In January 2013, The Caravan, India’s only narrative journalism magazine, completed three years. The magazine, which was earlier in publication from 1940-88, was re-launched in 2010 as long form narrative journalism magazine dedicated to politics, culture, art and literature.
The third anniversary special, which came out in January 2013, had the theme of journeys, signifying a sense of movement and experience– Howard W. French on Hong Kong’s Chungking Mansions, that is at the centre of global cell phone trade; Deborah Baker on the Auden brothers, one a poet and the other a mountaineer, during the twilight of Empire. The cover story was on Dibakar Banerjee, one of India’s most exciting and creative new directors.
In the December issue of 2012, The Caravancame out with a Media Special that reflected on the state of the Indian media, noting its major transformations, possibilities and limitations, and the expectations of those who create and consume it. It was also a moment to look back at the course that The Caravan has taken leading up to our January special issue on journeys.
Since its re-launch in 2010, the magazine has tried to reach out to a different readership that looks out for nuance and perspective in the stories of our times, narratives that point to the trends defining politics and culture in India and the world. In these three years, our stories have mixed in-depth reportage and informed opinion while providing a stage for good storytelling by tapping into the literary pulse of the subcontinent. Our profiles of those who make and influence news, whether it is of Manmohan Singh’s precarious leadership, the story of the Hindu Right in the rise of Narendra Modi, or Samir Jain’s ordering of the print universe through Times of India, have set a standard for long form journalism in the country. Our commitment to incisive reporting remains uncompromised in spite of legal battles with racketeer educationists or run-ins with those in power. The Caravan’s 2012 story on the remains of the Sri Lankan war was awarded an award for humanitarian journalism by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
A sizeable increase in ourcirculation from 15,000 to 45,000 in just three years has been an encouraging reminder of the relevance of long form journalism in India. With over 175,000 unique visitors having viewed our new website since its October launch, not only hasThe Caravan’s growing popularity made ita must-read on several international media websites, but also put the magazine on India’s cultural map– participating in the Jaipur Literature Festival, conducting the Caravan Conversations on politics and culture in several cities across the country and publishing some of the best commentary and criticism on literature and the arts in our pages. Caravan Conversations are literary forums, discussions and conversations that are organized across the country bringing together the intellectually curious and aesthetically inclined, in an appreciation ofarts, culture, literature and politics. These events are organized in bookstores, art galleries, cafes, and literary and cultural centers. Over the past three years, the magazine has organized more than two-dozen such Caravan Conversations.
This year’sJaipur Literature Festival saw our editors chairing several important sessions on contemporary literature and culture. The Caravan also celebrated its three years in print at the JLF, by hosting a dinner that had the best of the literary world in attendance.
Recently The Caravan brought its unique narrative style to the world of fashion and lifestyle, with the richly produced Caravan Style and Livingmagazine.The inaugural issue of CSL came out in May 2012, and the second issue in November 2013. The third edition will be offered along with the March issue of The Caravan.In February, the magazinealso launcheda new science and technology magazine, Periscope, which provides a detailed exploration of a wide range of scientific and technological subjects with a special focus on their effects on culture and oureveryday lives. Periscope’s first cover story tells the story of SanthiSoundarajan, the Indian athlete stripped of her silver medal at the 2006 Asian Games at Doha thanks to a failed gender verification test. It goes on to explore the biology behind what makes us men and women and how diaphanous a concept sex and gender can be. Other stories include a short evolutionary history of the human hand, an examination of the changes the technology of hidden cameras has unleashed on today’s society, and a report on the advances made in genetic research that would allow the duplication and manipulation of personal genetic blueprints. Both Persicope and Caravan Style & Living are being offered along with The Caravan.
In January, The Caravan magazine also launched its new initiative to recognise the most vibrantcafés and bookstores in three cities in the country—Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru—and promote themas Caravan Quarters.In the modern world, cafés and bookstores have been important parts of a city’s cultural and literary life, where writers, artists and travelers come together, share ideas and work on their enduring masterpieces. The Caravan Quarters is an initiative to curate and identify such hubs that define the cultural and literary character of a city. Towards this end, The Caravan has long-listed 150 cafes and bookstores in the three metros. Through a process of reader/consumer voting and jury evaluation, The Caravan will identify the most vibrant cafes and bookstores from within this long-list as the Caravan Quarters. Voting will be done at drop boxes placed in the selected cafes and bookstores, as well as on the Caravan website www.caravanmagazine.in/caravan-quarters