi Germany dealt with Jews. Golwalkar disowned the book after Gandhi’s assassination, at a time when the RSS and the Nazis had become increasingly reviled. However, a comparison of We to Savarkar’s work, along with a mountain of other historical evidence, proves beyond doubt that Golwalkar indeed was its author. The book’s dangerous ideas remain an…

2 min

THE LEDE 8 Varsha Bansal is an independent journalist based in Bengaluru. 10 Arman Khan is a Mumbai-based journalist who covers the intersection of gender, travel, sexuality, queer culture, and lifestyle. His work has appeared in publications such as Them, Vice and Femina, and the Indian editions of Vogue, GQ, Grazia, Architectural Digest and Condé Nast Traveller. 12 Shaistha Khan is a freelance culture writer who writes on Saudi Arabia, the wider Gulf region and the South Asia diaspora. Her work has appeared in publications including Shondaland, Teen Vogue, Travel + Leisure, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia and The National. 14 Fawad Hasan is a journalist based in Karachi, working on stories related to labour and human rights. PERSPECTIVES 20 Kumar Sanjay Singh is an associate professor of history at Swami Sharddhanand College, Delhi University. 25 Virginius Xaxa is…

6 min
made in crisis

One morning in April, an anxious 15-year-old girl boarded a bus by herself, near her parents’ home in Fatehnagar, a town in Rajasthan. After being beaten and forced to get married by her parents—both daily-wage workers—she realised the only way to slip out of this situation and continue with her education was to make a run for it. Soon after boarding the local bus, she called a local anti-child-marriage activist and told her she would reach their office in roughly two hours. “I was scared and didn’t know what to do,” the young adolescent, who dreams of becoming a police officer someday, told me. “This was the only thing I could think of.” Her brother’s wedding had been fixed, and her parents, who have not been able to earn much due…

5 min
ground reality

Located next to a multiplex in the posh coastal suburb of Bandra, the 356-year-old Navpada Kokni Kabrastan in Mumbai wears a sullen look. Railway tracks run parallel to its eastern wall, just beyond the section reserved for COVID-19 burials. The cemetery used to be reserved for members of the Konkani Muslim community but, during the pandemic, it opened its doors to all Muslims. In May 2020, as the cemetery prepared to bury its first COVID-19 victim, it faced unlikely opposition. Sanjay Naik, the secretary of the Mumbai Cricket Association, and some residents of the neighbourhood put up huge locks on the cemetery gates. The cemetery workers filed a police case, and the Bombay High Court eventually ordered that the locks be removed and the cemetery be opened for COVID-19 burials. “He doesn’t…

5 min
sample space

While scrolling through dance videos on Instagram and TikTok, one is likely to find some rendition of the gwara gwara—an Afrobeats dance step. Featuring a synchronous swing of the shoulder and knee, the move was first created by the South African artist DJ Bongz and popularised by Rihanna’s performance at the 2018 Grammy Awards and Childish Gambino’s music video for “This is America.” In January this year, AfroDesi, an Indian dance group, collaborated with The Rabbit Dancing Crew, from Ghana, to perform the gwara gwara to a medley of “Afghan Jalebi,” a song from the 2019 Bollywood film Phantom, and “Lifuende,” a song by the Ivorian musician Serge Beynaud. Founded by the Tanzania-born dancer Aakash Phulwani in 2018, AfroDesi combines Afrobeats with Bollywood to create a unique genre. It runs dance…

11 min
demolition row

It was the first working day of the week, and Abid Asghar woke up early to head to his small office in Karachi’s central district. This was no ordinary Monday, however. Asghar and his comrades had taken time off from their jobs for a far more important task: preventing thousands of houses from being demolished in Karachi. “Around 9 am on 21 June, we were making placards for our protest, which was supposed to take place in front of Bilawal House” —the headquarters of the Pakistan Peoples Party, which heads the provincial government in Sindh— “to demand our just rights and fair compensation for the broken houses,” Asghar told me. “However, I received a call from someone and got to know that they are going to arrest me soon.” Soon after he…