Hand-Book of Castes and Tribes Employed on Tea Estates in North-East India; Compiled in the Office of the Secretaries of the Tea Districts Association, Calcutta, and Printed for Private Circulation Only
Calcutta, Tea Districts Labour Association. 1924, First Edition. Original Cloth. Book, Large octavo, brown cloth covered boards with gilt titles and gilt spine titles. 360pp. including index. This is a fascinating insight into the sociology and ethnology as well as the management and government of English managed Tea Estates in North-East India at the turn of the century. Many Englishmen and Britons who were younger sons or adventurers with limited opportunities it the staid British economy nearing the end of the Victorian period, went to become Tea planters. It was really just another business opportunity and many of them had absolutely no knowledge, skills or experience at planting, manufacturing or wholesaling tea. Of particular difficulty for the novice tea planter in the Raj, was the fact that the tea areas provided only a small work force compared to the many hands that were needed to plant, prune and harvest tea. Consequently the tea plantations became a center of inter-ethnic exchange and sometimes struggle, as competing ethnicly, linguistically and religiously diverse groups found themselves cheek by jowl on tea plantations. This volume very frankly and candidly (no wonder it was printed for private circulation) addresses the welter of conflicts, language and communication difficulties and religious observances with which the Estate Manager (as both employer and paterfamilias) had to be prepared to deal. Consider simply the conflicts between Christian, Muslin, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Animist and Jainist when it comes to observing holy days on the calendar, food taboos, ritual observances and caste distinctions and discrimination. Add to that the ethnic and linguistic hurdles in communicating with a workforce that could be compounded of (just lising the major groups) Dravidian, Kolarian, Unya, Bengali, Hindi etc. "It is with the object of assisting Tea Garden Managers and others concerned with Indian labour to a better understanding of the temperament, characteristics, caste traditions and obligations of their employees, that this compilation has been attempted." Part I describes the details of religious beliefs, observances etc. in detail including issues of marriage and inter-marriage and the traditionally recognized racial distinctions of India. Part II treats the castes and tribes, organized by language with details, statistics, customs, etc on each. There are also appendices on medical opinions relating to the settlement and acclimatization of labour in different areas, immigration, distribution of castes, etc.including chapters on caste and occupation, festivals and sects. A short bibliography of twenty-four books is given on page 352. "Labour on the tea-estates was drawn not only from the nearby areas but from as far as Eastern, Southern, and Central India and it was absolutely necessary for the managers to know about the principal castes and tribes, their origin, customs, religious beliefs and festivals etc. of the tribal people working for them. The object of this work was to present such information in a summary and easily accessible form." A very clean, tight volume with bright, clear gilt (spine gilt a bit dull), unmarked and unblemished. Very slight yellowing of extreme edges of pages. A really nice copy of this scarce title. FINE. Fine.
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Book number: 05558
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Keywords: Tea, Calcutta, Language, Custom, Culture, Plantation, Cultivation, Labor, Immigration, Regional, Management, Growing, Manufacture, Worker, Estate, Northeast, India, Indian, English, British, Expatriate, Colonial, Colony, Raj, Subcontinent, History, Religi