GUWAHATI, Dec 2 – It is an attempt at analysing the factors that make the tea garden workers of the State feeling deprived and alienated. Gita Rani Bhattacharya, State Programme Director of the Assam Mahila Samata Society told this correspondent that this phenomenon among the tea garden workers may be attributed to their non-exposure to the democratic process, prevalence of alcoholism and the condition under which they are made to live.
Besides the lack of proper institutional education, majority of this section of the State’s people is left in the wilderness when it comes to train them up in the democratic process of raising the issues concerning them and thus to get the issues amicably redressed through negotiations.
No doubt, the leaders of their organisations are well trained in taking up such issues in the right fora. But, at the grass-root level, the need to train up the masses of the workers is not at all recognized by the leaders, the tea estate owners and the administrative authorities as well.
Prevalence of alcoholism and the condition in which they are made to live make them highly emotive. A suppressed anger always keeps on agitating them from inside, said Bhattacharaya, who has been working with the tea garden workers for quite a long time.
This is why, whenever their emotions are stirred by something, they become highly agitated and their fury knows no limit under such a situation. In such moments, they become so violent and self-forgetting that they can then do anything which can only be described as horrible, said the Mahila Samata Society Programme Director basing on the literatures available on the subject.
Describing the condition in which the average tea garden workers are subjected to live, Bhattacharya said these people are not provided with proper sanitation, they have not been made aware of the issues related to health and hygiene.
The practice, prevalent since the colonial era, of drawing a demarcation line between the residential areas of the workers and the ‘Babus’ may also contribute to the alienation of the workers from the tea executives and other office staff in their respective gardens, she said.
Experiences of the Assam Mahila Samata Society members working among these people, particularly among their womenfolk, however, highlights the fact that these people are highly positive towards bringing about changes, if they are treated equally and provided an open forum to express their feelings. They also come forward in a positive manner to avail their rights and also to ventilate their feelings in a democratic manner under such situations, said Bhattacharya.