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The Caravan

The Caravan May 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
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12 Issues

in this issue

4 min.
breaking the code

On a humid April evening at the Symbiosis International University’s girls’ hostel in Pune, most of the students stepped out for a stroll. Arifa Orfan, a 23-year-old computer applications student from Ghor in Afghanistan, picked up her laptop and walked to a nearby cafe. Her classmate, Habiba Hussaini, from Ghazni in Aghanistan, accompanied her. When I entered the café, the women were already seated with their laptops and books open next to them. They looked hassled. The internet at the cafe was acting up. During their time in Pune, two women from Afghanistan set up “Hour of Computer,” an online education project with modules on programming, coding and web development. We had met so that they could show me their project, “Hour of Computer,” which comprises modules on programming and coding. Its…

10 min.
exit talk

It did not take long to start talking about Brexit with the Friday lunchtime crowd at Café Retro in the small town of Newry in Northern Ireland. Alongside the enduring disbelief and disappointment with the 2016 referendum’s result, in which contrary to England and Wales, Northern Ireland, along with Scotland, voted to remain in the European Union, some had worries of a more personal nature. Among those gathered was a French woman who had lived in Newry for over thirty years and had four children with her partner, who was from the town. She was unimpressed with the UK government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations so far and did not know what her status would be after Brexit, since she and her partner were not married. “The British can be…

13 min.
rocking the boat

On 2 April, thousands of Dalits across the country took to the streets to protest the dilution of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, and declared a nationwide bandh. Through the day protestors faced aggression from the police and Hindutva goons, resulting in the deaths of ten Dalits. The next morning’s headlines, however, seemed to suggest that it was Dal-its who had done the killing. “Nine killed as angry Dalits take to the streets, Madhya Pradesh most affected” declared the Indian Express. The Pioneer titled a story, “Dalit rage singes India; 8 killed.” Many were more concerned with the inconvenience caused by the bandh than the factors that led to it. By and large, the protest saw no support…

8 min.
going south

A child born in Uttar Pradesh is ten times more likely to die in her first year than a child born in Kerala. As far as the infant mortality rate is concerned, the two states are as far apart as the United States and South Sudan. The life expectancy in Uttar Pradesh is also a good ten years lower than that in Kerala. Yet, in October last year, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Adityanath, went to Kerala and said that the state must take lessons from Uttar Pradesh on providing healthcare and running hospitals. The statement was particularly baffling considering that just a few months earlier 30 children had died in a government hospital in Gorakhpur due to the administration’s failure maintain a supply of oxygen. As absurd as Adityanath’s brazenness…

7 min.
love and labour

In a scene mid-way through the movie October, the lead character, Dan, played by Varun Dhawan, is chided by his friends for wasting his time looking after a dying girl he barely knows. What’s the point, they argue. “Do you guys only do something if there’s a point?” he asks. The point, historically, of the love-story plot in Hindi cinema has been about the hero initiating romance, often in regressive ways, with a goal towards establishing a heterosexual upper-caste couple that either lives happily ever after or sometimes dies together when unable to do so. Bollywood movies abound with declarations of love, but the emotional labour and financial stresses that may burden a couple are usually invisible. In October, a film about a hotel-management student who falls in love with a woman in…

5 min.
conversations on gender empowerment

This year, The Caravan hosted the second annual edition of The Bridge: Conversations on Gender Empowerment, at the Shangri La hotel in Delhi. The event featured prominent figures from a variety of professional fields. The topic ranged from women’s rights, everyday assumptions about gender and how to best promote equality. Speakers, including Swara Bhaskar, Gurmehar Kaur, Shehla Rashid, Naina Lal Kidwai, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Brinda Karat, Mantasha Binti Rashid, Sumukhi Suresh, Ananya Birla and Shailaja Chandra, talked about a variety of topics, such as Bollywood’s representation problem, the dearth of women in politics and how to make it easier to combat sexual harassment and report assault. Invariably, the conversations were political. Swara Bhaskar criticised the ruling party for making it difficult for activists to engage in dissent, while Renuka Chowdhury…