For the past several years, warnings have been sounded about democracy in India—whether they be about the fate of the country’s minorities, its courts, its intellectuals. These worries steadily build, before erupting into some major protest, taking over the popular consciousness, both domestically and abroad. For the past several years, India’s government has steadily chipped away at the edifice of its free press and, over the past week, once again gone too far. This was the week my government attacked my home.
Home for me is in a multistory building in the center of New Delhi, on the edge of a sprawling park, a short walk from the markets of Karol Bagh and the upscale shops of Connaught Place. I have not visited in some time, but it is where my heart is. This is where you can find the offices of The Caravan.
The Caravan is a small magazine—it has a staff of just a few dozen people—and its readership pales in comparison with other members of India’s English-language printed press. Yet its diminutive size masks its power: The publication is read by government ministers and opposition leaders, and larger outlets regularly follow up on its stories. Its team of talented staff writers is supported by a glittering list of contributors, all of whom see the magazine’s strengths as standing apart from India’s larger mainstream publications. These people are my family. For the past seven years, I have contributed stories to The Caravan as a freelance journalist, typically on health and science with a particular focus over the past year on the coronavirus pandemic. It is a place where reporters and editors uniformly believe in the power of the written word, where speaking truth to power is a minimum expectation.