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The Caravan

The Caravan November 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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12 Issues

in this issue

6 min.
digging deep

Eight years ago, a team from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage travelled to the eastern hills of Mizoram and identified a few potential heritage sites. One of these was in the village of Vangchhia, in Champhai district, where they stumbled across around 170 menhirs—tall, upright stones from prehistoric times—of varying heights. They were embossed with scenes from what appeared to be traditional Mizo hunting practices, and images of Mizo musical instruments and heroes from the community’s legends. In May this year, following an excavation that had begun in January, the Archaeological Survey of India announced that it had found the remains of a lost civilisation. Vangchhia was not a new discovery for 82-year-old P Rohmingthanga, who has been the convenor of INTACH’s Mizoram branch since 2009. When…

7 min.
persecution complex

On 23 September, Delhi’s Constitution Club hosted two well-attended gatherings. The first was the concluding day of the National Convention against Assault on Journalists, a sombre affair with a media fraternity under fire quietly asserting its rights. The late Gauri Lankesh, whose brazen murder last year had sparked national outrage, was remembered. Prominent journalists such as Siddharth Varadarajan and Josy Joseph spoke about press freedom and its current state in India. It was all very sobering—until one discovered the other, even more sobering, event taking place at the same time. This was the first Conference on National Commission for Men, organised by Deepika Narayan Bharadwaj, an engineer-turned-documentary filmmaker, in association with the Save Indian Family Foundation. It was a full house by the time the event was to start at 3…

7 min.
never forget

On 30 August 1887, in the town of Brunswick, Tennessee, a black mill worker named James Eastman came out victorious in a fight his white employer had started. On 1 April 1892, an unidentified black man—reported to be the only black man in the county—was “standing around” in a white neighbourhood in Millersburg, Ohio. According to the Aurora Daily Express, it was “alleged that he ‘sneaked around town,’ that he ‘stared at people,’ and committed several grave misdemeanors against the people and dignity of the state. But it [did] not appear that he perpetrated any crime.” On 23 July 1926, a farmer’s daughter in Wythe County, Virginia, gave birth to a child whose father was Raymond Bird, a black farmhand. All three men were lynched. Hazel Turner was lynched in Lowndes…

10 min.
false friend

Kalvakuntla Chandrasekhar Rao, the first chief minister of Telangana, dissolved the state assembly in early September, eight months before the end of its term, and announced polls in December. He pitched this as a reaction to Telangana’s “political fragility”— caused, he said, by the opposition’s attacks on his government—but even with his silver tongue he could not make the excuse sound convincing. Telangana’s next state election was due to coincide with the 2019 general election. Rao—better known by his initials, KCR—acted to avoid that situation, in which his rhetoric of state pride risked being drowned out by the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaigns for national power. KCR’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi can also now focus all its resources on one battle at a time, rather than split its strength across two…

9 min.
spoonful of sugar

Since November 2014, the alternative treatment industry in India has been bolstered by the establishment of a dedicated ministry called the ministry of ayurveda, yoga & naturopathy, unani, siddha and homeopathy, or AYUSH. Upgraded from its status as a department, the AYUSH ministry now operates parallel to the ministry of health and family welfare, which focusses primarily on evidence-based modern medicine. In the past four years, the AYUSH ministry’s budget has more than doubled to R 1,428.7 crore in 2017-2018. With such serious money under its belt, plans for the industry’s scale and growth have been ramped up. In 2017, the union minister of state for AYUSH, Shripad Yesso Naik, a Bachelor of Arts graduate with no scientific training, announced that the centre had approved proposals to set up 100 AYUSH…

8 min.
city plights

On 1 June, HD Kumaraswamy, newly sworn in as the chief minister of Karnataka, met the former Infosys chief Narayana Murthy at the latter’s residence in Jayanagar, a plush neighbourhood in southern Bengaluru. Before Kumaraswamy even had a cabinet in place, he was at Murthy’s door, seeking guidance on constituting an expert committee to solve Bengaluru’s civic problems, particularly those related to infrastructure and waste management. Kumaraswamy was aping the many similar state initiatives that have sought to address problems of Bengaluru’s governance by creating “expert bodies” headed by information-technology czars. This trend started in 1999 when the then chief minister SM Krishna constituted the Bangalore Agenda Task Force, headed by the Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani and continued with BS Yeddyurappa constituting another expert body—the Agenda for Bengaluru’s Infrastructural Development. While the…