IN DECEMBER 2013, news bulletins on local Guwahati television broadcast snatches of a song that had just been released to the media by the city’s District Transportation Office (DTO). The song immediately caught the attention of the city’s autorickshaw drivers. Its melody was exactly that of ‘Autorickshaw Solao’ (“We drive autorickshaws”), a 1968 recording by the legendary singer Bhupen Hazarika and his brother Jayanta that is still a favourite among Guwahati’s auto drivers today. “We drive autorickshaws, us two brothers,” the Hazarikas sing in Assamese, “touring around Guwahati city ... my brother is MA-pass ... we are the educated unemployed, but do not harbour any ‘complex’ against this work.” “I ask my brother sometimes,” the song continues, “will your girlfriend marry you, now that you did not become a professor?” “She understands the dignity of labour,” comes the reply.
The lyrics of the DTO version, however, strike a different tone altogether.
Brothers … Drive ahead, obeying all vehicular rules and regulations.