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The Caravan

The Caravan December 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

11 min
mask off

“I have never worn a mask,” Jagdish Chandra told me, in November. The 51-year-old businessman from Kolkata said that he had taken six flights since September and that he carries documents that supported his right to not wear a mask while travelling. “The security person may try to say, ‘I won’t scan you,’” he added. “But, more than following the rules, I need to protect myself.” Chandra, who claimed to have filed around twenty right-to-information requests regarding the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has taken part in several recent anti-mask protests in India, which he described as part of an awareness initiative. “There is nothing like virus,” Ashok Patel told me, a month earlier. “How can something so small harm us?” The 65-year-old former sweet-monger from Rajkot said that he…

6 min
tales of the crypts

In 2013, the autumn edition of Chowkidar, a journal published by the British Association of Cemeteries in South Asia, featured the story of one of its readers, Edward Mitchell. Mitchell knew his grandparents were buried in Poona’s St Sepulchre Cemetery and Bombay’s Sewree Cemetery but was unable to find out whether the graves still existed. “I have very little information on these grandparents, and I wondered if the graves themselves could throw light on them through their inscriptions,” Mitchell asked in the journal’s column “Can You Help?” The column, a fixture in every issue, addresses readers’ queries about family histories or the condition of a relative’s grave. The BACSA—which has been described as “the liveliest Society for the dead”—was founded in October 1976, by Theon Wilkinson, a captain in the third…

14 min
line of narrative control

On 2 October, images of a war memorial in eastern Ladakh started appearing on the social-media accounts of some journalists. The memorial, “Gallants of Galwan,” was built for the 20 Indian soldiers who died in a violent physical clash with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army on 15 June. The unacknowledged source of those images, which made it to all newspapers the next day, was the army headquarters, and the pictures contained more details about the incident than had been made public till date. The inscription on the memorial stated that Colonel Santosh Babu, the commanding officer of 16 Bihar Regiment, and his team had been “tasked to evict the PLA OP (observation post) from Gen A (General Area) Y-Nala and move further to Patrolling Point 14.” It further clarified that…

12 min
now as farce

Just four years ago, though it feels longer, towards the end of TS Thakur’s tenure as the Chief Justice of India, I interviewed a retired judge about the state of the Supreme Court. We started talking in the middle of the afternoon, and when I left the judge’s house it was almost dark. Though initially hesitant, the judge unearthed so many grievances once he started talking that he could not stop. At times he was breathless. In his telling, the top court was a house of cards, its occupants were concerned about nothing but their own interests, the process of appointing judges to it was a sham and the future looked bleak. The judge did not just tell me stories, he named characters. The next morning, at 6 am, I got…

19 min
screen test

When I spoke to a senior staffer of News18 Tamil Nadu in October, I was told the entire organisation was crumbling. Numerous staff members had been forced to leave, the tone of the channel’s coverage had changed sharply over the last two months and all editorial decisions were now being made by a distant Delhi leadership. From being one of the state’s most successful and fastest growing channels a few months ago, News18 had gone to seeing its ratings and viewership nosedive. Worst of all, the staffer told me, was the air of fear floating around the channel’s Chennai office. “All it’ll take is one social-media post saying I’m an anti-national and I’ll be fired,” the staffer said. “None of us can know for certain, but we could be just hours…

41 min
executive (and) editor

{1} AS IT BECAME CLEAR that Donald Trump had been ousted and Joe Biden was to be the next president of the United States, Anant Goenka tweeted, I hope after Biden’s victory, American news media takes time to introspect its partisan ways. They must make a better effort at representing the views of the entire population, not just that of their respective loyal, echo-chambered community of readers. This is apparently one of Goenka’s favourite themes. In a recent interview with the journalist Shoma Choudhury, Goenka—the executive director and heir apparent of the Express Group—spoke of the need for “a certain cause, a certain role that has to define why we are doing this, this profession.” He invoked the legacy of the Indian Express from the Emergency, when the paper defied the authoritarian Indira…