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The Caravan

The Caravan July 2019

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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12 Edições

nesta edição

6 minutos
bitter ashes

In October last year, the All India Agarbathi Manufacturers’ Association donated a five-foot-tall incense stick to the Bengalee Association Bangalore for its Durga Puja pandal at the Manyata Tech Park. The AIAMA, a collective-bargaining and advocacy body that was established in 1949 and currently counts over seven hundred agarbatti manufacturers among its lifetime members, wanted to use the gesture to “celebrate womanhood and raise awareness about women workers in the agarbatti industry.” According to Sarath Babu, the president of the AIAMA, the agarbatti industry employs over two million workers in the country. Women constitute eighty percent of the workforce, and are mainly engaged in bamboo processing, agarbatti rolling and packaging activities. Karnataka, where the cottage industry was introduced during the 1920s by the kings of Mysore, and whose forests are rich…

6 minutos
rogue protocol

On 2 October 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi journalist and columnist for the Washington Post, entered the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. He intended to marry his Turkish fiancée, and had come to collect papers confirming his divorce from his first wife. Instead, a hit team of 15 Saudis, who had arrived in the country earlier that day, were waiting for him. Khashoggi never left the consulate. Istanbul’s chief prosecutor said that the journalist had been chopped to pieces using a bone saw. An advisor to the Turkish president told the media that Khashoggi’s body had been dissolved in acid. The US Central Intelligence Agency concluded that the assassination had been ordered by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman. Later that month, I attended a hostile-environment training programme…

7 minutos
leaves of grass

On a Sunday morning in March 2015, José Mujica, the president of Uruguay, left his farm in Rincón del Cerro, on the outskirts of Montevideo, for his office in the capital. That day, he was scheduled to hand over power to his successor, Tabaré Vázquez, a leader of the leftist Frente Amplio coalition. Vázquez had also been Mujica’s predecessor in government. As Mujica travelled the nineteen kilometres in his old Volkswagen Beetle, many Uruguayans saluted his passage. After five years in the presidency, the former guerrilla was leaving office with an approval rating of 65 percent. His administration would be remembered for its social reforms—decriminalising abortion, authorising same-sex marriage and making Uruguay the first country in the world to legalise the cultivation and sale of cannabis, a peaceful initiative in a…

9 minutos
the diminishing middle

Before campaigning for India’s general election started in April this year, I was in Delhi discussing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidates in the capital with party workers. As we talked about the BJP’s prospects, I asked whether they thought the Congress would make something of a revival in Delhi. One party worker dismissed my query immediately. “Of course not, this is clearly Modi’s election!” he said. On the sidelines, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress were facing a breakdown in talks over an alliance that did not come through. The BJP, at the time, was dealing with a public showdown of its own. Udit Raj, one of its prominent Dalit members of parliament at the time, was furious over the party’s delay in ticket distribution, specifically its reluctance to renominate…

9 minutos
worms in the chocolate

On 15 August 2014, in his first Independence Day speech as prime minister, Narendra Modi said: “whether it is the poison of casteism, communal-ism, regionalism, discrimination on social and economic basis, all these are obstacles in our way forward. Let’s resolve for once in our hearts; let’s put a moratorium on all such activities for ten years. We shall march ahead to a society free from all such tensions … My dear countrymen, believe in my words.” Lots of red flags should go up when a prime minister puts an expiry date on social harmony, but most mainstream media quoted it either uncritically or approvingly, including a national daily describing it as “non-partisan.” By 2014, the media should have been alert to the doublespeak of, and the division of labour in,…

10 minutos
drawing the line

On 8 January this year, the Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which declared that a specified category of undocumented immigrants residing in India—Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who hail from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan—would not be treated as illegal immigrants. This implied that only Muslims, atheists and practitioners of indigenous faiths from these countries would be treated as undocumented, making them fit for detention and deportation. In the month that followed, there were widespread protests in India’s northeastern states, where people felt the legitimisation of foreigners would threaten the culture and demography of the indigenous people of the region. On 13 February, the protestors were momentarily victorious, as the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had to abort the plan to table the bill in Rajya Sabha…