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Church team helps tea workers secure rights

Lissy Maruthanakuzhy, Guwahati

Lissy Maruthanakuzhy, Guwahati

Updated: August 16, 2010 04:37 AM GMT
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Tea garden workers pose for a photo after a legal capacity building program
Tea garden workers pose for a photo after a legal capacity building program
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An Indian Church team that has been helping poor people fight for their rights for years is now focusing on tea garden workers in Assam state. “These laborers live in inhuman conditions and unfortunately their plight has not improved” even after the nation gained independence from the British in 1947, said rights activist and lawyer Jesuit Father Ravi Sagar. The priest started the Legal Cell for Human Rights in Guwahati archdiocese in the state in 2007 to assist underprivileged people. It works with a group of “socially conscious and committed lawyers” who spread legal knowledge among people to help them fight economic, social and political exploitation. The cell is now focusing on tea garden workers in the hills of Assam, where the British began tea cultivation in 19th century. Poor and tribal workers still continue their forefathers’ work in the state. Most of the time, the poor and vulnerable are denied their basic human rights because they “are not aware that they have a right” to adequate food and wages, said cell chairman Father Charles D’Souza. The organization promotes “legal capacity building” among young workers so that they become trainers for their own people, he said. The cell has so far conducted courses for some 12,000 villagers in 10 districts and taught 500 people advocacy skills. Assam produces 55 percent of India’s annual output of 805,180 million tons of tea. This makes India the second largest tea producing nation after China. Related reports Jesuits To Lead Greening Campaign In Northeastern India Church Leaders In Assam Call For Preserving Tribal Identity And Future IE10824.1615

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