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The Caravan

The Caravan March 2021

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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

1 min.

THE LEDE 8 Camilla Caraccio is a writer and visual journalist from Italy. She has covered socio-environmental issues, culture and identity from India, Jordan, Kosovo, Poland and Lesotho. She is a media graduate from SOAS University of London. 11 Claudia Bellante is an independent Italian journalist who reports on social issues in Latin America. She collaborates with several magazines across the world, including Internazionale in Italy, Rhythms Monthly in Taiwan, and Marie Claire and El País in Spain. PERSPECTIVES 14 Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is a political theorist and social activist. He is a co-editor, with Karthik Raja Karuppusamy, of the new book Shudras: Vision For a New Path (Penguin). 18 Himanshu Upadhyaya is an assistant professor at Azim Premji University in Bengaluru. Abhishek Punetha is an independent researcher and former Girish Sant Memorial Fellow. 22 S…

7 min.
rainbow coalition

In November last year, the Polish artist Przemek Branas completed his latest performance piece, “Miner’s Kiss.” The work centres on the twentieth-century writer Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz and a homosexual lover he had lost in his youth, echoing a largely forgotten queer history of communist Poland. While it is a slight departure from the religious iconography and pop elements seen in Branas’s previous works, the central theme has not changed: the homophobia modern Poland has come to reckon with, prompting many to feel disenfranchised in their own country. In early 2019, a previously unknown resolution, to declare certain areas “LGBT-free zones,” became a political agenda in Poland’s conservative heartland. Two years later, around a hundred municipalities in the southeastern part of the country have already embraced the statement. This has sparked fury at…

6 min.
sacred and profane

One afternoon in early November 2019, Mega Trisnawatii posed for a photograph on the waterfront of Ancol, a seaside zone in the far north of Jakarta, which fills up with locals and tourists over the weekend. The photographer, her husband, Febry, had a digital camera around his neck and held a sleeping one-year-old boy in a baby carrier. After taking the shot, along with their other three-year-old son in tow, the family headed to their car. Mega is a 27-year-old Instagram celebrity with over fifty-four thousand followers. In the photos on her account, her head is covered by coloured hi-jabs and her body wrapped in floating dresses that reach her ankles. She was the brand ambassador of Amily, an Indonesian clothing brand, in 2019, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, she took…

11 min.
fielding fire

As Christophe Jaffrelot wrote in a recent piece in the Indian Express, after the implementation of the Mandal commission’s recommendations, in 1990, Hindutva forces worked out an agenda to stop the advancement of the Shudras. The government, then under VP Singh, extended reservations in public universities and government employment to a large section of the Shudras that was officially labelled the Other Backward Classes. Organiser, the mouthpiece of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, wrote at the time of “an urgent need to build up moral and spiritual forces to counter any fallout from an expected Shudra revolution.” In the varna-fixated ideological view of the Sangh and its electoral appendage, the Bharatiya Janata Party, Shudras are immoral and unspiritual. The “moral and spiritual” forces, in other words, meant Dwijas—the Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas…

8 min.
a slow death

At the time the Constitution of India was being framed, BR Ambedkar, the chairman of the drafting committee, stressed that he wanted the Comptroller and Auditor General of India to be a completely autonomous institution. “I am of the opinion that this dignitary or officer is probably the most important officer in the Constitution of India,” Ambedkar said in the Constituent Assembly in May 1949. “He is the one man who is going to see that the expenses voted by Parliament are not exceeded, or varied from what has been laid down by Parliament in the Appropriation Act. If this functionary is to carry out the duties—and his duties, I submit, are far more important than the duties even of the Judiciary—he should have been certainly as independent as the…

10 min.
wolves in sheep’s clothing

Addressing the people in Baltimore in 1864, US President Abraham Lincoln said, “The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty.” On 9 March, the case California Department of Fair Employment and Housing vs Cisco Systems, Sundar Iyer & Ramana Kompella will come up for hearing before a state court in California. Last June, the DFEH filed suit before a federal court alleging that the IT giant Cisco had failed to address discrimination and harassment against one of its engineers, anonymised as “John…