Hope, and homes, crumbling on many Indian tea plantations

by Max Bearak

An employee of the Hattigor Tea Estate, which is owned by Amalgamated Plantations, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam in December. Photo: Himanshu Khagta/New York Times

NAHORANI TEA ESTATE, India — For a century and a half, Madhu Munda’s forebears toiled on the same tea plantation that she lives and works on now. Belonging to central Indian tribes brought to what is now the northeastern state of Assam by the British in the mid-19th century, they and millions of other plantation workers survived as little more than indentured servants, even as the British Raj gave way to Indian democracy.