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The Caravan

The Caravan February 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.

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Delhi Press Patra Prakashan Pte LTD
12 Issues

in this issue

1 min

THE LEDE 8 Tanushree Bhasin is an independent journalist based in Delhi. 12 Mahima Jain is a Bengaluru-based independent journalist and editor. She writes on the environment, gender, culture and socioeconomic issues. 14 Chanthu S is a research scholar in the department of history at University of Hyderabad. PERSPECTIVES 16 Praveen Donthi is the deputy political editor at The Caravan. 22 Parni Ray has worked as a curator for the Students’ Biennale and Kochi-Muziris Biennale, as a visual-arts programme manager at the Serendipity Arts’ Festival and as a gallery executive at Experimenter, Kolkata. She has an MA in arts and aesthetics from Jawaharlal Nehru University and a masters in research from the Royal College of Art in London. 26 Nayantara Narayanan is the public-health editorial fellow with The Caravan. REPORTAGE AND ESSAYS 32 Bhavya Dore is a Mumbai-based journalist…

8 min
spaces and times

It was early morning in Tikri, but the bustling roads were full of life. The aroma of brewing tea rose up in makeshift kitchens. Farmers from Punjab and Haryana, who were braving the January cold to protest the government’s neoliberal agricultural reforms at Delhi’s borders, slowly made their way out of their trolleys. Like most of us, they began their day reading the newspaper over a cup of tea, but their publication of choice was Trolley Times, available at the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Library. Located on the pavement, between two trolleys parked at Pillar Number 783, the makeshift library houses hundreds of books in Hindi, Punjabi and English, donated by the movement’s allies. “Every morning, a few farmers come asking for the day’s Trolley Times, and we have to remind them…

6 min
root cause

The concrete jungle in the shadow of the Srirangam Temple in Tiruchirappalli hides a nascent forest of over ten thousand trees, planted a year ago on 1.25 acres of barren land. Last October, encouraged by the luxuriant outcome, around two hundred people gathered to plant fifteen thousand more saplings on 1.65 acres of railway land in the neighbouring town of Lalgudi. Tiruchirappalli and Lalgudi are among the latest adopters of an afforestation method that is gaining attention across Indian cities. The method, propounded by the Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki in the 1980s, compresses layers of a forest—shrubs, trees, canopies—on small plots of land, turning them into tiny forests. “I wanted to improve the green cover and found this method to be more useful than parks and gardens,” S Vaidyanathan, the revenue…

5 min
frayed threads

The wetland region of Muhamma, located between the Vembanad Lake and the Arabian Sea in Kerala’s Alappuzha district, occupies a significant place in the history of the communist movement in what was once the princely state of Travancore. The region is also one of Kerala’s main centres of coir production. When I visited the village of Madathinkara, in November last year, 50-year-old Kummam Kode Sivadasan and his colleagues were busy in the coir-mat production unit next to his house. The son of an agricultural labourer, Sivadasan took to coir-weaving in 1985, after finishing the tenth standard. “I started as a weaver in small coir factories in our locality,” he told me. “I set up this coir-weaving unit in 2002, with a loan of ₹ 5 lakh.” Though Sivadasan and his…

16 min
fixing the gaze

The month of January is marked by the birth and death anniversaries of Rohith Vemula. Five years ago, after he was pushed to take his own life at the University of Hyderabad—in what Dalits aptly described as an institutional murder—I reported on the defiant politics of Vemula and the Ambedkar Students’ Association that he was part of, and how they were trying to create a “universal language of discrimination” for the country’s marginalised. Early this January, the Bollywood actor Richa Chadha shared on Twitter a poster of her upcoming film, Madam Chief Minister. The film’s title character, played by Chadha, is based on Mayawati, the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and the first leader from a Dalit party to hold such a post in the country’s history. The poster showed…

13 min
selection bias

The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library put out a call for applications for the position of curator early last year. Founded in 1964, the NMML is set in the midst of the lush-green 25 acres of the Teen Murti Bhavan complex in Delhi. Teen Murti was the official residence of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first and longest-serving prime minister, from 1947 to 1964. Apart from the library, the building currently houses the Nehru Museum, the Center for Contemporary Studies and a planetarium. In the five decades since its inception, NMML has been the country’s premier research library for modern history and the social sciences. When I was a student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, from 2007 to 2009, visits to the NMML were a rite of passage. Assuming that the position advertised…