Capital-Labour Conflict:A Case of Assam’s Tea Industry
Assam is located in the North-East of India surrounded by seven states viz. West Bengal, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura. It also shares its boundaries with two countries viz. Bangladesh and Bhutan. Tea industry plays a very vital role in Assam as far as state economy is concerned. It produces more than 50 percent of the total tea produced in the country. Both management and workers have significant role in the development of the industry; unfortunately, no association or branch exists to monitor the welfare of workers and functions of management at the state government level. However, the Chief Minister of Assam, Mr. Tarun Gogoi, recently pronounced a new unit solely to look after the welfare measures and development of tea workers.
The economy of Assam continues to be primarily agrarian and the agricultural sector is providing employment to more than 50 percent of the rural population. This sector contributes 25 percent to the State Domestic Product (2010-11).
Tea is considered to be one of the main agricultural produces in the state and is reputed all over the world for its aromatic quality. The climate of Assam favours the produce of sweet and tangy tea in the region. The world's largest CTC (cut, torn and curl) tea auction centre is in Assam, which is also the world's second largest in terms of total tea. Assam mainly exports its tea to Europe and the Middle Eastern countries and also to Pakistan, Egypt, Japan and Israel. Tea is grown both in the Brahmaputra as well as the Barak plains in Assam. Tea gardens are mostly found in Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Sibsagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Darrang and Sonitpur districts of Assam. About 17% of the workers of Assam are engaged in the tea industry. Though Assam plantation generally produces black tea, the region also produces smaller quantities of green and white teas. There are more than 850 tea estates and more than 2500 tea gardens in Assam that span thousands of acres of land.
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