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The Caravan

The Caravan October 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

6 min.
art of darkness

For half a century, nearly a hundred watercolour paintings by an artist known only as the “Anonymous Indian” sat in the basement of a French psychiatric hospital, forgotten among old files and debris. Featuring scenes of nature and daily life as well as allusions to contemporary politics, the works were sent in 1950 to the Saint-Anne hospital in Paris by Ramanlal Patel, a psychoanalyst based in Bombay. With their gentle colours and undulating lines, the paintings hardly evoke madness, let alone a case of “paranoid psychosis.” But such was Patel’s diagnosis of their creator in the partial set of observations that accompanied them. Briefly displayed, they were then left in a dank corner until a team of psychiatrists rediscovered them at the end of the twentieth century. Founded in 1867, the Saint-Anne…

7 min.
shifting sands

At the Barawa labour camp outside the Qatari capital of Doha, a small patch of grass has taken on an outsized significance. When I visited in late July, dozens of labourers were lying on a scrubby lawn, a novelty in Qatar’s desert landscape. The lawn was new, an attempt—ambitious or pathetic, depending on one’s viewpoint—to remind the camp’s occupants of home. “My previous camps were barren, but a year ago they shifted me here,” Mohammad Ansari, an electrician from Bihar, told me. “The greenery is good for my heart.” His colleague Ra-him Khan, who came here from Uttar Pradesh, disagreed. “This is it, then,” he said, plucking at a few blades. “This is FIFA’s gift to us.” Qatar secured the rights to host the 2022 football World Cup in 2010 amid allegations…

8 min.
preaching the peace

In Thailand’s deep south, a region on the Malaysian border that is infamous for harbouring a decades-long violent separatist insurgency, a Chinese Muslim called Hu Ya Feng was reading Immanuel Kant. It was not for leisure. The German philosopher is required reading in the mandatory Peace Studies programme assigned to all students at Fatoni University. “This is a very unique programme,” the tall, smiling student from Shandong told me. “I wanted to study in Thailand because it’s a beautiful country, and it’s much closer to my family than a university in the Middle East.” He was in his fourth year, studying Islamic law and Arabic at the university in Pattani province, which attracts students from places such as Cambodia, France and Papua New Guinea. Founded in 2004, Fatoni University has an idyllic…

8 min.
to the barricades

Two weeks before the Group of 20 summit was held in July last year, rail-signalling equipment was set on fire at 12 locations across Germany, including its capital, Berlin, and Hamburg, the summit’s host city. A group called Shut Down G20 claimed responsibility for the attacks, which it said were meant as an “assault on capitalism’s central nervous system.” G20 summits have a history of civil resistance. At every summit, protesters gather in large numbers outside the meeting venues to draw attention to various causes—climate change, human rights, anti-war movements—or disrupt proceedings. Protesters are known to clash with the police and vandalise public infrastructure. For the German police union, the nationwide wave of arson was not just a reaction to the summit—it represented “a new level of escalation in left-wing extremist terror.”…

6 min.
cost of convenience

Early in September, the Madhya Pradesh chief of the Congress, Kamal Nath, announced that if the party came to power it would build a gaushala in every panchayat in the state, which amounts to a staggering 23,412 gaushalas. A fortnight later, as the party president, Rahul Gandhi, headed to Bhopal for his first speech on the campaign trail for the state’s upcoming election, billboards of him doing a Shiva abhisheka dotted the town. For a party fighting Shivraj Singh Chouhan, a three-time incumbent chief minister of middling popularity, this seemed an odd electoral strategy—defending its own religious credentials rather than attacking the government for its failings. The choice of Kamal Nath as party chief embodies all the Congress’s weaknesses in Madhya Pradesh—most notably, a lack of regional leadership and a serious…

8 min.
uncivil law

In late August, while investigating the violence at the Bhima Koregaon memorial in Pune earlier this year, the Pune police raided the homes of several well-known human-rights activists, scholars and lawyers, and arrested five among them. The arrests were made under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act—a law that has been widely criticised for its draconian nature. Amid public outcry over the arrests, the Congress too panned the government. “There is only place for one NGO in India and it’s called the RSS,” the Congress’s president, Rahul Gandhi, tweeted. “Shut down all other NGOs. Jail all activists and shoot those that complain. Welcome to the new India. #BhimaKoregaon.” The Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi stepped up to argue in favour of the accused in the Supreme Court. Regardless of such gestures by the…