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The Caravan

The Caravan May 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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Delhi Press Patra Prakashan Pte LTD
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12 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
cash cows

One of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s most prominent ideological planks has been the issue of cow protection. Its leaders have used the issue to pit Hindus against Muslims, who dominate the meat and allied trades in many parts of the country. But this aggressive rhetoric conceals a different truth: cattle smuggling continues unabated across northern India into Bangladesh, and crackdowns against Muslims have actually led to Hindus gaining an upper hand in smuggling networks. Higher up in the business, investigators have arrested an alleged cattle-smuggling kingpin, who is Muslim, but little information has emerged about the many Hindu-run companies that were closely involved with him. Meanwhile, though the BJP’s love for cattle is in line with an upper-caste religious vegetarianism long promoted by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the business of…

5 min.
curtain call

“And what colour bra were you wearing?” her friend asks. That’s not relevant, she argues, and besides, she doesn’t remember. When she finally answers, if only to dispel the mounting tension, the atmosphere shifts. The motley chorus that was, until a few moments ago, dancing to the Bollywood classic “Choli ke Peechhe kya hai?”— What’s Behind the Blouse?—is now passing judgement. Does it matter that her bra was red? Is it wrong for her to want to look sexy for herself? For someone else? Does she make for a “good” rape victim? Is a feeling the same as a fact? These are some of the questions the chorus poses, first to each other and then to you. You get 15 seconds to answer yes or no, and find out the…

6 min.
plague tales

In March 2020, as COVID-19 lock-downs started to engulf the world, Sunila Galappatti—a dramaturg, editor, and writer—mulled over an experiment in Colombo. The news of the lockdown made her wonder if people were at risk of shrinking into enclosed realities, shunted away in isolation. Could airing people’s experience of the pandemic amount to something? With this thought, she set up lockdownjournal.com. Galappatti told me she had a desire to build a quiet place, where one could think “not about moments and quick-fire exchanges, but about whole days at a time.” The journal houses a collection of first-person accounts of the pandemic—musings, reflections, families reuniting or being forced to live apart, young worrying about the old, journalists working in empty newsrooms, people venturing on walks, tackling tall grocery lists, coping with loneliness,…

11 min.
twists of faith

The Lyab-i Hauz—Tajik for “by the pool”—complex is the tourist hub of the storied city of Bukhara in Uzbekistan, surrounded by the ubiquitous accoutrements of such centres: bed-and-breakfasts, money-changers, souvenir shops and bistros. The rectangular Hauz was created in the seventeenth century—next to the decades-older Kukeldash Madrasa, at the time the biggest Islamic school in Central Asia—by Nadir, vizier to Imam Quli, the khan of Bukhara. A khanqah, or Sufi hermitage, and a caravanserai, both named after Nadir, flank the pool. However, while inaugurating the complex, Imam Quli called the caravanserai a madrasa. As the khan could not be wrong, Nadir added to the structure, commissioning a magnificent portal and adjoining loggia, as well as an additional floor with cells for students. When I entered the Madrasa of Nadir Divan-Beghi, in…

12 min.
flight response

These are tough times for the Indian Air Force. Over the past year, the IAF has been stretched thin due to a border crisis in Ladakh. In order “to conserve flying hours and equipment,” it recently cancelled its showpiece training exercise Iron Fist, which is supposed to be held every three years. The need to conserve came because its fleet only has around thirty squadrons of fighter jets against the 42 authorised by the government. More importantly, it is in desperate need of a qualitative upgrade. After the embarrassing outcome of the limited aerial skirmish over Jammu and Kashmir skies during the 2019 Balakot crisis, an upgrade would at least restore the IAF’s technological superiority over its Pakistani counterpart. The IAF seems to consider the induction of 36 French Rafale…

8 min.
heads of the family

On 20 March, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh appointed Dattatreya Hosabale as its new sarkaryavah—the executive head of the organisation. Though RSS leaders argue in public that his elevation is nothing but a generational change, many of them admit in private that it has to do greatly with the support he enjoys from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Hosabale has helped Modi use the RSS machinery in managing several elections. His willingness to allow the RSS machinery to be used for electoral campaigns makes him exactly the kind of leader Modi needs. He owes a great deal to the prime minister—his status within the organisation has been rising since Modi became prime minister. The BJP leadership, according to sources in the RSS, has long been trying to appoint Hosabale in the position of…