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History of tea enclosed in glass
- First museum on beverage inaugurated during Tocklai conference

Jorhat, Nov. 28: It is history frozen in a glass cage.

A stopwatch dating back to the pre-Independence era and belonging to a leading agricultural scientist John M. Trinick and a microscope used by another scientist, L.C. Comrie, are some of the items, which have found a place in the country's first tea museum inaugurated here today.

The museum is part of the Tocklai Experimental Station, the oldest and largest tea research station in the world.

'There could not have been a better place than Tocklai to display the glorious history and rich tradition of the more than 100-year-old tea industry of the country,' former Tea Board chairman N.K. Das said in a brief speech after inaugurating the museum.

The exhibits at the museum include various products on which the premier station has carried out research since its beginning to the present day ' from the comprehensive tea encyclopaedia to diversified products, such as tea tablets, biscuits and soft drinks.

The museum also houses maps and charts chronicling the events since the discovery of tea in China by Emperor Sheng Nung Fo in 2737 BC almost by accident.

The former Tea Board chairman appealed to the tea planters to contribute to the museum by donating mementoes or antiques related to the industry. 'Every tea garden in Assam has a history and some of the items found in the gardens have a history of their own. These should find a place in the museum,' Das said.

Director of the institute, Mridul Hazarika, hoped that the museum 'will go on to be one of the best museums around'.

Since its inception in 1911, Tocklai has been serving the industry and has become synonymous with tea research in the country. The phenomenal increase in production of tea in the Northeast, from 234 million kg in 1951 to nearly 669 million kg in 1998, clearly underlines the impact of R&D activities.

If the museum is about showcasing the past, governor Lt Gen. (retd) Ajai Singh focussed on the future in typically military style ' urging the tea industry to launch a patriotic mission so that Assam recaptures the tea world.

Inaugurating the 34th Tocklai conference later today, Singh said: 'I have travelled round the globe and found that Assam tea is the best in the world. We have to launch a war against out competitors to keep this prestige intact.'

Expressing concern over the crisis in the industry, the governor said Assam was the leader in the tea world and it will have to work hard to keep up the good work. 'We have to break into frontier technology to win over the competition from other countries.'

Calling upon industry captains to finds ways to dominate the tea world, the governor said: 'You have the right man at Raj Bhavan to help you in your mission.'

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