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The Caravan

The Caravan March 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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12 Issues

in this issue

7 min.
jumbo exports

In the winter of 1953, the Indian prime minister received an unusual letter, from a five-year-old boy. “Dear Mr Nehru,” it began. “Here in Gran-by, a small town in Canada, we have a lovely zoo, but we have no elephant.” Peter Marmorek had heard from his father that Jawaharlal Nehru had “lots of elephants and could probably dig up one for us.” Having understood the need to “dig up” quite literally, the child added, “I never knew that elephants lived underground, [but] I hope you can send us one.” It was an odd letter to merit the attention of a prime minister involved in the whirl of postcolonial nation-building. But it was not altogether surprising to government officials. Since Independence, the Indian government had cultivated an international reputation for generosity when…

7 min.
culture of fear

It was a week before Eid, and the streets of Mari Abad were lit up. Even though it was midnight, women and children were out shopping for clothes, haggling with shopkeepers for earrings or firmly telling the tailor to have their clothes ready two days before Eid. Standing there, it was hard to tell that the people who live there are not entirely free. Mari Abad is a small neighbourhood of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province in Pakistan. Over the past two decades, this neighbourhood of around five thousand houses has come to be known as a Hazara area. The city’s military cantonment lies on one side of Mari Abad, with Quetta’s signature dark, barren mountains on the other. Rangers from Pakistan’s frontier corps check every car that enters Mari…

13 min.
losing by religion

In 2002, the Israeli political scientist Sammy Smooha published an article titled “The Model of Ethnic Democracy: Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State,” in the journal Nations and Nationalism. Smooha defined ethnic democracy based on a broad but precise set of criteria. It is, first, the product of ethnic nationalism, a majoritarian ideology that implies a strong sense of belonging and often one of superiority. This identity is also premised on the rejection of minorities, generally perceived as threats to the survival and integrity of the ethnic nation. According to Smooha, although many countries have gone down the road of ethnic democracy, the archetype of this political system remains Israel—a state that endeavours to combine an ethnic Jewish identity and a parliamentary system drawing its inspiration from Western Europe.…

10 min.
poor prognosis

Dalli–Rajhara is a small town in the Balod district of Chhattisgarh, home to iron-ore mines that feed the Bhilai steel plant. Situated in the town is the Shaheed hospital, famous for being run for, and by, the mine workers. While it provides many services—such as internal medicine, surgery and psychiatry—the mainstay of the hospital is its department of obstetrics and gynaecology. Dr Saibal Jana, one of the founders, has been carrying out deliveries since the hospital was established in 1983. Pregnant women travel as far as a hundred kilometres in the hope of a safe delivery at the hospital. The Shaheed hospital was initially financed by mine workers. They were inspired by Shankar Guha Niyogi, who founded the Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh, a trade union for miners, in 1977. The hospital…

2 min.
true media needs true allies.

I think that there will come a time when people will ask of the Indian media: What were you doing in those five years when a government came to power that spread hate and poison, that controlled the media, what were you doing then? And very few in the Indian media will be able to hold their heads up and say that we were calling the powerful to account. I think Caravan is one of the few magazines that will be able to hold its head up, if it stays afloat. And I hope it stays afloat, which is why I’m saying, please read Caravan. ARUNDHATI ROY, Author I love reading The Caravan, because the kind of reportage it does, is away from the din of fast news, of something which is…

1 min.
true media needs true allies.

Democracy just cannot survive without a free press. And certainly, a country like India, which is so diverse, can absolutely not survive without a free expression of facts and views. And because the mainstream media is now shutting its mouth, out of greed or out of fear, the role of magazines like Caravan becomes all-important. It is very important that all of us should subscribe to magazines like Caravan, so that they get an independent source of funds and can continue to be doing completely independent and fearless work. ARUN SHOURIE, Journalist and Politician My favourite literary genre is long nonfiction, and no one does a better job of it than Caravan magazine in India. I recall that the very best review that I read about my book The Difficulty of Being…