The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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First women as tea bosses
- Labourers happy with fair managers, planters hope for profit

Siliguri, Oct. 5: For the first time in the history of tea industry of the region, three women will assume managerial posts in the Dooars.

Sunita Kumari from Deoghar in Jharkhand, Amrita Gurung from Kalchini in Jalpaiguri and Pranita Rai from Mirik in Darjeeling, who are going through internship at the Kumlai tea estate in Malbazar, will soon be posted as assistant managers or tea researchers or labour welfare officers in the garden.

“We thought of conducting an experiment and recruit women to managerial posts. The management of Kumlai agreed to it but said they will have to undergo a training first,” said Prabir Bhattacharya, the secretary of Dooars Branch of Indian Tea Association. “The girls have seems to be competent and even the workers have accepted them more readily than their male counterparts.”

The Kumlai tea estate, owned by the S.K. Kanoi group, produces around 10 lakh kg of tea every year, a source said.

“It is natural that women will be accepted as managers more easily than men. Since most of the workers are women (60 per cent of the workforce), they will feel more at ease to interact with their managers,” said N.K. Basu, the principal adviser to the Indian Tea Planters’ Association. “We hope that this move will improve the financial condition of the estates.”

For Sunita, who passed out of National Institute of Tea Management, Amrita and Pranita, it is a hectic routine. They go out in the morning on motorcycles to check the plucking of leaves at the plantations and then come back to the factory for office work.

“I am learning how leaves are weighed and the quality of plucked leaves checked,” Sunita said. The other two are busy getting the hang of official work and labour management measures.

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