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Charlotte Klinting

on 20 November 2014

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Transcript of Tea

labourers in assam and the cultural importance of tea
The coolie solution
Cultural tea
Assam today
tea and culture
Coolie Labour laws
colonial legacy in modern day Assam
The arrival of Tea
The Elite and Tea
The exclusion of the lower class and tea
National identity
Luxury to necessity
“Singpho country cannot be available (for tea), unless we import men to make the Singphos more industrious. These men will not work for any long as they have sufficient opium and rice" - Robert Bruce, 1837
Intervention in the coolie system
Venus her Myrtle, Phoebus has his bays;
Tea both excels, which she vouchsafes to praise.
The best of Queens, the best of herbs, we owe
To that bold nation which the way did show
To the fair region where the sun doth rise,
Whose rich productions we so justly prize.
The Muse's friend, tea does our fancy aid,
Regress those vapours which the head invade,
And keep the palace of the soul serene,
Fit on her birthday to salute the Queen.
- Edmund Waller, 1663
"By the 1820s the consumption of English industrial workers consisted above all (and in some cases only) of bread and tea"

- Sir Frederick Eden in"The State of the Poor"
The need for coolies:
"The perfect compromise between slavery and free labour"
C J Lyall, Secretary to the Chief Commissioner of Assam to the Secretary to the Government of India, 1880:

"Tea interests in Assam require the protection of a penal labour law (...)"
"The cost of importing is excessive, more in fact than a whole year’s wages, and the strike or desertion of a large number of labourers at the busy season would, in the case of many gardens, mean not a temporary inconvenience merely, but the absolute ruin of the planter"

Thank you
for your attention!
Bengal Native Labour Act 1863
Intervention in the infrastructure due to high mortality and conditions
Introducing contracts to maintain stability
& giving powers to the planter
Indispensable contracts & penal sanctions
Bhavjeet, Milana & Charlotte
Modern Day Assam
Child labour
Systematically ignoring demands of the worker
Plantations Labour Act 1951
"This will be a lesson for the oppressors who treat us like dogs"
Legacy of colonial days - cherished and nourished in the gardens
Management refuse to provide elementary civic and health services
Families live below poverty line
"Assam is emerging as one of the biggest source area, transit route and destination for trafficking of children for forced labour"
- Global March against Child Labour

Journal Articles:
Julie E. Fromer, ‘“Deeply indebted to the tea-plant”: Representations of English national identity in Victorian histories of tea.’ (2008), CUP 36, 531.
A.R.T. Kemasang, “Tea-Midwife and Nurse to Capitalism,” (2009), Race & Class 51/1 69.
Jayeeta Sharma, ‘Making Garden, Erasing Jungle: The Tea Enterprise in Colonial Assam’ in Deepak Kumar, Vinita Damodaran, and Rohan D’Souza, Environmental Encounters in South Asia (2011) 119
Jayeeta Sharma, ‘Lazy Natives, Coolie Labour, and the Assam Tea Industry’ (2009) MAS 1287
Jogendra Das, ‘Assam: The Post-Colonial Political Developments’ (2005) IPSA 873
Rana Behal, ‘Coolie Drivers Or Benevolent Paternalists? British Tea Planters in Assam and the Indenture Labour System’ (2010) MAS 29
Udayon Misra, ‘Assam Tea: The Bitter Brew’ (2003) EPW 3029

Appadurai A (ed), The social life of things: Commodities in cultural perspective (CUP, 1988).
Chatterjee P, A Time for Tea: Women, Labor, and Post/Colonial Politics on an Indian Plantation (Duke University Press Books 2001).
Forrest D, Tea for the British: The Social and Economic History of a Famous Trade (Chatto & Windus, 1973).
Fromer J, A Necessary Luxury: Tea in Victorian England (Ohio University Press Books, 2008).
Marx K, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy Volume 1 (Frederick Engels (ed) Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling (trs), first published 1867, Lawrence & Wishart Ltd, 1983).

UK Tea & Infusions Association, <http://www.tea.co.uk/> accessed 5th November 2014.
ITO EN, <http://www.itoen.com/cultural-tea-traditions > accessed 5th November 2014.
Teasmade, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teasmade> accessed 5th November 2014.
<http://www.stamp-act-history.com/category/timeline/> accessed 5th November 2014.
<http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtr05.htm> accessed 13th November 2014.
Manimugdha Sharma, ‘Labour Unrest a Simmering Problem in Assam’s Tea Gardens’ The Times of India (4 January 2013) < http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Labour-unrest-a-simmering-problem-in-Assams-tea-gardens/articleshow/17879989.cms? accessed 12 November 2014
Shilpa Kannan, ‘Child Labour: India’s Hidden Shame’ BBC News (Delhi, 5 February 2014) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25947984 accessed 11 November 2014
Sutapa Deb, ‘India Matters: The Despair and Hope of Assam Tea Garden Workers this Election’ NDTV (30 March 2014) < http://www.ndtv.com/elections/article/election-2014/india-matters-the-despair-and-hope-of-assam-tea-garden-workers-this-election-502189> accessed 12 November 2014
Full transcript