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Tea workers of Assam not only get paid less compared to the workers of other tea-growing states in India -- Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka -- but also get less than one-fourth of the 'living wage of Rs 884, a study, involving IIT-Bombay, revealed. The study by Oxfam India, a confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations headquartered in Kenya's capital Nairobi, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, revealed that there exists a growing incidence of contractualisation in the tea plantation sector in Assam.
"Only 39 percent of workers can be considered as permanent workers, while the remaining 61 percent are temporary workers when social security and other mandated provisions under the Plantation Labour Act (PLA) are taken into consideration," said the study. It said that Assam tea plantation workers' daily wage is the lowest concerning daily wages of tea plantations in Kerala (Rs 403), Tamil Nadu (Rs 333), and Karnataka (Rs 349).
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An upward revision has been long due. In February, Assam tea plantation workers' wages were increased by Rs 50 but the High Court stayed the order citing discrepancies in the administrative process and notifications. After the March-April assembly polls, the state government gave an order to hike the daily wage of around 10 lakh tea plantation workers by Rs 38. With this hike, the tea workers in Brahmaputra Valley, mostly in eastern Assam, would get Rs 205 from the previous Rs 167, and those in Barak Valley (southern Assam) would get Rs 183 from the earlier Rs 145.
The study titled "In Defense of Living Wages for Tea Plantation Workers: Evidence from Assam" -- was jointly done by Oxfam India and Rahul Suresh Sapkal, Assistant Professor, Centre for Policy Studies, IIT Bombay. The study was conducted with 5,000 tea plantation workers spread across the seven eastern Assam districts -- Biswanath, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Lakhimpur, Tezpur, Golaghat, and Sivasagar -- from October to December 2020.
According to the estimates of this study, for workers to have a dignified life, the compensation should include Rs 285 per day as expenditure on food items (considering four members in the family) and Rs 599 per day as expenditure on non-food items, both essential and non-essential utilities.
"Therefore, the living wage for a worker should be Rs 884 per day for a decent living in the tea plantation sector. "The proposed living wage is 81 percent higher than the actual wages workers receive and 54 percent higher than the National Minimum Wage suggested by the Anup Satpathy Committee (2019) which is Rs 342 for Assam," the study said. It said that before the Covid-19 crisis, only seven percent of women workers reported access to maternity leave and a mere two percent were able to access the facility for children's education offered by their employers.
The study considers the 'living wage' about the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) concept of 'decent work' and 'quality of life. A 'living wage' is beyond mere survival and should enable meaningful participation in society which includes supporting a family, recreation, and saving against future risks. "It considers the well-being of the workers and is a wage that enables a worker to afford a 'decent standard of living for herself and her family. In the Indian context, the concept of Living Wages is enshrined in the Supreme Court's landmark judgment in 1991," the study said.
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It said that during the nationwide lockdown last year, only 10 percent (of the 5,000 workers) of the respondents have worked, as the only tasks performed in that period were fumigation and sewage draining. "The remaining workers were unemployed for the entire duration of the lockdown. Women were more severely impacted by the lockdown and were not able to work for 45 days on an average, while for men the duration was 33 days." Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India, said: "The study is the voice of tea workers and we believe that the findings will make all stakeholders in the tea sector work for their welfare."
"The study finds a stark gap between the current wages that tea workers receive vis a vis the living wages that has been calculated. We appeal to the government and tea industry to consider an upward revision of the wages to improve the lives of the tea workers." Assam, which produces roughly 55 percent of India's tea, has more than 10 lakh tea workers in the organized sector, working in about 850 big estates. Besides, there are lakhs of small tea gardens owned by individuals. The tea belts of Brahmaputra and Barak valleys are home to more than 60 lakh people. (IANS/JC)
The city of Delhi has seen it all; from sultanate rule, to dynasties, and to colonial rule. From monarchy to democracy, Delhi has gone through its phases. But, in order to know and explore the nuances of Delhi, you must read these beautiful books.
1. City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple
This book was written while Dalrymple was still flirting with his love for the Medieval India. The author writes, "Moreover the city- so I soon discovered- possessed a bottomless seam of stories: tales receding far beyond history, deep into the cavernous chambers of myth and legend," and just like this, Dalrymple takes you in a tour to discover Discover Delhi.
2. Delhi by Heart: Impressions of a Pakistani Traveller by Raza Rumi
This book explores how the author explores his identity as a South Asian Muslim and how his city of Lahore is a mirror image of Delhi. Rumi, in this book, tries to co-relate the past with the present by comparing its festivals, streets, and markets.
3. Delirious Delhi: Inside India's Incredible Capital by DavePrager
This book is quite interesting. The story of this book revolves around the lives of Dave and Jenny who have recently moved to Delhi when their firm began to go down. The city of Delhi in this book is shown through their eyes as they try to make their way in the city that holds together a very large population.
4. The Heart has its Reasons by Krishna Sobti, Translated by Reema Anand, Meenakshi Swami
The original title of this book is "Dil - o - Danish". This book tells the reader about the streets of Old Delhi and almost transport the reader back in the past. This book is basically set in the 1920's, and tells the tale of a man's extramarital affair, his children out of wedlock, black magic, and Chandni Chowk's rich culture of sweets and the perils of being a widow. Interestingly, many have compared the author of this book to Jane Austen.
5. Delhi: A Novel by Khushwant Singh
Who would talk about Delhi and not remember Khushwant Singh? This amazing book is just like a narrative of the author's fulfilled love affair with the city and with a eunuch. The narrator in this book is an aging man who is trying to discover the city. This book is truly a masterpiece, where it takes the readers on the history of Delhi glimpsing at what makes the city what it is– simply beautiful.
There are some of the Indian cities which are older than time. Therefore, we must know which cities are they, and what has been their history!
1. Varanasi (1200 BC–)
Varanasi is one of the oldest cities of India, and has been a center of religious and cultural activity since the Bronze Age. In fact, this city might have been in existence from a very long time, since it finds mention in the Rig Veda. It is believed that the city of Varanasi was thriving for more than 1600 years before the fall of the Roman Empire in Europe. This city is one of the holiest places for Hindus and Jains, and even Lord Buddha gave his very first sermon here in 528 BC. In Hinduism, it is believed that dying in Varanasi brings salvation, which is the reason why the city is always brimming with pilgrims.
2. Ujjain (700/600 BC–)
Ujjain was once considered as one of the most prominent cities in the Middle India. In fact, the name of this city is repeatedly mentioned in the literature of that period, i.e. in the works of stalwarts like Kālidāsa. This city has seen the rise and fall of numerous empires, from the Mauryas to the Avantis, Nandas, and even the Guptas. This city, just like Varanasi, is also considered as one of the holiest cities in India, and hosts one of the officially recognized Kumbh melas, the Ujjain Simhastha Kumbh, in which people across the world take place.
3. Madurai (500 BC–)
Madurai been a major center of culture and trade for more than 2500 years. In fact, the name of this city has been mentioned in the writings of the great traveler, Megasthenes, and has been ruled by several empires from the Pandyas and the Cholas to the Karnata, and finally the British. Interestingly, ‘'Koodal,' was one of its ancient name which means 'a congregation of learned men'. There is no doubt that Madurai was an epicenter of scholars and religious teachers in the southern part of India.
4. Thanjavur (300 BC–)
Thanjavur was formerly known as Tanjore. This city is pretty famous for its Tanjore style of painting, which is a traditional style that is characterised by the use of gold foil, religious imagery, and simple compositions. This city is best known for being the home of the Great Living Chola Temples, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Till date, people across the world visit this place in order to experience its rich history and heritage.
By- Digital Hub
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