Structural Change

Structural Change


The labour system in Assam was essentially that of indenture by which the labourers went to Assam under contract for a number of years. The government helped the tea-planters by providing for penal sanction in case of non-fulfilment of the contract by the labourers.

This view is explicitly made by T. Raleigh, Law (Committee) Member, when speaking on the Assam Labour and Emigration Bill of 1901: “The labour-contract authorised by this Bill is a transaction by which, to put it rather bluntly, a man is often committed to Assam before he knows what he is doing, and is thereupon held to his promise for four years, with a threat of arrest and imprisonment if he fails to perform it. Conditions like these have no place in the ordinary law of master and servant. We made them part of the law of British India at the instance and for the benefit of the tea-planters of Assam... The fact remains that the motive power in this legislation is the interest of the planter, not the interest of the coolie”.


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