Can there be a ‘socially responsible’ tea? Ashwini Sukhtankar and Peter Rosenblum

Shocking, saddening, sickening…

KAFILA - 10 years of a common journey

Guest post by ASHWINI SUKHTANKAR AND PETER ROSENBLUM

Almost four years ago, we first traveled to Rungamuttee, a tea estate in the Dooars, so far north that it nuzzles the Bhutan border. The region has recently fallen prey to the craze of “tea tourism,” and the estates jostle for space with eco-green-homestay lodges that lure middle class families with the opportunity to play at a mythic British sahib-memsahib life, sitting on verandahs sipping tea while gazing out over vast reaches of picturesque monoculture, with rows of squat green bushes as far as the eye can see.

We were not unmoved by the beauty and the weight of history, but we were there to talk to workers and to understand what plantation life meant for them in the 21st century.

At Rungamuttee, we sat perched in red plastic chairs, almost brushing knees with a sinewy old man, also in a red…

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