Passage to Bondage

Labour in the Assam Tea Plantations

Edited by Samita Sen

Translated by Suhit Kumar Sen

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The most lucrative colonial commercial enterprise for the British Empire in India was the tea industry, concentrated in Assam and North Bengal. The coolies were brought from eastern and central India and virtually sold to the gardens at enormous profit. This was the only industry to employ women in such large numbers. By the late nineteenth century, stories of rape, abduction and high mortality caught the imagination of the new middle class that was moved to protest, petition and mobilize public opinion. The book documents the colonial social history, particularly the severely exploitative labour system, akin to slavery, with a historical perspective on coolie labour and the women question

Samita Sen

Samita Sen is Vice Chancellor, Diamond Harbour Women's University.