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The Caravan

The Caravan April 2018

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.
chasing the machine

On a cold February morning in 1959, a 37-year-old American engineer fled Prague aboard an Air India flight. For the two years before that, Morton Nadler was suspected of being a spy by opposing sides in the Cold War—by the FBI in his country of birth, the United States, and by the government in his country of adopted citizenship, Czechoslovakia. Upon landing in Calcutta, he was driven to the Indian Statistical Institute, or ISI, where he would spend the next two years working with India’s first computers. Nadler had joined the Communist Party in 1936 and subsequently was on the watch list of intelligence agencies in the United States. Chafing from an incident in which he lost a job as a radio engineer in Chicago due to his political sympathies and…

5 min.
shell company

Bachura, a small village in Kashmir’s Budgam district, wakes up every day to the sound of shots fired by personnel from the Indian armed forces and military groups who practise at a firing range nearby. Surrounded by the karewas—mineral-rich terraces—and dotted with almond trees, the range is six kilometres from the Srinagar airport. Many young people in Bachura, a small village in Kashmir’s Budgam district, have taken to collecting and selling used bullets for a small income. The noise from the gunfire has acquired a different meaning for the young people of the village, many of whom, in recent years, have taken to collecting and selling used bullets. The small income it generates—around R 14,000 a month—helps them with daily and family expenses. The army sometimes practises with different ammunition, such as…

7 min.
a tale of two museums

In 2001, a large collection of artefacts from the trans-Himalayan caravan trade in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were discovered in a dilapidated serai in Kargil’s Old Bazaar. It did not immediately occur to the owners—the Bhats, a prominent family in Kargil—to build a museum to house them. The Bhats had lived in the city for four generations, working in the fields of politics, commerce and welfare. But it took three years, some debate and a few coincidences for the Munshi Aziz Bhat Museum of Central Asian and Kargil Trade Artefacts to open to the public. The curator, Aijaz Hussain Munshi, told me when we met in June 2017 in Kargil that the family had nearly forgotten its role in the caravan trade until his older brother, Munshi Abdur Rehman, decided…

5 min.
after the match

My colleague Pratik Purakayastha and I drove to Haokha Mamang Leikai, a village just off the Indo-Myanmar highway, on a rainy morning in September last year. Every few kilometres we would spot a poster with an image of eight boys in the national football team kit, arms crossed in front of their chests. Wherever we saw these posters, we would stop to ask directions. At one such interval, a young boy crossed us on a bicycle, promptly turned around and motioned for us to follow. Five days later, Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, boys the young cyclist had grown up with in Haokha, were announced as members of the Indian team in FIFA’s under-17 world championship. Eight of the 21 boys representing India were from Imphal and its neighbouring…

5 min.
hard labour

In July last year, François Andrelie had her first ultrasound examination at Salud Digna, a clinic in downtown Tijuana, Mexico, that conducts tests at popular prices. A small-built 34-year-old Haitian woman, Andrelie was in the third month of her first pregnancy at the time. When I went to visit her the next day, at a small apartment that she shares with her boyfriend and two other Haitians, she spoke of being “happy but also a bit sad.” “I live a life that I do not like,” she said. “When I was young I thought I could give everything to my son when this time came.” She would like to become a doctor, and return to Haiti, but she knows that the chances of either happening are slim. Andrelie left her hometown,…

9 min.
in bad faith

On 22 March, the Karnataka state government issued a notice granting minority status to the Lingayat community. Over the last few years, the issue of separate religion status for the Lingayats has seen intense debate, invoking issues related to history and religious doctrine, as well as politics. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has adopted a position consistent with its ideology, seeing it as a move that threatens Hinduism by fragmenting it. The RSS is duplicating arguments and rhetoric it has used to suggest that Sikhism is not a separate religion, a stance that has caused much acrimony and some violence in Punjab. In the long term, the RSS viewpoint holds the potential to stir similar trouble in Karnataka. Last year on 20 August, the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat held a meeting of…