On the Open Road: Unveiling the True Unity and Strength of India
Dr Aniruddha Babar
“In the tapestry of our unity, don't heed divisive hymns,
Those who preach "us and them," in falsehood swims.
A nation undivided, under one flag we stand,
In the heart of India, woven by a shared strand.
Trust in unity's song, let brotherhood proclaim,
For from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Noklak to Mumbai we are Indians, bound by a collective flame.”
In a nation as diverse and culturally rich as India, where myriad languages, religions, and traditions intertwine, the true essence of unity often eludes the casual observer. It is only when one embarks on a journey, traversing the vast landscapes and diverse terrains, that the tapestry of India's real unity and strength becomes vividly apparent. The road, often considered a mere physical passage, transforms into a metaphorical bridge connecting hearts, erasing boundaries of discrimination, hatred, and insecurities. On this journey, what prevails is not only the absence of negativity but a profound presence of love and a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood.
As the wheels roll over the varied topography, one witnesses a remarkable phenomenon – the blending of identities, the harmonious coexistence of communities, and an unspoken pact of mutual respect. The road, in its simplicity, becomes a canvas where the colors of diversity mix seamlessly, creating a masterpiece that reflects the true spirit of India. This unity is not enforced but emerges organically, nurtured by the shared experiences of the open road.
The road, as a unifying force, dismantles the barriers that may exist on maps and in minds. It is on these thoroughfares that people from different walks of life converge, sharing spaces, meals, and conversations. In such moments, the divisions of caste, creed, and religion dissipate, giving way to a shared understanding of humanity. The real India emerges not in the grandeur of monuments or the cacophony of urban life but in the simplicity of roadside chai-palora stalls where people from diverse backgrounds sit together, sipping tea, and engaging in conversations that bridge the gaps of ignorance.
Discrimination, a stain that has marred the fabric of many societies, loses its grip on the open road. Here, the only discrimination that exists is between the various flavors of amazing street food, meals at the Dhabas, the diverse landscapes that unfold, and the myriad adventurous stories that each traveler carries. The road acts as an equalizer, allowing individuals to appreciate the uniqueness of each other's journeys without imposing preconceived notions or biases.
Hatred, often fueled by ignorance and fear, finds no solace on the open road. The journey becomes a pilgrimage of understanding, where travelers learn not only about the diverse cultures they encounter but also about themselves. Prejudices dissolve as individuals come face to face with the shared struggles and triumphs that bind them together as citizens of one nation.
Insecurities, whether economic, social, or cultural, lose their grip when one is on the road. The highway becomes a metaphor for progress, offering opportunities for collaboration and shared growth. The stories of resilience and perseverance, heard at roadside dhabas or on the overnight buses crisscrossing the country, become a testament to the indomitable spirit that unites India's people.
What prevails on the open road is a profound sense of love, transcending the boundaries of language and ethnicity. Strangers become companions, offering assistance to fellow travelers in times of need. The spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood is not merely an abstract notion but a tangible reality witnessed in the warmth of shared moments under the open sky.
As I stand witness, during my recently concluded 3200 KM “solo” motorcycle expedition from Dimapur to Mumbai organized by “Project Constitutional Justice” themed “Connecting worlds-For the People, For the Nation”, I discovered that the real unity and strength of India unveil themselves not in the corridors of power or the confines of cultural homogeneity but on the open road. It is in the journey, where the wheels of progress turn, that the true character of the nation is revealed. The road, with its twists and turns, serves as a metaphor for the complexities of diversity, and yet, it is on this very road that the threads of unity are woven seamlessly. As we navigate the highways and byways of this incredible nation, let us recognize and celebrate the unity that emerges organically when we travel and live life together, embracing the diversity that defines us as Indians.
(The writer is a faculty in the Department of Political Science at Tetso College in Nagaland)
January 15, 2024