Truth About Tea Campaign at Lucknow's Kabir Festival

Truth About Tea Campaign at Lucknow's Kabir Festival

The fourth edition of the Kabir Festival was held at the Sangeet Natak Academy in Lucknow from Nov 22-25. Organised by Dastak Manch (and co-sponsored by Oxfam India), the youth festival every years runs with a social cause. This time they promoted our #TruthAboutTea campaign. The other key highlight of the Festival was the panel discussion on the book Beyond Charity (10 years of Oxfam India).

The Sangeet Natak Academy, venue for the Kabir Festival had posters and standees of our tea campaign everywhere. With catchy slogans, courtesy Deepak Kabeer, and the campaign messaging was plastered across the venue, the organisers made sure that visitors present called on the number (70979 70979) and extended their support for the tea campaign. They made announcements regularly before and after each event.

Kabir Festival

Apart from posters etc., there was also an art installation that showed a tea worker working in the plantation with data on the daily wages that they got. There was a tea truck where people could take their photo and show their solidarity to the workers in Assam. The Lucknow Commissioner, Mukesh Meshram who was present to inaugurate the Festival took keen interest in the campaign.

The installation piqued the interest of a lot of visitors; Pooja Adhikari, Melkas Toppo, Rustom Kujur and Sushna Hurumsuku interacted with the visitors and explained the issue to them. While Melkas and Rustom are with the All Adivasi Students Association of Assam, Sushna Hurumsuku  works with Pajhra (a Tezpur based NGO working with tea garden workers). All three of them are from tea estates and know the struggles of tea workers from very close quarters.

The general perception of people is that the workers are getting wages plus the plantations provide housing, food, health facilities, education so why is there a problem. The session on #TruthAboutTea helped bust some of these myths. The session, held on 24th Nov, was led by Pooja, Melkas, Sushna and Rustom.  The discussion was peppered with some of the videos that was made for the Tea campaign, including Adil Hussain’s video. During the discussion, the speakers spoke about the history of tea, why we were doing the tea campaign, on the dismal state of health and education facilities, on women’s health and the conditions in which they work, the lack of protective facilities for the workers, and poor wages. Many from the audience approached the panelists to know more about the reality of the tea estates. In fact, after the session a tea seller at the festival, also from Assam, came and met with the three panelists!

The panel discussion was followed by a small skit on tea workers that showed the poor wages that the workers got once they were at the plantation. This was prepared by students.

On 23rd Nov, there was a discussion on the book Beyond Charity. The idea was to decode the book for the general readers. On the panel were professors of social work and development communication. The discussion helped explain to the readers why this book was published, why there is a need for such books, and how these stories need to be told. Both the sessions were well received by the audience.

Both the sessions were streamed live on Facebook.

Book Discussion:

Truth About Tea Discussion:

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