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Two leaves and a bud

Tea and tourism remains are the biggest employers for the Gorkhas of Darjeeling hills. Locals rue on the lack of technical colleges that can give them a chance at better jobs. An unemployed youth shoots a tourist inside a tea estate. Read full story: Simmering discontent over tea Photograph by: Sayantan Bera      

Two leaves and a bud

Women pluckers return after a day of work. The hilly terrain makes plucking a demanding job. Women often climb for hours together to reach the plucking area. Read full story: Simmering discontent over tea Photograph by: Sayantan Bera      

Two leaves and a bud

Tea garden workers are not informed of the prices the tea is sold for in western markets. The housing and medical facilities inside the tea estates are often rudimentary. Radha Thakuri is one of the pluckers living inside a ramshackle tin house and cannot buy her son books for the school. For her, the international success of brand Darjeeling has meant little. Read full story: Simmering discontent over tea

Two leaves and a bud

First flush Darjeeling tea is trucked to the factory. Read full story: Simmering discontent over tea Photograph by: Sayantan Bera      

Two leaves and a bud

Despite the challenges, brand Darjeeling is earning premium returns from western markets. Coupled with Organic and Fair Trade labels, Darjeeling retails between Rs 2,000 to Rs 18,000 internationally. Tea estates earn 70 percent of their incomes through exports. Read full story: Simmering discontent over tea Photograph by: Sayantan Bera      

Two leaves and a bud

A worker sits by pruned tea bushes. The average age of tea bushes in Darjeeling is 85 years and falling productivity is a cause for concern. Erratic rainfall and the transition to organic forms of cultivation, say planters, have made a dent in productivity. Read full story: Simmering discontent over tea Photograph by: Sayantan Bera    

Two leaves and a bud

The ubiquitous ‘Gorkhaland’ sign on a meat shop. The hills have seen a resurgence in the demand for separate statehood within the Indian federation. The ethnic Gorkhas, a majority in the hills, came to Darjeeling over 150 years ago, from across the border in Nepal as labourers to work in the tea gardens. Read full story: Simmering discontent over tea Photograph by: Sayantan Bera

Two leaves and a bud

A women plucks first flush Darjeeling at the Happy Valley tea estate. The wage rise was a pitiful Rs 14 in the last 11 years, until the recent hike of Rs 23 in a go, the largest in the history of tea gardens. Read full story: Simmering discontent over tea Photograph by: Sayantan Bera    

Two leaves and a bud

The prime ‘first flush’ Darjeeling tea is withered at a factory. The politically strong labor union had put an embargo on its dispatch, demanding a raise in wages and better welfare benefits for the 55,000 permanent workers of tea gardens. Read full story: Simmering discontent over tea Photograph by: Sayantan Bera      

Two leaves and a bud

Organic tea and ‘Gorkhaland’ share window space at the iconic Keventers Café in the Darjeeling hills. Darjeeling is known for its signature teas and is a popular tourist destination, north of West Bengal. Read full story: Simmering discontent over tea Photograph by: Sayantan Bera      
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