Justin Rowlatt and Anita Rani take two very different road trips around India to investigate how the booming car industry has changed the country and the lives of its people.
Browse content similar to Episode 1. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
We're going on an incredible journey.
Driving through one of the most crowded and chaotic countries on Earth.
This is chaos!
Taking two very different cars.
No way! How many headlights?!
On two very different road trips.
What's this?! Does the rubbish come free?
Risking life and limb on some of the most dangerous roads in the world.
Look at this! Oh, my God! Look, he's on the fast lane.
It seems we are properly stuck.
But this journey has a very serious purpose.
India's car industry is booming,
helping power the country's extraordinary economic growth.
But out in India's heartlands, the economic revolution
is leaving hundreds of millions of people behind.
He is telling his land his here.
As India embraces a motoring revolution
we'll be asking whether this vast nation
can really turn itself into a global superpower.
We've been fighting for the last 45 years.
And what impact such a transformation could have
on India's ancient traditions.
And the rest of the world.
Delhi. India's capital.
This is the starting point for our epic journeys.
I'm Anita Rani and I know this city well.
Justin Rowlatt, though, is a first-time visitor,
and I'm taking him to a must-stop for any Indian petrol-head.
So this is car parts bazaar. You see up on the top
of all these buildings, that's where they store all their parts.
-You've got car bonnets, bumpers, exhausts.
-All piled up there?
-Yeah, on the tops of these buildings.
-You name it, that's where they store it.
-Some wonderful old steering wheels there.
If you want to pimp your ride, you come here.
Before we set off,
we need something no new driver in India can live without.
-I love it.
-That's a good horn!
That's so loud!
-Have you got one that goes...
-HE SINGS "DIXIE"
HORN PLAYS "JINGLE BELLS"
-Anita, I've found my horn.
Look at that, that's a monster.
'Negotiations open, and the dealer's quick to take advantage of Justin's enthusiasm.'
-'Fortunately, I'm able to lend a hand.'
That's 80 quid.
I know, it's crazy. SHE SPEAKS IN DIALECT
-SHE SPEAKS IN DIALECT
-Good man. Good deal.
-Justin, do you know how to attach this to your car?
'Navigating the Delhi street traders, though, is just a first taste of what's in store.'
Because Anita and I are going to be attempting to drive
thousands of miles through India, along two very different routes.
I'll be discovering a very modern India,
making my way down to Mumbai, the financial capital,
and then on to Bangalore, Asia's Silicon Valley.
While I'll be hitting the back roads in search of an older,
traditional India -
bumping my way down to the colonial capital of Calcutta,
and into the ancient tribal lands of Orissa.
The plan, if we make it at all,
is to meet up in the mega-port of Chennai in just three weeks' time.
To discover my modern India, I need a very modern Indian car.
This here is the Mahindra Bolero.
Made in India, designed in India, Indians love it,
because everything about this screams Indian middle-class aspiration.
India has one the fastest-growing car industries on Earth.
Factories here produce millions of cars.
Everything from small run-arounds to luxury saloons.
Among the more upmarket options,
the Mahindra Bolero is India's top-selling 4x4.
It's not bad, is it? I've ordered myself one.
Top of the range, in black.
For my traditional journey,
though, I'm on the hunt for the quintessential Indian motor.
The Hindustan Ambassador, or Amby as it's affectionately known,
has been made in India since 1948.
Its solid-steel chassis has protected presidents and prime ministers,
starred in countless movies, and charmed tourists in iconic taxi cabs.
And I reckon I've sniffed out a good one.
This must be it.
Its proud owner surprisingly wants to part with a 14-year-old classic.
Gulsharan Singh. Hello?
-Is this the car?
-Yes, this is my own car.
Solid, isn't it? ..Oh, this is it. This is the accelerator?
Do it again.
Well, it works, but, um...
-What about the air conditioning? Air con.
-Air conditioning is just a fan.
This is... Ho-ho!
Oh, my...! What's this? Does the rubbish come free? Free gift.
Look at that!
We'll have it.
This doesn't bode well, we can't even close it!
A dodgy bonnet, though, could be the least of our worries.
Police CCTV reveals just how dangerous Indian roads really are.
125,000 people are killed here every year.
That's 15 road deaths an hour.
And Justin and I have got thousands of miles to cover.
I'm quite worried about what it will be like
actually having to get on the roads.
I think once I've had a go tomorrow,
I'll probably feel a bit better about it.
But up until that point, a big part of me is genuinely afraid.
I'm even more worried for Justin.
While my gleaming Mahindra rests in its showroom,
a team of mechanics is working flat out just to weld his Amby into one piece.
Oddly, though, he seems full of confidence.
The thing's a tank, it's rock solid, and you want to feel confident
that if you do have a little knock, let's hope it doesn't happen,
but if you do, you'll come out on top.
And to give me a fighting chance of making it across
rural India in one piece,
I've recruited a local guide and co-driver.
You must be Abra. Hi. And the car's out of the garage.
Yeah, at last. They said they did their best.
They did their best?!
-So, is it going to make it all the way down to Chennai?
I'm itching to get going, so shall we go? Let's go!
Back at the hotel,
my co-driver's arriving with my new Mahindra Bolero.
No way! How many headlights?
I don't think I'm going to have any problems driving on the roads in India, somehow.
Hello, Taji! This is Taji, he's going to be my co-driver,
because we are travelling just shy of 2,000 miles.
So, he's going to give me a hand. His English isn't great, but I speak a bit of Punjabi.
Shall we give it a go? Look at the grill!
Two very different cars
about to embark on two very different journeys.
You are joking? You are not serious!
Check out my wheels!
-This is outrageous.
-Isn't it wicked?
-How big is this?
-2.5? Air conditioning, no doubt?
Air conditioning, CD player.
-Electric windows, the works.
-It's a beast.
-I don't want to be rude but this car, Anita, is vulgar.
Come on! This is what it's all about, Justin.
-This is modern India, mate.
-Check my ride!
You see, mine makes up in style...
-No, Justin, it's a hunk of junk.
-She's a solid little engine.
It's a rust bucket.
I have got something for you, a little gift. A little Auntie-ji.
INDIAN ACCENT: Auntie-ji!
To help you as you travel across India.
By Chennai, you'll be doing this as well.
I will after bouncing along those Indian roads!
-Thank you. See you in Chennai.
-See you in Chennai.
-In three weeks.
-See you there.
Here we go!
If all goes to plan, we'll meet again far to the south
on the edge of the Indian Ocean.
The first leg of my journey
is going to take me out through the wide avenues of New Delhi
to the rapidly expanding city of Jaipur, 150 miles away.
I'm going to overtake this three-wheeler. Come on!
HORN TOOTS And that's how you do it, you bop your horn.
Across town, and I'm still trying to get out of Old Delhi.
Abra, this is chaos. No room whatsoever. How do I signal?
SEVERAL HORNS BLAST
You can't just walk in front of cars!
What do you mean, what am I doing? Not in the middle of the road!
I honestly can't believe it.
This is much worse than I thought it would be.
I thought that cars might be a bit aggressive towards us
but not pedestrians, children, people on bicycle rickshaws.
-How do you feel?
-I feel tired.
I've been driving for three minutes. Already I'm exhausted.
-I'm pouring with sweat.
-This is just the beginning.
I'm joining the first stretch of what's modestly called
the Golden Quadrilateral Highway,
a vast new road network linking India's biggest cities.
To make space for the millions and millions of new cars here,
the government is spending £10 billion a year
to build an incredible 15 miles of new road every single day.
It's opening up this country like never before, transforming India.
Here in Gurgaon, right on the outskirts of Delhi,
ancient farmland is being torn up
to answer the urgent call of modernisation.
This road, which is very obviously under construction,
just a few days ago was still farmland.
In fact, all this area around here was fields of wheat, barley and mustard.
At this incredible rate of development,
they say within the next ten years, Gurgaon will have no farmland left whatsoever.
To get out of Delhi and into the country's rural heartlands
I'm passing a powerful symbol of India's new status on the world stage.
India's very first Formula 1 circuit.
Since its tarmac's still wet, I'm not allowed onto the track itself.
But alongside it, I've found the next best thing
to finally get my Amby's pistons pumping.
Look at this. This vast highway is supposed to be closed.
But I just drove up and said, "Would it be OK if we had a go on it?" They said, "Go ahead."
So this is my chance to put this baby through her paces.
MUSIC: "On The Road Again" by Canned Heat
I'm amazed at how much India is expanding,
the amount of construction work that's going on.
Maybe it's because I've been travelling around the roads
but it seems that it's happening everywhere.
Six-lane motorways being cut through farmland!
The Indian roads are... they're just chaos.
You drive along and literally anything can happen.
You've got to be constantly, constantly, constantly alert.
If you stop concentrating for just one moment,
you could easily have a horrific accident.
In fact, I'm amazed that I haven't seen more accidents
because it's just so dangerous.
India boasts an astonishing two million miles of roads,
second only to the USA.
Most are just dirt tracks,
but spanking new tarmac highways like this
mean faster journeys for people and products.
And new roads are bringing new economic opportunities.
As well as the roads being built
come the businesses that need to be on the side of the road for the people travelling.
So you've got everything that you'd expect - cafes, snack shops,
but also shops selling car parts, tyres.
Anything you can think of that you'd need. Phone shops, hotels, temples.
Any time of the day, if you want something, no problem!
India's economy is growing by an impressive 8% a year.
For a country that's been a byword for grinding poverty,
that's little short of an economic miracle.
But rapid growth comes at a cost.
My Amby and I have reached Agra.
It's the number-one stop on India's tourist trail.
People flood here for one very special reason.
The Taj Mahal pulls in three million visitors a year.
But one of the great wonders of the world is facing an uncertain future.
Brij Khandelwal, a local environmental campaigner,
believes air pollution is damaging this remarkable building.
That patch over there doesn't look healthy to me.
It looks sick and tired.
-The colour has changed?
-Yes, and the stress is visible on the stones.
All these patches and marks over here seem to suggest
that there is some effect of pollution or atmospheric changes.
Actually, all the way down here, this looks like staining.
Staining, yes, yes.
How can you say that discolouration is down to pollution?
Someone will have to do a study and prove if it's natural or man-made.
Brij thinks it's the expansion of traffic in Agra
that's responsible for the damage.
In 1985, we had only about 40,000 registered vehicles, when the size of the district was pretty big.
But now the figure has gone beyond 740,000 registered vehicles and the number is going up.
Hold on. That's about 20 times as many in less than 20 years.
Yes. Now everybody has a vehicle in Agra.
The small kids driving, they are all using petrol-based vehicles.
The nitrates and the nitrogen oxide level has gone up.
That will definitely have some effect on the marble.
Disfigure, discolour, or even erode the surface.
There's no definitive agreement as to what's affecting the marble of the Taj,
whether it's pollution, or time, or perhaps a bit of both.
But it seems to me that the emissions
from hundreds of thousands of vehicles certainly can't be helping.
And it's not only India's greatest monument that's under threat.
Across town there are signs that air pollution is affecting
Agra's four million inhabitants as well.
The city's main respiratory hospital
treats patients suffering from diseases like bronchitis and pneumonia.
Dr Gupta, thank you very much indeed for seeing me here.
Dr Devendra Gupta has seen a dramatic leap in the number of people seeking his help.
More than 50% of the population will suffer from respiratory diseases.
-Half the population will have respiratory illness?
It is more common among young ages, boys and girls.
They are subjected more to the dust environment
when they are going to school, coming from school.
The number of vehicles has increased like anything.
What effect does that have on the patients that you see here at the hospital?
They are suffering from more diseases.
-As pollution increases, the number of patients increases.
-It's that simple?
That simple. As it is, as it is.
It's stark evidence of the human cost of India's economic boom.
Over half the world's most polluted cities are now in India.
And cars must take some of the blame.
New cars and new roads are critical
to sustaining the country's expanding economy.
But at what price to India's heritage and its people?
150 miles to the west,
I've reached another of India's historic cities - Jaipur.
This is the India we so often see on the covers of tour guides,
colourful, magical and exotic.
In Jaipur, like much of the rest of India, the local economy is booming.
Tourists are pouring in along those brand-new roads in increasing numbers,
bringing with them billions of pounds' worth of valuable foreign currency.
But that success story is also creating new problems.
Behind me is Jaipur.
Built in the early 18th century,
it's said to be one of India's first planned cities,
but now it's expanded way beyond the original walls.
You can just make out, through the heat haze,
the new urban sprawl which goes as far as the eye can see.
In the last decade, India's population grew by over 180 million.
As rural, predominantly young people flood into the cities
in search of better lives,
the population of places like Jaipur is simply going through the roof.
Entering the old city, the problem is striking.
You can see immediately that they're trying to expand this road
but they're obviously going to have problems
because there's physically no space to do it.
The promise of employment,
with a good living to be made from the tourist trade,
attracts migrants from all over India.
Many new arrivals come in on India's famous network of trains.
But after journeys of hundreds of miles,
some don't get any further than Jaipur's central station.
Beneath a new flyover right beside the station,
there's a world far removed from the tourist trail.
This is home to hundreds of Jaipur's street children.
SHE SPEAKS IN DIALECT
Teenager Selma has spent her whole life here.
THEY SPEAK IN DIALECT
She's asking her mum how old she is.
She's her daughter. She's called Sanya. She's one year old.
THEY SPEAK IN DIALECT
I said, "Was she born in hospital?" She says she was born at home, which means right here.
I said to her, "What's it like here?" She says it's nice.
Charity worker Prabhakar Goswami has been helping support children here since 1993.
How big is the problem at the moment? How many children are we talking about?
There is an estimation only that half a million children
are on the street or pavement or in a slum area.
Half a million children.
How old are these children that come here alone?
At any time, four or five, six.
Four years old?
-Children will come on their own at four years old?
-They've come to find a better life.
But they don't seem to get beyond the train station,
-because we're still literally under the bridge.
The children here survive
by scouring through other people's rubbish.
These water bottles will be washed, refilled and resold.
-What are we looking at, Prabhakar?
-Children are boarding the train from here.
And they will again collect the used bottles,
and then they will bring the bottles here
and they will clean it, recycle it.
Whatever people have discarded, that is an asset to them.
It's an asset.
-They can earn their bread and butter through that.
Do they get injured?
-It's quite dangerous.
Yeah, quite dangerous.
While these kids survive by recycling old bottles from the trains,
nearby, there's another migrant community
who scavenge from the roadside.
These families collect old tyres.
Some are recycled. Others are chopped up and sold as cheap fuel.
But with Prabhakar's help,
their children could be saved from the same fate.
'His charity, I-India,
'arranges daily classes
'for over a thousand street children across the city.
'I'm joining an afternoon music lesson.'
They're about to perform a popular nursery rhyme which is very appropriate for our trip,
because it's about the motor car.
# La la la la la la la!
# Me me me me me La la la la! #
I'm just getting my voice ready.
(TRANSLATES) "My father drives a motor car."
TEACHER CONTINUES SINGING
CHILDREN REPEAT LINE OF SONG
"They put diesel in his car."
TEACHER AND CHILDREN CONTINUE SINGING
"My father pushes his car to get it started."
Many of these children have never been to school before.
A basic education is vital if they're to break the cycle of poverty.
They are getting lessons in Hindi, English, of course,
mathematics and general knowledge, social values, painting.
-So everything that normal children would learn in school?
'As well as an education, these kids get to experience another luxury.'
All right, time to brush your teeth.
'A twice weekly wash.'
These kids' parents can't afford toothpaste. You only have to look at the mum and dad's teeth
to see that they've never seen a toothbrush.
Oh! Shower time!
Whoo! Kiddies, time to get hosed down.
Oh! Shampoo. Shampoo time.
'Travelling across India along its new highways, it's easy to forget
'that many people are locked out of the country's economic miracle.'
Here it comes!
'Projects like this help a few.
'But it hardly touches the other half a million children
'living in abject poverty just in Jaipur alone.'
Day three, and my trusty Amby and I are heading on
from Agra to Varanasi,
a sacred place of pilgrimage for India's majority Hindu population.
And I'm making pretty good progress myself,
speeding out of Jaipur towards Udaipur,
250 miles to the south.
The further I travel,
the more I see evidence of India's growing economic might.
This country boasts vast natural resources and a huge, cheap labour force.
We in the West should be paying attention,
because it's coming our way as Indian ambitions go global.
Ah, Indian Oil.
Now, this is something that I'm seeing a lot of,
which you wouldn't have seen 10 or 15 years ago -
Indian petrol stations.
It was only this year that an Indian oil company,
Essar, bought a Shell refinery in Cheshire - that's right -
which supplies 15% of all UK fuel.
Which means we may be seeing a lot more
of these Indian petrol stations in the UK.
# Oh, keep your eyes on the road
# Your hand upon the wheel
# Keep your eyes on the road
# Your hand upon the wheel... #
'Indian petrol stations may be about to spread across the globe,
'but I'm not so sure
'Britain is quite ready for Indian service stations.'
-Can I try some of this stuff, whatever that is?
-This is called pakoras.
-Mmm! That's nice.
-Freshly made, yeah.
-It's what you eat with tea instead of biscuits.
You won't see any biscuits here.
Don't know about that! Right...
Chai, that's tea stewed with milk and sugar.
It's a nice drink.
Oh, it's piping hot.
-You just smash them?
Health and safety?
Looks like he's had an accident,
picked himself up and started driving again.
-What, what happened? Bunty, what happened?
-What, jumped up and hit the car? I can't help but laugh.
This is a peacock-related accident? You've got to laugh.
This is the crew car that follows my car. And we laugh, but actually,
this could be very dangerous.
It certainly was for the peacock!
# Keep your eyes on the road
# Your hand upon the wheel... #
With night falling fast,
we set off to find a mechanic who can fix the crew car.
As for me, after 14 hours on the road,
I'm pulling over for the night.
It's been a long, arduous, hot, tiring day,
and I am so exhausted today, I can't even be bothered to have any dinner.
I'm going to go straight to bed.
# Let it roll, baby, roll
# Let it roll
# All night long... #
Meanwhile, I'm still making up lost time.
But when I eventually stop at a local hotel,
it seems that the evening is only just beginning.
Look at this, Abra. Night's fallen, and we had to pull off the road,
and this was the only place we could find to stay.
And look at this. There's an Indian wedding in full swing.
I'm going to see if I can gatecrash it.
'Even here, it seems the car has pride of place.
'The groom has turned up in a decorated Honda.'
Check it out, look at this! Roses. Beautifully decked out.
-So this is a symbol of status, really.
'It seems we've suddenly fallen into the midst of Indian high society.'
LOUD MUSIC PLAYS
And it's a brave man who'd dare tell this lot to turn the noise down.
'I might be tired, but after nearly a week on the road,
'the wedding disco's a welcome chance to give my legs a bit of a stretch.'
Throughout its long history,
India has been a land of sharp social divides -
the fabulously rich...
and the masses of astonishingly poor.
As I drive through India today,
I'm wondering how much its society might be changing,
as a new, aspirational, car-owning generation begins to assert itself.
It's day six, and I've reached Udaipur,
built by an ancient royal family who are still holding on
to the traditions of the past. I'm on my way to meet
the 76th Maharana of Udaipur, Sriji Aravind Singh,
who is part of the longest-running dynasty on the planet.
They can chart their history back to the 8th century AD.
The Maharana's great-grandfather brought the very first cars
to Udaipur almost a century ago.
-Hello, I've come to interview the Maharana.
Thank you very much.
They're obviously expecting us.
For a car lover like me, a chance to see the Maharana's priceless vintage car collection
is an absolute must.
Today, he's promised to show me one of his favourites.
-Hello, your Highness.
-Pleased to meet you. Anita.
-Lovely to see you. How do you do?
I'm very well, thank you. This is magnificent.
-Not bad, is it?
-Not bad at all.
-Only one careful owner.
-One careful owner.
This has been with us for 70-odd years now.
'This Rolls-Royce 20 horsepower convertible was made in 1924
'and imported to India by the 73rd Maharana.'
he liked convertibles because he was very keen on hunting,
and this was the sort of car which would suit him very well.
Don't tell me he'd go hunting in this?
-All the time.
-All the time?
-All the time!
What was the reaction
on the streets of Udaipur when this came out on the roads?
-The Maharana is out,
-going hunting in his Rolls-Royce.
-Well, or wherever.
This is India.
This is India. This is absolutely India. Can we sit in it?
'During the Raj, it was only the very rich,
'the Maharanas and the British aristocracy,
'who could afford such a luxurious mode of travel.'
Where's the horn,
-the most important bit? Is this it?
-In the centre, yeah.
A typical Rolls-Royce original horn.
That's the horn I want in my Mahindra Bolero.
-You can get them, you can get them now.
-One more time.
'I had been promised a chauffeur-driven tour
'of the palace grounds, but this being India,
'the Maharana's driver broke his leg in a road accident on the way here.
'So I've persuaded the Maharana to let me take the wheel instead.'
I'm going to take the Maharana, the 76th Maharana of Udaipur,
for a ride in his 1920s Rolls-Royce.
I hope I don't stall it!
-Are we in first?
-You're not in first.
You have to press the accelerator.
It's in reverse.
-I don't want to go backwards again.
-It's all right.
-That's not the accelerator.
-I know... Here we go.
Oh, my goodness me,
there's no power steering on this thing.
I can't actually reach the gear. There we go.
The Maharana's palace feels like a preserved relic of a bygone age.
And the Maharana has a particularly aristocratic take
on changing Indian society.
Today, it's the industrial houses and the industrialists
and people in business and trade,
and professionals like doctors and IT and all that,
they can all afford to buy cars.
They can afford to buy more expensive cars than I can.
Do you think this ability for more people to buy cars
affects the traditional class divides?
The class divide has been always there and will always remain there.
There's nothing you can do about it.
It's a human tendency, it's a human weakness, it's the story of mankind.
The Maharanas once ruled from this palace
over their city and far beyond.
But these days, the world's oldest royal family
is making compromises with the changing society.
Today, if you've got the money, whatever class you are,
you can stay in the Maharana's palace,
part of which is now run as an upmarket hotel.
It's quite a change from the distant days of the Raj.
What with peacocks and wedding parties,
I've been hammering the Ambassador
just to cover the 300 miles from Agra to Varanasi.
# I'm a road-runner, honey
# And you can't keep up with me... #
It's about 2.30 in the afternoon,
and we're on schedule for once,
on our way into...
HE BEEPS CAR HORN
..on our way into Varanasi.
Oh, dear, Indian...Indian roads!
Varanasi is a place of pilgrimage for the world's Hindus.
And even in this ancient city, the transport revolution
is enabling ever more people to flood in,
with surprising consequences.
Whoa, look at this chaos.
For thousands of years,
pilgrims and visitors have come here
to cleanse their souls
in the sacred river that runs through Varanasi, the Ganges.
Local priest Silesh shows me how it's done.
So we're very discreetly...
-maintaining our modesty at all times.
'Although I'm not a Hindu, Silesh has promised that this will rid me
'of my sins.'
Oh, there we go, steps.
So we put two fingers here. Nose here. And then go down.
One, two, three.
I'll tell you why I'm slightly hesitant to do that.
I read in a book a couple of days ago
that the amount of faecal matter in the water is 1.5 million times
the allowable level for Indian drinking water,
so this water is really not that clean!
-No need to be worried about it. It is not that poisonous!
So this is the last time we are doing it.
But not all the visitors to Varanasi
are seeking absolution before returning home.
Some are very much on a one-way ticket.
For a Hindu, there is no better place to be cremated than Varanasi.
They believe being cremated here breaks the cycle of reincarnation,
allowing the soul to ascend straight to heaven.
For centuries, it's been a privilege only enjoyed by locals.
But now mourners are travelling increasing distances to Varanasi,
transporting their rather unusual cargoes.
So as cars become more common in India, how has that changed
the amount of cremations that happen here at Varanasi?
Before, it was possible to bring the body by walking, or by any kind of horse cart
or bullock cart.
But now, with the introduction of cars and other vehicles,
it's become very easy.
So a lot more people are coming to do the cremations.
-And they come from much further?
-Yeah, that's true.
'This family has driven five hours to bring their father, Rahdi Sham, from the rural countryside.'
'This, they trust, will guarantee him an auspicious passage to heaven.'
This is extraordinary. This is the first time I've seen a dead body.
It makes me realise that in Britain we are so distanced from death.
You know, to be honest, I find it surprisingly affecting.
It makes you that... realise how real death is.
'Mr Sham's body is dipped in the Ganges three times.'
'His relatives then lovingly lay him on a newly built funeral pyre,
'one of an estimated 250 cremations that take place here every single day.'
So why don't you find this upsetting or disturbing, all this death that you see here?
Because death is the universal truth. Why will you be upset about it?
If you are accepting your life, like anything, why will you get disturbed with death?
Because I'm terrified - I don't want to die!
That is the power of our Hindu philosophy and religion,
that gives us a power to accept the death like you accept your life.
'To a westerner, Varanasi is a strange place.
'The way modernisation, in the shape the car,
'is seamlessly combined into India's most ancient traditions,
'says something about the strength of the old here, as well as the new.'
Day nine of my journey, and I'm closing in on my next stop,
Ahmedabad, a mere 300 miles away.
It might be 45 degrees outside, but in my air-conditioned Bolero, life is sweet.
# Take it easy Take it... #
CAR HORN All right.
Some other road users, however, have a rather more direct cooling system.
OK, there's a vehicle in front of me on the left, packed full of people.
So full, that they've got the back door open
and a guy just hanging out on a motorway, as you do.
HE SPEAKS IN PUNJABI
Yeah! Don't wave at him!
Taji seems to be a man of few words, but occasionally he'll come out with a little gem.
After ten hours on the road, I've made it to Ahmedabad,
home to a vehicle that's intended to revolutionise the car industry.
Meet the Nano, the cheapest car on the planet.
It's made by Tata, a giant Indian conglomerate
that owns steel plants, telecoms,
and even Britain's luxury car brands Jaguar and Land Rover.
The Nano is at the other end of the scale.
It costs just £1,500 on the road.
Just one wing mirror, a single windscreen wiper
and its tiny 12-inch wheels have only three wheel nuts -
all to slash costs.
According to Tata executive Debasis Ray,
the concept of the Nano was dreamt up by company boss Ratan Tata.
He saw a typical Indian family, parents and two children, on a two-wheeler.
It was raining, and the family skidded.
And it struck him that why can someone not offer
an affordable car for a family which cannot afford a car?
-That's where the Nano was born.
This factory already churns out 500 Nanos every day,
and by 2012, daily output is set to double.
It's all part of a nationwide trend.
India now produces more cars even than the USA.
-So who's buying it - the man on the motorbike and his family?
-I've seen a lot of those.
-Yes, they are buying, and India is prospering.
A car is a symbol of prosperity.
'Although the Nano is now selling well, people have questioned
'whether this tiny car really has what it takes to survive India's rather basic roads.'
Here you go.
OK. So this is the vibration bed, where they test the...
Oh, here it goes.
It's quite good fun.
And it's speeded it up for those extra-potholed Indian roads.
Superb - it's just like being out there on the highway.
I'd like one of these at home.
I might just get my wish. Tata has global ambitions.
By 2013, they'll be exporting these cut-priced cars to Europe.
'So what can the Nano's mighty 624cc engine really do?'
Oh! I thought I was going to topple over!
This is good fun.
I don't know how safe I'd feel if I was on a highway with those massive trucks coming past me.
But it's definitely good fun.
0 to 60 in about 25 seconds.
Yeah, 60. We're pushing towards 70.
We haven't tried the most important thing - hang on a minute.
I've finally left the congestion of India's chaotic cities behind.
And out here in the countryside, there's hardly a car on the road.
Well, we're out in the sticks now, out in rural India,
and the roads are a lot clearer, there's much less traffic,
but the roads are also a lot more bumpy.
And we're here to meet some of the poorest people, not just in India,
but in the whole world, some of the poorest people on Earth.
Despite the enormity of the cities, India is still predominantly a rural country.
About 600 million Indians, half the population, live off the land,
often as subsistence farmers.
'And one family has invited me to stay.'
Raj Kumar, I'm Justin from the BBC.
Very nice to meet you. Thank you for having me on your farm.
'Everything this family eat is grown on the land around them.
'It has to support 22 people.'
So what have you got here, what plants?
-Ah! Lady's fingers. This is bhindi?
It's enormous. That's a huge lady's finger.
That smells good.
HE SPEAKS NATIVE TONGUE
-You can eat it, he is saying.
Mm. That's really nice. It's sweet.
Raj, how much land have you got?
So from the road there...
Have you ever measured? How big is the field that you have?
A third of an acre. That is tough, isn't it?
And is that enough to feed the whole family?
-It's not enough.
'The Kumars supplement their meagre income by making pottery.'
-What are you doing, Raj?
-Ah, these little cups! This is the chai cup, for chai.
'The family produces 400 teacups a day.
'They sell for about a penny each.'
So effortless. It appears like magic.
So, Raj, can I have a go? You knew this was going to happen, didn't you?
Can I have a go doing the pottery?
I'm on a hiding to nothing here. Oh, hold on...
Oh, so close. But it's getting better.
So you go like this...
Oh, man! It's really hard!
Don't show off to me, Raj!
That's all right! There you go.
'There are hundreds of millions of subsistence farmers in India.
'Most don't have electricity or running water.
'So what does this family make of India's car bonanza?'
Do you imagine any of your three daughters would ever own a car, drive a car?
'The conditions here show just how far India still has to go.'
They're collecting cowpats, which they dry and then burn on the fire.
-You just pick it up?
'Tonight, we'll be having fresh aubergine and potatoes
'with a unique smoky flavour.'
Very, very good. It really is very good.
It may have been cooked on a cowpat fire, but it's delicious.
Fresh cumin, garlic in there, chillies.
I sound like Jamie Oliver, don't I, but it really is pukka! It really is very good.
'Having made it this far on my epic journey,
'I decide it's time to see how Anita's bearing up on hers.'
-Hey, Anita, how are you doing?
-I'm very well, thank you. Where are you?
We're in the depths of rural India,
and I'm sitting next to a dried cowpat fire.
Shall I draw a little compare and contrast?
I have my feet in the pool and a Martini by my side,
and it's beautiful.
How are you finding it?
'Next time, though, things start to get tougher...'
I'm in the fast lane of a motorway.
'..as I get to grips with the traffic in high-tech Bangalore...'
-I'm in training, I'm in training!
-Come back! Anita!
'..and take a lesson from one of India's top rally drivers.'
I'm falling out of my chair!
'While I'll be travelling into ever more remote regions...'
Oh, man! '..seeking out signs of global warming
'and meeting ancient tribes, threatened by industrial expansion...
'..before coaxing my Amby towards my date with Anita
'on the shores of the Indian Ocean.'
The fuel gauge says it's full, but we have been driving for about two and a half hours
and we've just run out of fuel.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Justin Rowlatt and Anita Rani embark on an epic road trip around India, navigating chaotic cities and rural bywaters to discover how a booming car industry is helping to fuel the country's massive economic growth. Setting off from Delhi in opposite directions, they have three weeks to reach Chennai in the south, where they will meet up at the centre of India's car industry, dubbed the Detroit of Asia.
For her trip Anita is driving a spanking new Indian made 4x4 across some of the country's thousands of miles of new motorways to discover a modern India unrecognisable from 20 years ago. Justin is heading east in a very different vehicle - a clapped out Hindustan Ambassador, the iconic symbol of an older India. On the way he investigates the darker side of this economic revolution - how pollution is choking the cities and how hundreds of millions of people are still locked in poverty, seeming cut off from the huge wealth being generated.
Two journeys full of colour and chaos, glamour and grime, illustrating what some people think is the birth of a new super power.