Tea Plantations and Socio-Cultural Transformation: The Case of Assam (India)

Main Article Content

Chandra Kala Magar
Bimal Kumar Kar


The tea plantations of Assam, which constitute the country’s 53.97 per cent tea area, 49 per cent tea worker population, and 52.04 per cent tea production, occupy an important place in the economy, culture and polity of the state. The onset of tea plantations during British colonial rule has not only changed the landscape of the upper Brahmaputra valley through green tea bushes being nourished by tea tribes from east-central India, but also evolved a distinct tea culture. Although formation of small tea growers has added a new dimension to the growth of tea industry of Assam in recent times, the culture that emerged due to the long continued interaction of British planters, tea worker tribes and indigenous Assamese is well reflected in the language, way of life, work culture, food habits and many other socio-cultural practices in most of the large tea estates in the state. In fact, the impact of tea culture is so penetrative that it has been able to bring about development in the form of tea festival, tea tourism, tea folk songs and dances, etc. in the state. An attempt is made in this paper to explore the role of tea plantation and the people associated with it to the socio-cultural transformation of Assam based on both secondary data and primary data through field study. The primary data have been collected from selected tea estates, tea garden worker colonies, tea-tribe villages and urban dwellers.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Magar, C. K., & Kar, B. K. (2016). Tea Plantations and Socio-Cultural Transformation: The Case of Assam (India). Space and Culture, India, 4(1), 25-39. https://doi.org/10.20896/saci.v4i1.188
Special Articles
Author Biographies

Chandra Kala Magar, B.Borooah College, Guwahati, Assam, Pin 781007

Assistant Professor, Department of Geography

Bimal Kumar Kar, Gauhati University, Guwahati, Pin-781014

Professor and Head, Department of Geography, Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam.


Ambedkar, B.R. (1916). Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development, Writings and Speeches, Vol. 1. Bombay: Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, (eds.) by Frances W. Pritchett 1979, pp. 3-22.
Anonymous, (1885). The Tea Planter's Vade Mecum: A Volume of Important Articles, Correspondence, and Information of Permanent Interest and Value Regarding Tea, Compiled by the Editor of the ‘Indian Tea Gazette’, P.S. D’Rozario and Co., 1885, 12 Waterloo Street, Calcutta.
Antrobus, H. (1957). A History of the Assam Company, Edinburgh: Private Printing by T. and A. Constable, pp.380-388.
Baildon, S. (1882). Tea Industry in India: A Review of Finance and Labour and A Guide for Capitalists and Assistants, W.H. Allen and Co., 13 Waterloo Place, S.W. Publishers, London.
Baroowah, G.P. (2006). Tea-Legend, Life and Livelihood of India, in Red River by LBS Publications, New Delhi.
Baruah, P. (2008). The Tea Industry of Assam: Origin and Development, EBH Publishers, Guwahati, Assam. ISBN-81-903834-6-2, Pg.1-318.
Das, T. K., Bhattacharyya, R., Alam, Md. F. &Parvin, A. (2015). Causes and Contexts of Domestic Violence: Tales of Help-Seeking Married Women in Sylhet, Bangladesh, Asian Social Work and Policy Review, 9 (2), 163–176, doi:10.1111/aswp.12055
Das, T. K., Bhattacharyya, R., Alam, Md. F. & Parvin, A. (2016). Domestic Violence in Sylhet, Bangladesh: Analysing the Experiences of Abused Women, Social Change, 46(1), 1-18, DOI: 10.1177/0049085715618561
Gruning, J. F. (1909). Recruitment of Labour for Tea Gardens in Assam, University of California, Shillong.
Guha, A. (1977). Planter Raj to Swaraj: Freedom Struggle and Electoral Politics in Assam, 1826-1947, Tulika Books Publications, Pg. 1-336.
Gupta, S.P. (1969). Statistical Methods, Sultan Chand and Sons, Delhi, ISBN-978-8054-739-3, pp. 2-1425.
Joseph, M. (2009). ‘Women Workers in Tea Plantation: A Brief Appraisal’, The Tea Labourers of North East India : An Anthropo-Historical Perspective, Sarthak Sengupta ( eds), Mittal Publications, New Delhi, pp. 295.
Khullar, D.R. (2006). India: A Comprehensive Geography, Kalyani Publishers, New Delhi.
Kurmi, S. (2007). Asomor Chah-Shramikar Avadan, (in Assamese), published by Dr. Rafiquz Zaman IAS, Secretary, Publication Board Assam, Guwahati-781021.
Kurmi, P. (2010). ‘Akhomiya Sahityaloi Sah Janagusthir Sahityikar Abadan’, Assam Sahitya Sabha Patrika: Samanbyoy Bikhekh Sankhya, 64th Year, A journal of Assam Sahitya Sabha, Hakacham, U.R (eds), Fourth Issue (March, 2010), published by Dr. Paramananda Rajbongshi, General Secretary, Assam Sahitya Sabha, Chandrakanta Handique Bhawan, Jorhat-I
Kydd, J.C. (1921). Tea Industry, Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, Calcutta.
Magar, C. (2016). ‘Place of Tea in the Culture, Economy and Polity of Assam: A Geographical Analysis’, an unpublished Ph.D dissertation submitted to the Department of Geography, Gauhati University.
Mehta, R. (1987). Socio-legal Status of Women in India, Mittal Publications, New Delhi, pp.139.
Money, E. (1883). The Cultivation and Manufacture of Tea, W.B. Whittingham and Co., 91, Gracechurch Street, Calcutta, Thacker and Co., pp. 10-12.
Roy, S.K. (2005). Tribes Education and Gender Question, Northern Book Centre, New Delhi, pp.165.
Sharma, D.P. (2015). ‘Contribution of ‘Tea Tribes’ to the Development of Assamese Identity’, Prajna: The Annual Journal of Gauhati University Teachers’ Association, Bibha Bharali (eds), Maliya Offset Press, Mirza, Guwahati, Vol.XXIV, 2014-15, ISSN-0976-9072.
Singh, B. (2015). Tea Production to Decline in Assam This Year, The Economic Times, 1st November, 2015, 3.45 pm, IST.
Subba, T.B. and Ghosh, G.C. (2003): The Anthropology of North-East India, Anthropological Survey of India, North Eastern Hill University, Orient Blackswan Publications, pp.320.
Tanti, S.K. (2002). ‘Chah Janagosthir Bhasa Samporka’, (in Assamese), Amar Asom, 4th March, 2002.
Vauquline, P. (2015). Socialisation Process, Power Relations and Domestic Violence: Marginal Voices of Assamese Women, Space and Culture, India, 3(2), 54-71, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.20896/saci.v3i2.155
Yamamoto, T. (1999). Philosophical Designs for a Socio-Cultural Transformation: Beyond Violence and the Modern Era, (eds.), 1 Mar 1999, Pg. 860.
Yee, L. K. (2013). Tea’s Wonderful History’, The Chinese Historical and Cultural Project, (1996–2012), http://chcp.org/virtual-museum-library/teas-wonderful-history/, retrieved on 14 June 2015.
Others: Tea Board of India (2013-2014). Tea Statistics, (2013-2014), Under Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
The Telegraph (2015, 28 January). A festive brew of culture, downloaded on 20th March 2015 at 9.00 am, http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150128/jsp/northeast/story_10306.jsp#.
Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, downloaded at 8.40 am, 2nd May 2016, http://tribal.nic.in/Content/NationalCommissionforScheduledTribesOrganisations.aspx.