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The Caravan

The Caravan September 2020

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.

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Delhi Press Patra Prakashan Pte LTD
12 Issues

in this issue

6 min
shades of the grey

In the shadow of Pune’s Trump Towers lies a little bakery. Its décor, which includes frosted pillar lamps, cast-iron sconces, Eiffel Tower chairs, and name—Le Flamington, inscribed in calligraphic gilt—are airy homages to the iconic Paris patisserie. What sets it apart from the hundreds of francophilic cafes strewn across the country is the fact that it is owned by a pair of gay men in a long-term relationship, one of them a Muslim, the other a Parsi. The continued audacity of its existence in an atmosphere of minority-silencing makes Le Flamington a monument to food, faith and forbidden love. Khuzaan Dalal, who manages the business, and Taha Khan, who handles the cooking, welcomed me to the bakery, all smiles and good cheer. They offered me their signature dish, known as “The…

7 min
mob mentality

On 11 August, three journalists from The Caravan were following up on a story they had recently reported from northeast Delhi. Two Muslim women and a teenager had stated that they were sexually harassed while attempting to lodge a complaint at the Bhajanpura Police Station. The complaint was about a Hindutva mob—drawn from local residents of the area—that had marched through the neighbourhood, raising communal slogans to celebrate the bhoomi poojan for the construction of the Ram temple, which took place in Ayodhya on 5 August. Instead of registering a first-investigation report, the women told the reporters, the police assaulted them. After speaking to the complainants again for the follow-up story, the reporters had stopped to take photographs of a street adorned with saffron flags. In a matter of minutes, they…

7 min
trickle-down effect

On 9 July, Nepal’s cable operators suddenly announced that they would stop airing all private news channels operating from India. The decision had come in response to a Zee News show that claimed the Chinese ambassador in Kathmandu, Hou Yanqi, had enticed—or, as they put it, “honey trapped”—Nepal’s prime minister, Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, into acting at China’s behest. The story was one in a series of unsubstantiated, and often absurd, reports that have emerged from a section of Indian media following the territorial disputes of May. Less than a week later, cross-border tensions between the two countries flared up once again, when Oli remarked that the real Ayodhya lies near Birgunj—making Nepal, and not India, the birthplace of the Hindu deity Ram. More recently, only days after India’s prime minister,…

11 min
bled dry

The COVID-19 crisis has been punctuated by frequent protests from healthcare workers—most often nurses and ASHA workers—complaining about unacceptable working conditions, inadequate staffing, low salaries, long hours of work, lack of personal protective equipment and so on. Instead of obtaining any respite, they have faced threats of dismissal or disciplinary action. Other than people clapping for them, and military helicopters showering petals over hospitals at the government’s command, almost nothing has been done for health workers during the pandemic. Faced with a chronic shortage of staff, state governments are looking at short-term measures to shore up the public health system. In May, the Maharashtra government asked Kerala to lend it some nurses for a few months. Tamil Nadu has hired additional nursing staff, as well as doctors, on six-month contracts; the…

88 min
crime and prejudice

{ONE} SHADAB ALAM BEGAN his day as usual on 24 February 2020. He woke up at his house in Old Mustafabad, in northeast Delhi, where he had been living for more than half a decade, and left by 10 am for Samrat Medical Store, on Wazirabad Road, near Brijpuri Chowk. He had worked at the pharmacy for many years, and it was his job to open it every morning. The previous afternoon, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kapil Mishra had delivered an incendiary speech near the Jaffrabad metro station, a few kilometres away. Hundreds of women were staging a sit-in at the station to protest the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, passed last year by the Narendra Modi government, and the proposed National Register of Citizens. A wave of demonstrations against the CAA and…

9 min
licence to kill

ON 23 FEBRUARY, as brutal assaults on Muslim communities began in northeastern Delhi, I was in Kashmir. I did not have access to the internet—it was the seventh month of the communication blockade, which, along with an increased military presence and an intensified crackdown on politicians and activists, accompanied the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019. I left home in the morning, to meet journalist friends at the media centre set up by the Indian authorities, the only facility where you can access the internet and social media via a virtual private network. When I reached Polo View, the city centre of Srinagar, a journalist asked me, “What are you doing here? Delhi is burning!” When I asked what had happened, he broke the news of the communal violence in…