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The Caravan

The Caravan December 2017

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
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12 Issues

in this issue

5 min.
mind the gap

On a Saturday morning in September, around 20 people assembled in a room at Khoj International Artists’ Association—a not-for-profit organisation that promotes alternative arts—in a narrow alley in south Delhi’s Khirki Extension. As sunlight streamed in through the large windows, the group, which consisted mostly of women, sat in rows and typed hurriedly on their laptops. A woman, who was walking around and supervising the writers, paused to address the room. “No copy-pasting—every piece of information has to be rephrased,” she said. Everyone present was part of a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, an editing session where anyone can be invited to create pages or revise existing ones on the voluntarily edited online encyclopaedia. The theme, women in Indian contemporary art, was chosen by Khoj and Feminism in India, or FII—a digital feminist platform…

6 min.
heavy metal

On a Sunday afternoon in July, a fellow reporter and I were on our way to Sakhuapani, a sleepy and isolated village about 170 kilometres from Ranchi, Jharkhand’s capital. Cell-phone coverage is sporadic here, and the nearest town, Netarhat, often referred to as the “Queen of the Chota Nagpur plateau,” is about 15 kilometres away. As our sedan turned onto a desolate and narrow road, it was blocked by a row of parked lorries. We had to ask the drivers to shift them and let us pass through to get to the village. It had rained incessantly during our three-and-a-half-hour drive from Ranchi, and it was still drizzling as we approached the village. Sakhuapani is inhabited primarily by the Asuran Adivasi community believed to be India’s first metallurgists. The Asur, predominantly…

6 min.
history detective

When the cultural historian and archivist Nancy Dupree came to Kabul in 1962, she did not know that it would spark a lifelong association with Afghanistan. She died in Kabul in September this year, three weeks short of her ninetieth birthday. Between the mid 1980s and 2006, she and her husband Louis Dupree set up the Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University, or ACKU. It houses more than 100,000 documents relating to modern Afghan history and culture, as well as the largest existing photographic archive on Afghanistan. Two years ago, Nancy gave me a tour of the ACKU library’s stack room, which was lined with racks of catalogued books, reports and documents in different languages. She recounted how she had collected some of these in Peshawar, in Pakistan, during the 1980s, while…

9 min.
media functions

Over the past decade, many prominent Indian media houses have staked their prestige on mega-events where advertisers sponsor speakers ranging from Indian politicians to out-of-office US statesmen. In recent years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has easily been the marquee draw at such events. Though questions have been raised about the dangers of breaching the wall between editorial and business, for much of the industry, these events are seen as a win-win proposition. They attract prominent speakers who create sound bites for big media brands, in return for a platform and wider publicity, with sponsors more than willing to go along. However, recent incidents, featuring two of India’s largest media groups—the Times Group and the HT Media group—have highlighted how such mega-events imperil editorial freedom. In March this year, Modi pulled out…

13 min.
stifling the truth

At around 4 pm on 10 August, hours before the oxygen supply at a hospital affiliated to Gorakhpur’s Baba Raghav Das Medical College ran out, I received a WhatsApp message. The message showed a photo of a letter, written by the operators of the hospital’s oxygen-supply plant, warning the authorities that the supply was running dangerously low. “If oxygen is not arranged immediately,” the operators wrote, “it would threaten the lives of the patients admitted in all the wards.” After verifying this information with a couple of sources at the hospital, I published this story on the local-news website I run, Gorakhpur Newsline, at around 5 pm. The letter had also reached some print publications, but by the time the report appeared in newspapers the next day, 23 children and…

9 min.
lines of control

One day in 2002, when I was a cub reporter with the newspaper Greater Kashmir, I was discussing a story idea with a senior editor when a man walked into the newsroom and called my name. I asked him to sit down and inquired about the purpose of his visit, mistaking him for one of those people who would often walk into the newspaper’s office with a grievance they desperately wanted to get into print. But he said he was a sub-inspector with the crime investigation department and had to ask me a few questions. “Routine work,” he assured me, speaking in Kashmiri and Urdu. He then proceeded to ask me about my parents, my address, and my favourite books and authors. Then, the polite policeman asked me something with such…