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The Caravan

The Caravan February 2019

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

7 min.
high tide

With an old sky-blue surfboard tucked under her arm, Ishita Malaviya walked across the white sand of the Kodi Bengre beach in Karnataka’s Udupi district, towards the greenish-blue waters of the Arabian Sea. It was a cool evening. The sun was setting, with its last rays spreading across the beach. Even to my untrained eye, the foamy waves seemed unrulier than usual. After entering the water, Malaviya, who is India’s first female professional surfer, waded deeper and deeper. Finally, she mounted the board with a confidence stemming from years of experience. For a while, she seemed to be going steady, but an unanticipated wave made her slide off the board and splash into the water. This happened a few more times. I asked her about it after she came out, and…

5 min.
in perfect harmony

In January 2015, Kavish Seth was travelling the country as part of the Jagriti Yatra, a two-week train journey for young entrepreneurs to meet prospective role models. He was 22 years old, a recent graduate in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, and hoping to forge a career as a musician—although he worried about how restrictive the metropolitan indie scene would be. Seeking to kill time on the train between Nalanda and Gorakhpur, he pulled out his guitar and started playing. A co-passenger looked at him and said, “Ye kya bahar ka baja rahe ho? Kuchh apna bajao”—Why are you playing a foreign instrument? Play an Indian one. The Jagriti Yatra helped Seth address his concerns about a music career. Neha Arora, a fellow traveller, offered to work with…

10 min.
falling fortunes

The pressure-cooker manufacturer Prestige reported soaring profits last year, as did its primary rivals in the cookware market. But the good news for these companies came with bad news for the economy. The chairperson of Prestige told The Hindu that increased profits had come hand in hand with a fall in competition from the unorganised sector. “There are three or four organised players” in the industry, he said, listing a few rival brands. “The rest are all unorganised.” Since the government had implemented the goods and services tax, or GST, “the unorganised competition is reducing.” Official data claims that the Indian economy is growing at more than 7 percent per annum. But unofficial data contradicts that contention. A recent survey by the All India Manufacturers’ Organisation revealed that the economy has…

8 min.
pyrrhic victory

The ease with which the Awami League won the Bangladesh general election on 30 December 2018 surpassed even its most optimistic expectations. The party won 288 of the 299 seats in the country’s parliament. Even dictators holding sham elections, such as Saddam Hussein in Iraq or Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union, would have felt embarrassed at such a rout of the opposition. Sheikh Hasina Wazed was sworn in as prime minister for a third consecutive term. The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, promptly congratulated her on her “resounding victory” and said the results indicated “Bangladesh’s stunning development under her dynamic leadership.” China, too, was quick to deem the elections smooth and successful. And yet, this was nowhere near the dream victory it seemed on paper. The ruling party’s campaign was…

8 min.
mimic men

In September last year, the Supreme Court overturned a ban on the entry of women of menstruating age into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, triggering a violent conflict that has lasted for months. While the Left Democratic Front state government accepted it as a duty to implement the court’s verdict, the opposition parties such as the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party sided with those protesting the ruling. The BJP and the Sangh Parivar outfits have emerged as the face of the conservative side, inciting religious passions among devotees. In a bad imitation of the BJP, the Congress has tried to construct the debate as a clash between religious practices and the constitutional principle of equality. One of the Congress’s top leaders from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor, wrote in an article in The Print…

72 min.
data plans

WERE IT NOT FOR THE SUITS, sombre faces and plush chairs, the launch of Digital India would have had the aura of a pop concert. It was the first day of July in 2015, and thousands of people had filled the arena of the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Delhi. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi entered, the crowd erupted with cheers. Before the presentations began in earnest, jumbotrons played a digital animation accompanied by heavy electronic music. Light—sometimes blue, sometimes yellow—bathed the stage. Modi himself sat at the centre of the onstage dais, flanked by the finance minister, Arun Jaitley, the electronics and information technology minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, and a supporting cast of other officials. Behind and just to the right of Modi, in the middle of a mostly out-of-view…