Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
In spite of the obvious defects of Act VI of 1901 and the inherent weakness of the Assam Labour Board, the grave abuses of the past, which were largely responsible for the bad name of Assam in the recruiting districts, have been very successfully held in check. The arkatti or professional recruiter, who in the days gone by used to boast that in a few minutes, by his peculiar methods, he could make any one "willing" to emigrate to Assam, is now suppressed as soon as he commences his activities. For this the credit is very largely due to the tea industry itself, which has genuinely endeavoured to set its house in order. Complaints have been made of fraud and misrepresentation by garden sardars, but we were unable to obtain any evidence of this on any appreciable scale. The emigrants are produced before local agents, whose duty it is to explain the conditions of employment to them before they are sent forward to Assam. As far as we can judge, cases in which labourers have gone to Assam as victims of fraud and misrepresentation must be few, considering the volume of the migration. It was stated that cases occur where members of a family run away from home, seek work in Assam and live there under an assumed name. Such cases, however, are not peculiar to Assam, and we do not feel justified in making any recommendation. A more serious complaint is that women and minors are taken away to Assam without the knowledge or consent of their husband or guardian. But here, too, we found that the industry has taken special care to prevent such abuses and that, in accordance with the rules framed by local Governments, women and minors are detained at the depot for a certain fixed period during which the local agent institutes enquiries as to whether there is any objection to their proceeding to Assam. Nor does the evidence which we obtained in the recruiting districts lend support to the allegation that abuses in connection with the recruitment of women and minors are assuming alarming proportions. If abuses do exist, it is now within the powers of local Governments to check them by insisting on registration and production before a magistrate of all women and minors proceeding to the gardens unaccompanied by their husband or parent.