In a era stretching over two and half decades, India has observed a growth model marked by agglomeration in and around pre-existing growth centres, accentuating already existing regional disparities in the country. The Plantation industry was formed in India during the colonial era. Following independence worker unionization began, and the Plantation Labour Act was passed in 1952, guaranteeing labors had minimum level of housing and services. The Plantation industry was require a large labour power tea or coffee plucking and daily management operations, but they are also vertically integrated in terms of tea of coffee processing and manufacture. Plucking of tea or coffee is largely conducted by women. In the Nilgiris, 70% of the cultivable area is covered with tea. Tamil Nadu in South India has 48% of the tea plantations in India, the highest share. Coffee production in India is dominated in the hill tracts of South Indian states; with the state of Karnataka accounting 71% followed by Kerala 21% and Tamil Nadu 5% of production of 8,200 tonnes (Coffee Board, 2017).
Labour Migration to Plantation Sector in India
Migration and settlement of labour into Assam and North Bengal tea plantations was started from the early fifties of the· nineteenth century. In the beginning, migration took place in a scattered and unorganized way. The sudden expansion of the industry created a group of contractors who supplied labour to the tea gardens. The supply of labour to the tea plantations proved a crisis owing to competition between contractors. In 1861, the Government appointed a committee to enquire into the system under which the emigration of labour was conducted. As a result of this and other inquiries, various Acts were passed and finally, in 1915 recruitment by contractors was abolished (Herler, 1990). A huge number of migrants from South India, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were settled in the plantation and also in the lands of neighboring areas. The plantation Recruitment was always made on a short-term basis, i.e., for three years. According to the agreement, the labourers were supposed to be send home to their respective native places with a ‘repatriation allowance’. However, such occasions hardly ever arose because once recruited, it was difficult for the labourers to leave the plantation (Baildaon, 1999).
Agrarian regions of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, famine, drought, flood and epidemics coupled with excessive exploitation of poor peasants and landless labourers by the big landlords and zamindars was common. These factors led to migration of huge bulk of population to Assam in search of livelihood. Apart from these “push factors”, certain “pull factors” like false assurance regarding easy work, ideal condition of work, better pay and unlimited land available for cultivation were given to the workers which motivated them to migrate to Assam. Contractors were usually deployed to hire labouers for tea estates in different parts of the state. The transportation of the workers to these estates, covering sometimes a distance of 800 kms without any road or rail link was a hazardous task. The long journey mostly caused sickness and high mortality (Baruah, 2008).
Rationale of the Study
Plantation labourers still working for low wages and poor living and working conditions for the 155,000 people who live on the vast estates owned by Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL) are leading to high levels of malnutrition and ill health (Rowlatt, 2016). For tea estate workers, plantation income is the major source of income for 80% of workers, who have little other time available for income generating activities. A small percentage of households have members engaged in unskilled wage labour and a few households receive remittances, but often both spouses are working on the estate, with the women plucking tea and the men working as a security person, driver, pruner or sprayer. A few households have a member doing unskilled work, and many send remittances to children/relatives working and studying elsewhere. It is widely reported that workers earn higher wages off the estate, e.g. in construction, of up to Rs300 to Rs 400 per day and absenteeism represents a major problem for the estates. An associated complaint from management is that these earnings are spent on alcohol.
Objectives of the Study
1. To know the socio-economic status of the migrant plantation labourers
2. To understand the migration impact on poverty of plantation labourers
The present research the impact of migration to the plantation sector in Karnataka on poverty based on empirical research. The study has been carried out in plantation region of Karnataka i.e., Chikkamagaluru, Kodagu and Hassan. The research in involves descriptive research design and purposive sampling technique was adopted, only minimum 5 years migrated families working in plantation sector are selected for research, 121 sample was finalized based on Morgan sample survey technique with 0.5 percent significance level and researcher adopted Ravisrivatsva’s scale to analyse the migration and poverty level among plantation laboures. The study finds that at native, workers have deprived living and working conditions, lack citizenship rights, powers and voice. Though, at the cost of hardship, little consumption levels, and possibly a smaller working life span, they handle to save a good segment of their income which they remit or take back home. At beginning, migrant households statement higher expenditure on consumption, residential housing, and children’s education, as well as some other assets. These differences are a result of higher employ and wage incomes among migrants.
Results and Discussion
Working circumstance of plantation workers at Destination
Most of the plantation migrant labourers belong to deprived communities that include such as Scheduled Tribes, and Scheduled Castes (SC), religious minorities and Other Backward Castes (OBC). Most workers have poor educational background, with only 26 per cent of the sample workers reporting education higher than primary. Most of these workers largely rely on casual work as main source of livelihood even in their native place. An overpowering majority of the labourers retain strong connections with the origin place which they visit at the end of working season at the destination, confirming their status as circulatory migrants. While some workers are recruited for a specific duration or seasonally, and go back to their places of origin at the end of this period, others stay on, rotating between one site and another, and return occasionally to their places of origin.
The migrant labourers access employment in the plantation through a social network comprising Kangani/Mesthri/Righter/contractors, middlemen, relatives and acquaintances depending of type of plantation he/ she is engaged in. The terms and conditions of plantation labourers’ employment vary between different migration streams but, in all cases, it is decided at origin. In plantation there is no crèche facility for children accompanying migrant labourers and their families (Smita, Panjiar, & Prashant, 2007). Worse, as the children accompany their parents to either help them with work or play at the plantation, they are exposed to various health hazards (Srivastava, 1999). As the schooling system at home does not take into account their migrant pattern and migrant status at destination places bar them from accessing facilities such as Anganwadi, ICDS, they remain disadvantaged of education; imprison them to the status of future unskilled labour much like their parents (Rogaly, et al., 2002). Majority 67 per cent of the respondents bring their children in to working area and 21 per cent of the respondent assigns their elder children to look after their younger children in line house. So this kind of practice remains their entire family as illiterate. In recent process, many workers were migrating to Chikkamagaluru, Hassan and Kodagu from Assam to seek their employment for better wage condition, these workers not allowing their children to local Anganawadi or school because of language and cultural barriers.
As many as 98 workers in a sample of 121 workers maintain that they have sent remittances over the last one year. The skilled workers have sent as much as Rs. 28,410 as remittances that compares with `12,431 on average sent by unskilled workers. The impact of remittances on household economy could be via changes in the pattern of expenditure and investment.
Table 1, Current status of Plantation labourers
Difficult to Say
Other living condition
Amount of employment available
Feeling of security
Freedom from social constraints
The above table reveals the impact of migration on current status. It clearly indicates that there is a clear dichotomy in the insight of plantation labourers regarding living conditions including housing, availability of employment and remuneration. Majority of the plantation labourers observe their housing conditions and living conditions generally poorer in the destination areas. Only 19 per cent workers report their housing conditions as better at destination, and only 32 per cent report plantation labourers’ general living condition as better at destination. On the other hand, most labourers were reported that their working status, remuneration and availability of employment, and overall assessment as better at the place of destination than their native place. Such contrasts in reply reflect circumstance of pure destitution in which they live in their native place and the reject of availability of livelihoods in the source areas. Overall, most plantation labourers interviewed demonstrate to some positive impact of migration on the living conditions of workers, possibly representative conditions of pure destitution in their native places. Most labourers also agree that the additional revenue that they earn as migrant labour in the plantation sectors allow them better access to food and schooling by their children.
Impact of Migration on Poverty
Change in Socio-economic Status
Table 2, Socio-economic Status of Migrant Plantation Worker before and after migration
Lower Middle Class
Upper Middle Class
The impact of short-term and seasonal migration on the source area is many dimensional. It depends on a number of factors, and their net impact determines the nature and extent of benefits accruing to migrant households. If migration is an involuntary response to the distress in the source area and workers are locked into debt migration cycle, benefits normally associated with earning differentials may not materialize at all and may even result in conditions of neo-bondage (Srivastava, 2004, 2009b). To assess the impact of migration on the socio-economic status of the migrant plantation labourers, researcher interviewed migrant plantation workers socio-economic status before and after migration with the assistance of udai pareek’s socio-economic status scale, In terms of their overall socio-economic status, households of all sample categories perceive improvements in socio-economic position after migration. However, on closer look, the responses by migrant improvement in their relative well-being across time. Not only are there higher percentage of households among the migrant households who think that they are in the lower and high middle class, but also the rate of change in the perception of change from low class to middle class. perhaps indicating positive impact of migration on their quality of life. The responses by the sample households again give impression of not only migrant households being better placed compared to before migration, but also that they also have witnessed faster change in their status.
Table 3, Sanitation, Health and Infrastructure analysis before and after migration
The above table reveals that households perceive their status on health and sanitation. Migrant households, however, did perceive their status to be better off after migration. None of the plantation migrant households perceived their health and sanitation status to be poor after migration. Comparatively 62.5 per cent of migrant plantation laboure households having good opinion about their sanitation status before migration they opined good only 29.17 per cent. More than two-thirds among the migrant plantation laboure households now perceive their health status to be good or very good compared to a negligible percentage before migration. This is in sharp contrast with how migrants feel about infrastructure of their community. Their perceptions of the community status are better than migrants both now and past.
However, these perceptions are subjective and may also get shaped by different exposure at work place. This is particularly true for the migrant plantation households; most of them come to plantation area, where the perceptions of hygiene, sanitation and infrastructure are different from those in the source areas. The questions on household’s perceptions of food adequacy revealed.
Table 4, Family Food Consumption Adequacy
Though the migrant from before and after migration respondents households have witnessed improvement in the adequacy of food, the percentage of respondents who think that their food consumption is adequate or plenty is much higher among migrant plantation labour households than the before migration. Going by their perceptions, migrant labour households have also witnessed faster changes in their status on food adequacy compared to past.
This paper analysis the impact of this migration on the plantation laboures and their families and notes its opposing nature, positioning to the many impasses associated with conceptualizing its impact on poverty in the wider view. In plantation, labors have deprived in living and working conditions, lack residency rights, entitlements and voice. Their wages are lower than local workers. However, at the cost of hardship, little consumption levels, and possibly a smaller operational life span, they manage to save a good portion of their income which they remit or take back home. It is clear that migrant plantation labors are clever to secure employment for longer duration as well as receive higher wages than their native. Their payments are used to increase expenditure, the condition of inhabited housing, expenditure on children’s education and choosy investment in other possessions. Although it is not probable to control for distinctions in early conditions, higher wage incomes among migrant plantation labors, point to that migrant plantation labourers have more income to organize in order to improve living conditions of family members. Most migrant labourers are recruited for a specific duration or seasonally and go back to their places of origin at the end of this period; others stay on, rotating between various plantations, and return occasionally to their native places. Given their profile of low education and skills, and large uncertainties that they face in the potential job market, most workers tend to rely on middlemen (Mesthri, Righter) for recruitment. Collusion between employers and middlemen creates the conditions that result in the sidestepping of basic labour standards relating to labours. Plantation industry is human centric, female laboures are largely engaged in plantation work than man, but they continue with unskilled tasks at the lowest level for their entire careers in plantation related labour activities. Few migrant plantation labours have proof of identity, depriving them of access to entitlements at the destination. Majority of migrant plantation labours maintain a very low standard of living, and they are capable to save and remit and use their remittances to improve their conditions of housing in the native areas and a few were settled in neares plantation area by purchasing local houses, purchase some durables, repay loans and spend on their children’s education and health. The overall result of research reflects that majority of plantation migrant labors are not satisfied with their wage and security in the plantation, long working hours and strenuous work. On the whole, there are significant costs that are borne by poorer labour migrants and their accompanying family members.
Social Work Implication
Internationally the social work profession has developed rapidly; different social work authors have debated the definition, the framework of practice (Healy & Link, 2012), theories and challenges surrounding the universality of social work values and practice of international social work (Lyons, Hokenstad, Pawar, Huegler, & Hall, 2012).
Social work with vulnerable migrants is essentially designed by national situations and policies within different welfare administrations. The impasse for the profession is its originated and contextual nature vis-a`-vis the often unstable, complex and dynamic demographic it confronts. The social work’s response to racial, cultural and ethnic multiplicity has focused on domestic politics, often divorced from transnational considerations of movement and exchange. Perhaps nowhere has this been more poignantly demonstrated than in the case of British India. The migration during colonial period for plantation related work to northeast and southern Indian was forced, in some nature it was pushed migration cause because of natural calamities. Social work in its prominence on vulnerabilities and take action to immediate needs has neglected to consider the global contexts of issues impacting on the migrant such as colonialism, slavery, wars and exploitations—all integral elements of the process of modernization. Migrants are denied to practice their culture in destination place, in that circumstances the predominant orientation is required to local people with appropriate intervention of tools and techniques of social work towards on language and cultural attributes and rights of migrants.
The study indicates that migrant households perceived themselves to be somewhat better off after migration. Slanted appraisal is also shows that plantation migrant labours feel that migration has led to marked upgrading in their standard of living. The research is also make available an empirical evidence of the impact of attitudinal changes on the plantation labour migrant’s perception concerning to their children’s education, hygiene, sanitation and community infrastructure, as well as political right and participation in the source villages. However, in the absence of objective assessments of wealth status before and after migration, we suggest the results of this ex-post cross-sectional analysis are interpreted with caution.
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