Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Practically every garden worker receives free housing, medical facilities and firewood, and many are given free grazing for cattle and land for cultivation, either free or at an uneconomic rent. To these must be added the grant of advances without interest, and in a few cases the issue of rice at concession rates. We deal later with housing, medical facilities and maternity benefits. Of the others, the concession to which the worker attaches most importance is the grant of land for private cultivation. The garden worker is essentially an agriculturalist, and his desire for the possession of a holding which he can cultivate with the help of the members of his family is great. This ambition for private land, if fully satisfied, would remove all desire for garden work, and in the allotment of garden land for private cultivation the planter has, therefore, to study his own interests as well as those of the worker. Hence the worker who desires and is able to set up as an independent cultivator has to move to Government land outside the garden, and private cultivation within the garden is confined to those families which can provide labour on the garden. The extent of this concession can be judged from the fact that in 1929 nearly 150, 000 acres of land were held by garden workers as tenants of the garden proprietors. This represents about a quarter of an acre for each adult labourer living in garden lines; and, as the rent charged is substantially below the real economic rent, the value of the concession is undoubted. But all gardens are not favourably situated in respect of the amount of land available for cultivation by their workers. In most gardens the acreage which can be distributed among the workers is limited, and few gardens can offer a holding of any size to the majority of the workers. Further, in the absence of any tenancy law applicable to the garden grants, the enjoyment of this concession is entirely at the discretion of the garden manager. Strictly speaking, the worker has a right only to the crop which he has sown and can be evicted from his holding, even though he may have devoted much labour to rendering it suitable for cultivation; but, so far as we are aware, eviction is not resorted to except for purposes of redistribution. The concession is unevenly distributed; in most gardens there are a number of workers without land, while there are a few who hold more than what is strictly their fair share.