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The Caravan

The Caravan September 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

9 min.
culture vulture

In a bright, spacious and strikingly empty building around four years old, Indian art and artefacts stood observed by a few bored guards. The museum’s only guide insisted that that morning in early June was exceptional and that the halls were usually crammed with tourists from around the world. Recently incorporated into a new cultural centre known as Square 500, behind the city’s iconic Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the museum has an ideal location for luring Sofia’s growing numbers of tourists. But despite our guide’s assurances, Square 500’s unique collection of Indian art, the largest in the Balkans, has been neglected for many years by the public, scholars and the state. The Indian collection was once a priority of the Bulgarian government and a showcase of its aspirations to cosmopolitan modernity. In the…

8 min.
fahrenheit 2018

Madhosh Balhami was sitting in his courtyard feeding his two cows grass one afternoon in March 2018, when he heard the sound of gunshots at a distance. A short time later, three men came running past him, towards a leafy, tree-lined path descending on his left. As soon as they took a few steps down the stairs, they abruptly turned and came running back, straight into Balhami’s brick-and-stone house in Balhama, a saffron-growing village on the outskirts of Srinagar. He knew at that moment that his house was marked. Balhami is the pen name of Ghullam Mohammad, a 52-year-old saffron farmer and poet. The three men who had run in were members of Ghazwat-ul-Hind, a new militant group led by Zakir Musa that claims links to Al Qaeda and supports the Islamic…

12 min.
match fixing

Even more than in previous instances, the July elections in Pakistan were swayed by the army, a veritable state within the state. The country has experienced three military coups since its independence, which allowed the army to govern the country for some thirty years altogether. Ten years ago, the military vacated centre stage, allowing the formation of civilian governments after elections often tainted by irregularities. The vote in 2008 brought about a two-stage democratic transition. The first phase was when the Pakistan People’s Party won the general elections owing to the wave of sympathy caused by Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. The second phase was in August 2008 when General Musharraf yielded the presidency to Benazir’s widower, Asif Zardari. Five years later, for the first time in its history, Pakistan saw not…

9 min.
the great purge

In the second week of August, addressing a campaign rally in Kolkata, the BJP national president Amit Shah yelled into a mic: “Are the Bangladeshi infiltrators a security threat to this country or not?” A crowd of BJP supporters roared that they were. “The bomb explosions that occur in Bengal are carried out by the Bangladeshi infiltrators or not? Should they be thrown out or not?” he went on with his noxious rhetoric. Shah’s comments echo those made by several BJP leaders on the immigration issue in Assam. Using the terms “infiltrators” for Muslim Bangladeshis and “refugees” for Hindu ones, the BJP is appropriating a long-standing anti-foreigner sentiment in Assam to demand curbs on immigration into the state from Bangladesh. With the promise of acche din seeming like a crude joke,…

8 min.
the states’ man

“Under our constitutional system, no single entity can claim superiority,” Muthuvel Karunanidhi, then the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, wrote in The Hindu on 15 August 2007. “Sovereignty does not lie in any one institution or in any one wing of the government. The power of governance is distributed in several organs and institutions … Even if we assume that the Centre has been given a certain dominance over the States, that dominance should be used strictly for the purpose intended, not for oblique purposes.” At the time Karunanidhi wrote the article, his Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government was in its second year of office and enjoyed cordial relations with the Congress and the left parties at the local and national levels. Even so, it opposed a move by the central government—via…

57 min.
on a wing and a prayer

{ONE} NARENDRA MODI’S first prime ministerial visit to France, in April 2015, came amid long-drawn negotiations over India’s purchase of Rafale warplanes, manufactured by the French company Dassault Aviation. In 2012, a Congress-led government had declared Dassault the lowest bidder in a contest to supply 126 fighter jets for the Indian Air Force. After nearly ten years of cautious planning, field trials and rigorous evaluations, the country was, by most accounts, on the brink of finally acquiring its long-awaited seven squadrons, when Modi’s government took over. Modi now had a chance to make his mark on the negotiations. The Indian prime minister’s schedule for the first full day of his visit included, among much else, round-table discussions with French CEOs from the infrastructure and defence industries, as well as talks with the…