Transformation, Empowerment and Agency: The T.E.A Story of Assam
Updated: Feb 12, 2019
The spatial identity of the State of Assam comes from its lush greens, its breathtaking landscapes, its simplicity and of course, the magnificently serrated tea gardens.
But the turmoil and struggles of the community who make possible the creation of an identity, are often times swept under the carpets. For it was found in a comprehensive study by the North Eastern Social Research Centre based in Guwahati in 2004, that across 172 tea gardens in Assam, there existed numerous violations of the existing acts that were meant to serve the tea-garden workers and its communities, including inadequate or completely non-existent provisions for drinking water, crèches, schools, health facilities, sanitation for women workers (who form the majority of tea industry labour) and shelter.However, this has recently been upturned.
Since 2016, under the current administration of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, there have been a number of reform programmes that have actually seen the light of the day, and have been thoroughly implemented.
Innovation in policy making, and a vision to not just formulate empowering agendas, but also deliver agency to those who lack it the most has been a perennial gesture of the government. Be it in terms of political consciousness or inclusion in local governance. Now, the landless indigenous people have land pattas, there are crèches, and around 100 high schools.
Financial assistances of Rs. 12,000 each to around 47,000 pregnant tea garden workers each year. Education department has also determined to expeditiously transfer Rs. 600 each to girl students aged 12 to 20 years for procurement of sanitary napkins.
Hailing the people belonging to tea community as one of the most resourceful people of the State, Sonowal said that it is because of the dedication of the tea community that Assam Tea could engrave its name in the global map and rightly so. The situation and conditions of tea plantation workers have improved a lot, but there is still a lot to be done, and initiatives and policy planning lie at the heart of this.