A Memorable Duet Song
"This song created a ripple of positivity as hundreds of unemployed graduates bought auto rickshaws and made trips across the towns, getting paid to drive."
By Vintage Assam
In the first few decades of the twentieth century, hundreds of young educated Assamese men came out from the villages to the towns. They were employed as teachers, Hakims, clerks et al. It was a life of comfort in the newly emerging urban areas with access to education, medical facilities, government quarters and most importantly large tracts of land. However as the population increased, things became worse. Land acquisition became difficult, rents increased and there was rampant unemployment. It was all doom and gloom for their next generation. There was, of course, a dearth of opportunities but what made it worse was their unhurried and laid-back nature and lack of entrepreneurial enthusiasm. For the people in the village, the existence of a large number of young men and women is held to be a great boon but in the urban areas, the same is considered to be a serious disadvantage. As Dr Dilip Dutta writes, “for others in the town even their (unemployed educated men) breath could cause a thunder.”
It was during this critical time when unemployment was becoming a chronic problem that two artists came out to the streets to encourage their fellow brethren. Sometime in the early 1970’s, Bhupen Hazarika and his younger brother Jayanta rode an auto rickshaw in the streets of Guwahati and sang the memorable duet - “Autorickshaw solao ami duyu bhai / Guwahati kori Gulzaar" (We brothers are riding anauto rickshaw turning Guwahati into a blossoming garden). This song created a ripple of positivity as hundreds of unemployed graduates bought auto rickshaws and made trips across the towns, getting paid to drive. It not only provided comfort in the time of distress but also inspired a generation of young men to abandon their laid-back nature and understand the value of hard-earned money. The rest as they say is history.