This note is based on my (135 kms.) travel experience from Kharagpur – one of the important towns and prominent railway stations in West Bengal (India) to Seraikela – one of the district towns of Jharkhand (India) via Tatanagar railway station. After attending 39th National Seminar of BIDISHA- a reputed organization for anthropological action-research founded by late Professor P.K Bhoumik (situated at about 20 kms away from Kharagpur town (West Bengal, India), on 9th December, 2012, I reached Kharagpur railway station at about 9.00 AM. I was shocked to know that there was no train to ply on the Kharagpur-Tata route in between 9.00 am to 3.30 PM. Instead of waiting for the train for more than 6 hours, I changed my decision to travel using public transport (bus/auto). I thought that I would be able to cover up 135 KMs within 6 hours using available public transport services. Anyhow I got a bus for Jhargram (about 30 kms) at about 10.30 AM and it took one and half hours to take to Lodhasuli (NH-33 that connects two most prominent cities of India i.e. Kolkata with Mumbai) from where I boarded in a mini truck to reach to Feko and again from Feko to Chichra (West-Bengal-Jharkhand Boarder) by a three wheeler. Then from Chichra to Bahragora (one of the towns of Jharkhand) on the National Highway (NH-33), I traveled by a Zeep that took about an hour to cover about 15 KMs journey. From this, one can very well imagine of the road condition of the Indian National Highway. There was no sign of road in about 10 out of 15 kilometers route. Thus, I reached Bahragora at about 2.00 PM and from Bahragora I took a public bus at about 2.30 PM. The bus took 3 hours to cover about 75 KMs journey on the same National Highway (at a speed of 25 KMs per hour). After reaching to Jamshedpur (Tatanagar)- a district town and renowned for Tata’s Iron and Steel Company, I had an another shock when I learnt that there is no public transport available from Jamshedpur (one district town) to Seraikella (another district town) after 5.00 PM. But I was adamant to reach the destination (to attend a marriage function) without hiring any private vehicle ( not because I wanted to experience the trouble faced by the common people using public transport but I was not having sufficient money as well to hire an expensive private car). Lastly, I boarded in a public town bus at 6.00 PM and after one hour i.e. at 7.00 PM I reached to Kandra - half way in between Jamshedpur (Tatanagar) and Seraikella. From there I tried for about an hour to get any transport (truck/three wheeler/zeep) but all my attempts went in vain. Suddenly, I saw a young man trying to get lift from the public means plying on the road. I narrated him my trouble. He then asked me to accompany him walking to his worksite (one kilometer towards Seraikella from where we were standing) from where (according to that young man) a number of dumpers ply whole night in between the worksite and Seraikella for carrying stone chips. I finally got solace from the agony when I got a seat in the dumper at about 8.30 PM and reached to Seraikella at about 9.30 PM (20 KMs Journey). Finally, I win over all the odds and finally reached to my destination.
Thus, it took about 11.00 hours to cover a distance of 135 KMs. Let me remind the readers that the places I travelled are not backward but prominent places and these are well connected with pucca motor-able roads. Let me tell you again that about more than two-thirds of the people of India use public transport as their only means of travel. And after reading my note that reflects the status of public transport, I simply leave it to you (my learned readers) to categorize India - our beloved country either as a developed or a developing or a backward country.
This question raised in my mind on that day several times while I was travelling.