Why ReRooting must be the buzzword for 2024

Shivaji Dasgupta
New Update
ReRooting Immigrants Indians Abroad

Representative image

Kolkata: ReRooting is genetically different from its phonetic twin rerouting. The latter is about changing course while the former has to do with renewing connections. In a meaningful and lovable fashion.


More than ever before, too many of us are detached from our roots. Usually due to compulsions of curating a living and occasionally to give vent to our inner explorers. Normally, it is a good thing as we get closer to fulfilling our true potential. But in recent times, the need to rewind is emerging as a valuable necessity. In tandem, though, with an untampered growth path.

Roots always meant all of the following. The sheer physicality of home, presence of people who matter, proximity to pop culture, pursuit of the native tongue, persistence of culinary habits and a continuing sense of community. As the global world order evolved and covid left its candid mark, the meaning assumed far wider dimensions. As the value of where we come from can play a stellar role in where we are today.

The boom of the industrial age in the 20th century led to great waves in immigration, both within nations and beyond borders. Factories needed both brains and brawn, which still remains the basis for mobility. If Gujarat is leading the wave in industrial acumen, all of India will line up for jobs. When Germany feels the need for STEM intervention, visa regulations get simplified. Nurses are in short supply globally and those who wish to earn and know to care are in much demand.


To this, add one more underrated aspect. Immigrant families are now reaching the third or fourth generation of exile and the emotional distance to origins is being continuously enhanced. Therefore, the Indians in New Jersey or the Malayali in Gurgaon face a common crisis - their children will routinely become a merged entity sans the flavours of genes or identity. What earlier was influenced by geography is now strangely immune to geography. Due to the all-pervading internet and a passion for cultural homogeneity, the youth of the day are often displaced emotionally even while being entrenched physically. A pattern that is amplified by the rampant influence of global consumption brands, whether Netflix or Domino’s Pizza.

Seemingly a guest appearance in the passage of time, COVID-19 turned out to be a multifaceted impresario, an operational version of Nostradamus. While mortality was rampant, the bridge to roots was dramatically enhanced. By the sheer physical unification of families, grandparents now play a decisive role in home management. Not quite joint, nor conjoint, families now once again became legacy cum futuristic zones, everybody coming to the party with the interests of children in mind. 

2024 promises to be more challenging in many ways. Climate change is now a nagging reality, the threat of a pandemic is never too far from our timelines, the gig economy will continue to traumatise conventional notions of stability, human displacement due to professional purposes will accelerate and technology will continue to play a conflicting double role. As an agent of progress (JAM Trinity) as well as a catalyst for unforeseen turmoil, exemplified by Generative AI. Folks all over will need to be agile and dynamic, as they adapt to new-age challenges. Exactly the reason why the renewed connection to the roots that matter will become crucial ammunition.


At the present time, ReRooting is practised in an anecdotal fashion, with more symbolism than actual immersion. Bengalis living in Mumbai will ensure that their children visit the Durga Pujas or go to their home city for biryani and egg rolls once a year. Indians living anywhere in the world will celebrate their regional New Year with due aplomb and catch cinematic releases of the latest Rajnikanth or Bhaijaan releases.

However detached in spirit and body, everybody wears traditional clothes during Diwali or Eid, as fashionable solidarity. Weddings become a hub for cultural rapprochement, as the many spokes of extended family unify. The greatest challenges lie in cuisine and language, genuinely difficult to pursue in alien environments and even when home, in multi-exposure cultures.

What is needed now is a socio-cultural immersion which can be a continuing asset, not just a sporadic indulgence. Brought to life amply by a thoughtful mix of innovation and technology, as both physical and virtual experiences. The first step is to identify the values of the roots, personalised across communities. For most, it will be derived from language, literature, food, festivals, interpersonal relations and bonding through life and death. For others, it can be a pure emotion that cannot be explained in words but simply felt as a springboard for happiness. Perhaps the following can be some key components of ReRooting.


Taking full advantage of hybrid work cultures, spending substantial physical time in the place of origin, whether within the country or outside. Enjoying live moments with friends and relatives routinely, in the body or taking fullest advantage of video calls. Revisiting places of childhood fondness, whether Puri or Shimla, with the fresh lens of extraneous achievement. Rightsizing the context of such experiences, by staying in local guest houses, eating in traditional places and travelling in trains and not planes. Consciously soliciting the validity of rooted experiences, not photocopied global prototypes.

Capsules of music and culture can smoothly be resized for easy consumption. Classic Sitar recitals in three minutes like the 78 RPM record days, dance compositions in tight formats and language translations of content, written or enacted, in truthful emotion. Ceremonial nuances are explained in digestible AV contexts, including the time honoured rituals of passing. Food is presented in attractive packages and it is not impossible to imagine Indian flavours in sushi minuteness. As the metaverse gets closer to its truest potential, an ethnic avatar from a ReRooting agenda is to be in touch with the hereditary self.

The secret sauce of ReRooting, in the suggested form, is a culture of constant conversations, physically or otherwise. Conversations which may come to life in music or food, that is indeed a detailing in delivery. Thus, not an imposition in time or flow but blending seamlessly. A fine example is how the Durga Pujas are held over the closest weekend in the USA, not affecting work life on weekdays. Or how a daily exercise routine in Central Park, New York, can be garnished by Vedic chants or sitar via the headphones.


ReRooting will surely strengthen our emotional foundation, thus adding to our mental wealth. It will help us look beyond just professional or personal achievements as a purpose for living.

The power of a like-minded universe, bigger than we ever imagined, will help us to bond and heal. When we need support, the conversations in any format will be able to lend a potent nurturing hand. Just as comfort food is therapeutic, this will be a universal comfort zone, which can only get larger if we so wish.

Quite naturally, brands and businesses must come to the party, in the spirit of meaningful profitability. Whether technology, travel, food, work or culture. ReRooting has the potential to be an emissary of peace and happiness, as long as we reach out sincerely. The time is indeed now.