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The Caravan

The Caravan June 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
12 Issues

in this issue

6 min.
the people’s voice

Half a decade ago, when I was in school, I faced a penalty of five rupees every time I spoke in my mother tongue—Kashmiri. The principal reprimanded us if her ears detected a syllable of the Kashmiri language. I never paid the fine. Neither did any of my classmates. In spite of this regular admonishment, we believed that speaking our own language was neither a mistake worthy of punishment, nor a mark of humiliation. The school must still be following the same policies, but today, I see hope and resistance. Kashmiri, the only Dardic language—a branch of Indo-Aryan languages spoken across Pakistan and Afghaistanthat has a literature, is fighting its extermination. “The story of the resistance of the Kashmiri language is not a recent one,” Zareef Ahmad Zareef, a Kashmiri poet renowned…

6 min.
social contract

The Hyundai Santro that picked me up last December at a bus stop at Oon, a small town in the Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh, had a bumper sticker that read, “musli ki kripa”—musli’s benevolence. Unlike the usual references on bumper stickers, musli was not some local deity. It was, in fact, an herb, a cash crop cultivated by farmers of the region, which is widely used for Ayurvedic medicines and sold at a price as high as ₹ 1,500 per kilogram. As we drove to the village of Raibidpura, Deepak Verma, who owned the car—he was the sole car owner among the farmers in his village—proudly claimed to have brought this unconventional crop to the village. It was not musli, however, that had brought me to Raibidpura. I first heard…

7 min.
burning resentment

“We’ve worked here so fucking long, they should give us an award, send us off with flowers and five or seven lakhs,” Gyan Bahadur Acharya told me one morning last January. We were inside the premises of the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, and Acharya, a slight, scowling man, was sitting cross-legged near the steps of the Bhasmeshwor ghat. On a row of raised stone platforms in front of us, bodies burned on wooden funeral pyres. Tending to them were cremators in white dhotis, many of them Acharya’s protégés. One lobbed packets of vegetable oil into a fire, followed by bundles of straw; another, using a long bamboo pole, gently reversed the course of a blackened foot that had drifted from the rest of the body. Acharya, who is 68 years old,…

5 min.
heat and dust

The temperature was nearly forty degrees Celsius when I left the Iraqi capital of Baghdad at dawn on 20 June 2018. I was riding in a bus with a group of local environmental activists, who pointed out the monuments of their beloved, but war-torn, city. As soon as Baghdad was left behind, large stretches of palm trees appeared over the horizon, and the landscape changed. The grey, concrete T-shaped walls, designed to protect from explosions, gradually gave way to small shrubs and high, green-leafed reeds. In the distance, small huts began to appear, made with ancient building methods, using mud, straw and reeds. We drove through the city of Nasiriyah, famous for its dates, and for being the scene of a bloody battle, in 2003, that ousted the former dictator Saddam Hussein.…

8 min.
unhealthy obsession

In late April, the United States Trade Representative—the agency responsible for developing and recommending US trade policy to the president—released its annual report, called “Special 301.” The report analyses trade policies of countries across the world, especially their intellectual-property laws, and categorises them. India has been put on what the report calls a “priority watch list,” which includes countries judged by the USTR as having “serious intellectual property rights deficiencies” that require the agency’s increased attention. India has been put on the list for a record twenty-seventh time, and is accompanied by ten other countries, including Russia and China. The agency warns: “For such countries that fail to address U.S. concerns, USTR will take appropriate actions … pursuant to World Trade Organization or other trade agreement dispute settlement procedures, necessary…

8 min.
a hundred years of amnesia

About a hundred years ago, over the month of April 1919, the city of Amritsar was a site of massive unrest. During the First World War, Punjab was a hub of anti-colonial activity. The passage of the Rowlatt Act—a colonial law meant to curb sedition—was seen as an attack on Indian civil liberties and Mohandas Gandhi’s call to protest the law led to a vigorous response in Amritsar. On 10 April, there were violent clashes between the British Indian military and protestors. On the evening of 12 April, Hans Raj, a 23-year-old aide of the freedom-movement leader Saifuddin Kitchlew, attended a meeting of nationalists at the Hindu College in Amritsar. Hans Raj informed the attendees about another meeting that had been planned for the next day at the Jallianwala Bagh, to…