Fuelling India: Discovering the lives of Indian truck drivers first-hand
Truck drivers… We’ve never really given them much thought. In many ways, they exemplify the marginalized wheels that keep India moving, inhabiting its vast, shadowy ‘informal sector’ that employs four out of five Indians.
But what are those long days and nights on the highway for truckers actually like? To find out, Rajat Ubhaykar ventured on a 10,000 km journey across India hitchhiking on trucks, covering over twenty states in six months. In this talk, Rajat will speak about his experiences on the road and share what he’s learnt on his travels, from the genesis of truck art to the structural causes behind the ubiquity of overloading. He will also discuss the evolution of travel writing as a genre in India, and how it has immense potential to generate empathy and curiosity about India’s informal sector; achieve a more granular exploration of India’s stunning regional diversity; and in doing so, capture India’s fascinatingly uneven engagement with modernity.
Rajat Ubhaykar is the author of the critically acclaimed travelogue Truck De India: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Hindustan (Simon & Schuster India), based on his 10,000 km journey across India hitchhiking with truck drivers. He trained as an electrical engineer at IIT Kanpur and went on to study journalism at the Asian College of Journalism after a stint in management consulting. A recipient of the PoleStar Award in 2016 for his reportage, his work has appeared in publications such as Indian Express, Hindustan Times, Outlook Business, Mint, Scroll, among others. He lives in Mumbai, and spends his spare time reviewing books, collecting trivia, and exploring India’s archaeological sites. He has recently cleared the UPSC Civil Services Exam and will soon be joining the Indian Foreign Service.