Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
We are glad that the general idea of repatriation after three years was favourably received by the Indian Tea Association, including its two Assam branches, and by individual managers. It is not necessary, therefore, to labour the arguments in its favour. The scheme, if put into operation, should lead to a substantial increase in the number of candidates for emigration and for ever destroy the belief that Assam is a country from which return is difficult or impossible. It should lead to a healthy rivalry among garden managers in the matter of improving conditions, while it will give the labourer a greatly increased sense of security. We understand that a scheme of repatriation is already in force in the Assam coal mines, and we were informed that a group of gardens in Jorhat promise repatriation at the end of three years if the emigrant so desires. By the industry generally substantial sums are already spent in repatriation, for much of what is officially described as sending down garden sardars is in essence repatriation, and so regarded by the industry. Whether the changes involved in our scheme are covered by the diversion of existing expenditure or not. we believe that they will prove, a profitable investment, and will secure an increased flow of labour, and thus lower recruiting costs. As regards the fear that the offer of " free passages " will denude Assam of workers, we would observe that, if work is adequate, the right will be limited to new recruits, and that many workers, if they are given leave (either at the end of three years or earlier) and the means to return, will readily do so. With the abolition of penal contracts and similar restraints tea gardens, like other industrial establishments, must depend on offering sufficient attractions in order to maintain their labour force. The emigrant must be convinced that Assam holds out the opportunities of a better life than is open to him in his home land. If he is not convinced, nothing else will secure a flow of emigrants; if he is convinced, it will be difficult to keep him away.