The All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam (AASAA) and Adivasi women’s groups - Nazdeek’s partners in Assam - held a demonstration on 24 April 2017 to protest the degrading “Alarm Bajne Se Pehle Jaago Re” campaign started by Tata Tea. The ad was released in February as a part of the company’s ongoing campaign “with the central theme of pre-activism.” Through their campaign, Tata Tea is urging people across the country to take action before social issues become disasters. Through their protest, AASAA and AAWAA asked Tata to practice what they preach and called on it to wake up! Wake up to the appalling living and working conditions at Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL – a subsidiary of Tata) tea plantations. Wake up to the poor sanitation, dilapidated housing, and lack of adequate health care. And wake up to the fact that they only pay their workers a wage of 137 rupees, which is barely enough to survive and does not even meet the legal minimum wage set by the state.
Considering the human rights violations and indignities that the APPL workers are subjected to every day, the “Jaago Re” ad campaign by Tata Tea comes across as insulting and incongruous; it completely ignores the company’s own failure in upholding the fundamental rights of APPL workers and undermines years of sustained protests and advocacy led by Adivasi activists against these injustices.