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The Caravan Magazine
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On 8 November 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an announcement declaring that notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 would not be legal tender as a part of his government’s policy to clamp down on counterfeiting and black money. It has been widely reported that this policy would directly impact the real-estate sector, which typically witnesses a significant amount of transactions that are made through cash to avoid taxes. The Economic Times also reported that demonetisation would lead to a reduction of interest rates on housing loans, and consequently, to an increase in investment in the sector in the long-run.

R Nagaraj, an economist and currently a professor at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research in Mumbai, is sceptical about long-term effects of the policy on the sector and its effect on interest rates. Nagaraj is a macroeconomic analyst who has studied the impact of black money on real estate. He has also been a guest professor at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. On 6 December, Kedar Nagarajan, a web reporter at The Caravan, spoke to Nagaraj—over email and a conversation on the phone—about the impact that demonetisation would have on the real-estate and housing industry.



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On 28 November 2016, Gurdev Kaur, a 72-year-old Dalit woman from Jhaloor, a village in south Punjab, was cremated. She had died as a result of injuries sustained during an attack on 5 October. Against the backdrop of a long-standing dispute over agricultural land in the village, the Jutt Sikhs of Jhaloor had mounted a brutal assault on Dalit villagers. They had beaten up the members of the community, and vandalised the latter’s homes—breaking windows, household appliances, and water pipes—and even injured cattle and pets. The Jutts had groped, molested, and beaten up Dalit women. Over 40 Dalits were severely wounded: nine had suffered head injuries; one villager’s arm was broken, while another’s jaw was dislocated. During the onslaught, Gurdev’s leg was broken and nearly hacked off, and multiple bones were crushed. She succumbed to her injuries on 11 November. Since the attack, Jhaloor has become the epicentre of a burgeoning mass movement. At her funeral, Gurdev’s body was wrapped in a red flag—an allusion to communist ideals—and flags bearing the insignias of the Zameen Prapti Sangarsh Committee (ZPSC) and the Bhartiya Kisan Unions—informal, left-oriented coalitions of landless labourers and marginalised farmers in Punjab. Thousands attended her cremation, and swore to continue the movement in her name.

In Vantage, Amandeep Sandhu on how Dalit villagers in Punjab are reclaiming the community's right to panchayat land.



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In 2013, the US government granted its approval for Sovaldi, a blockbuster new drug that could cure hepatitis C. Manufactured by the multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical company Gilead, the pill was more effective against the disease than anything that had come before, and had the potential to revolutionise treatment for millions of patients across the world. But Gilead launched Sovaldi in the US, and some other countries, at the eye-popping price of $1,000 per pill. For an alternative to Sovaldi, many patients looked to India, which had, for some decades, been a reliable supplier of affordable versions of expensive medication. But in fulfilling this role, India had acquired a reputation for flouting the patents of Western pharmaceutical companies. In recent years, the Indian government has been in the midst of complex negotiations about the state of its intellectual property rights regime, and has come under relentless pressure from the US to rein in its pharmaceutical industry.

It was under intense scrutiny from the US government and corporations that, in January 2015, Gilead's application for a patent for Sovaldi came up before the Delhi patent office. At stake in the judgment were billions of dollars, and the fates of tens millions of lives of patients around the world.

In our Health issue, Mandakini Gahlot and Vidya Krishnan's cover story.

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At 76, there are few genres Canadian writer Margaret Atwood has not worked in. Author of seventeen volumes of poetry, eight collections of short fiction, and fifteen novels, she has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, winning once for The Blind Assassin in 2000. Atwood was also nominated for the Man Booker International Prize in both 2005 and 2007.

Her work ranges from incisive realist writing to speculative fiction. The writer and critic Trisha Gupta caught up with Atwood on 30 January, a few days after Atwood’s conversation with writer Patrick French at the India Habitat Centre, Delhi. Gupta and Atwood discussed genre, parental approval and the place of realistic fiction in the digital age.

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In the rest of India, “Twenty20” summons up images of cricket pitches and cheerleaders, but Kizhakkambalam’s residents might sooner associate it with a local charity founded by Sabu Jacob, the chairman of Anna-Kitex Group—a Rs1,200-crore corporation headquartered in Kizhakkambalam, and widely known in Kerala as a garment manufacturer.

Twenty20’s stated mission is to “make Kizhakkambalam a model village by the year 2020.” Since it was started, in 2013, the outfit has built tanks to provide drinking water, sold food at subsidised rates, and run a free 24-hour ambulance service, all funded by the Anna-Kitex Group. In October, 19 members of Twenty20 contested local panchayat elections as independent candidates. The outfit promoted them under its own logo, and Kizhakkambalam voted 17 of them into power.

Zeenab Aneez in The Lede.

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The New York Times's India Ink writes, "Caravan magazine digs deep in a profile of the attorney general of India, the federal government’s top law officer, the “Inside Man.” It’s an important piece and one that’s long overdue, as the story correctly and articulately points out: “In an era when fortunes can be made and lost on the whims of government policy (or the manipulation thereof), billions of rupees hinge on the decisions of the Supreme Court, which has become the ultimate arbiter in innumerable disputes between corporates and the state."

Read the full article, here: www.nyti.ms/15iatfy 

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On 26 March, two weeks before the award show and only 14 months after his appointment, Bobby Pawar was abruptly forced to resign his post as chief creative officer for India at JWT, one of the world’s largest, and oldest, advertising agencies. In the year or so that he had been in charge of advertising content at the agency, Pawar had overseen the creation of campaigns for some of JWT’s most important clients, including Nike, Nokia and Pepsi. In mid March, however, three soon-to-be infamous advertisements for a Ford hatchback called the Figo were uploaded to the online showcase Ads of the World.

The print advertisements boasted about the small car’s generous boot space by depicting three shackled hostages sprawled in the trunk, a happy driver in the front seat, and, opposite the Ford logo, the tagline “Leave your worries behind.” Who uploaded the creative campaign remains unknown. The controversy created by the Figo campaign, however, brought intense scrutiny to the advertising industry at a moment when creatives and suits alike were concerned about the future of their business. 

Rahul Bhatia examines the dramatic changes taking place within the Indian advertising industry.

To read the full article, visit: www.bit.ly/16nHJkP
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Krishn Kaushik on the convenient opinions of Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati | Inside Man

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The Caravan, May 2013 http://caravanmagazine.in/
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