To round up our year in long-form journalism, here are some of our stories from 2017, selected by The Caravan’s editors.
The cockeyed vision of RK Laxman
Nakul Krishna in January
RK Laxman died on the sixty-fifth anniversary of the Indian republic. He was 94 years old, and ailing after a series of strokes. A social critic with a vastly larger daily audience at his height than that of any contemporary columnist or academic, he has been lionised, even by the institutions and people he spent his life satirising. Even at the peak of his fame, Indians always regarded Laxman as eminently ordinary, as one of their own, perhaps conflating the Common Man and his creator. But this does Laxman the injustice of being reduced from the complex, acerbic, dark figure he was to a sentimental caricature. Two years after his death, it is time to go beyond the treatment of Laxman as everyone’s favourite grandfather, pronouncing amusing verdicts on the foibles of politicians over morning tea. It is time to ask some hard questions about him, about the vision behind the drawings and the sensibility behind the humour. Where did he come from? How did he do it? And what did he do, exactly?