Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
In connection with the question of contact between plantations and the outside world, we desire to draw attention to the general ignorance regarding Assam and the absurd ideas prevalent regarding the life of the worker on tea plantations. Act VI of 1901 had the practical effect of making all forms of propaganda illegal, and with its repeal a systematic campaign should be organised by the industry to dispel the fog of ignorance which still prevails and to make known the advantages which the plantations have to offer to the inhabitants of other provinces. Leaflets in English and in the different vernaculars of the recruiting areas describing the climate of the province, the wages paid on the gardens, the nature of the work, the various concessions granted to the workers and also the conditions under which an emigrant is entitled to repatriation, should be distributed freely in the recruiting areas and posted in all depots from which emigrants are sent. For the benefit of the illiterate population, the leaflets might with advantage be supplemented by photographs illustrative of the life of the plantation workers. Attempts should also be made to encourage the emigrant to maintain touch with his own people. We were surprised to find how little correspondence exists at present between the worker and his relations (even his wife) in the home village. Illiteracy, the main obstacle, could to some extent be overcome by the employment on the gardens of a scribe, whose services should be made free of charge to the workers. We found that, on some of the estates in Ceylon, picture postcards, with space for writing, and with printed lines informing their relations at home of their arrival on the estate and of their postal address, are supplied free of charge to new recruits. We consider that a similar practice in the Assam tea gardens would help to destroy prejudices in the recruiting districts. The system might be adopted with advantage in other plantation areas.