Kerala means a land of coconut palms. The state of Kerala came into being in?
Kerala means a land of coconut palms. The state of Kerala came into being in November, 1956. Facing the Arabian Sea it has coast of about 300 miles and forms a narrow strip along the South Western Peninsular India. The state is backed on the East by a mountain range called the Western Ghats. It is on the slopes of these mountains the British-pioneered Plantation industry is situated.
The communist won the elections early this year and with the aid of five independents came to power at Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala, in April. The Communists promptly began speaking of nationalising foreign-owned plantations but the Centre put its foot down firmly on this proposal. Another line of Communist propaganda has been that the workers are now free to do what they like and that it was a workers' Government functioning in Kerala. To give point to what was said, the Communist Government set free many convicts from the jails and sought reprieve for one convicted and sentenced to be hanged for murder. The Chief minister said the police have no power to check "peoples"movements". Violence in plantations began against this background.
Cochin: Cochin is the main outlet of the produce flowing down from the plantations. Cochin has claim to ancient trade connections with the West. The arabs, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British have been here in their turn. Mattancherry is probably the most thickly populated square mile in the whole world and behind it in the bay are moored ships from all over the world. From here tea, coffee, rubber, black pepper, ginger, cardamon, lemongrass oil, cashewnut and coir are lifted. A drive of two hours from here through picturesque tropical country leads to the plantation areas.
THE TEA FACTORY AT KUMBAZHA ESTATE: This estate belongs to a well-known British-Company and it grows rubber as well. The Manager incharge is a Scott, who has many years of experience in planting.
One of the Planters' Association was present at the interview. He was seen with Mr. Lawson walking down the steps of his office.
View from Hill Top:- From the bungalow of the manager can be seen a wide vista of the wild mountains terrain towards the North and East. The hills in the distance have five large estates and there are three rivers between here and those estates. Wild elephants are still to be seen on the roads at night. Trouble in any of these estates take a long time to be known outside.
A.V. George:- Indians are gaining control of formally British-owned plantations. One of the foremost Indian Planters now is Mr. A. V. George at Kotayam.
Mr. George thinks the trouble on plantations stand in the way of plantation development and confidence is being destroyed among investors.
George John, Kuttical Estate. Mr. George John is the Secretary of the Mundakayam Planters' Association, the most important rubber distinct in Kerala. There are over 1,000,000 acres of rubber in this area. This young planter believes that rowdism can be checked if police is allowed to act under the Law.
Mr. O.C. Mathew and Chacko:- Mr. Mathew is the Secretary of the Association of Planters of Travancore, the association representing planters throughout Kerala. Here he is talking to an official of the UPASI. According to him tension continues on the Estates and if no outbreak of violence occurs, it is only because the employers do not exercise their rights. On the way to the tea districts in Peeramde a local former occupying 3 acre hillside explains his difficulty. He says the workers are always right. They can walk in and take in anything they want and nothing can be done; the police will not interfere or act on a complaint from an owner. Almost the same story came through from estate managers, large and small.
Here is Mr. Lodge walking in his garden perched on the top of a hill overlooking the workers colony built by him. We went down to his workers' colony. He gets on quite well with the workers provided the agitators are not present. On Mr. Lodge's estate there have been a series of fights over the last two months, holligans walking in and coming down workers of opposite unions in an effort to force the docile workers into their unions. Mr. Lodge, one of those planters after about 38 years of service, is leaving the country and he feels that things will settle down after a while once the police is allowed to function without interference from above.
Line of Cartmen. The route from perivar Lake to Munnar Headquarters of the famous Kanan Dewan Planters' Association lies through a highland of about 3,000 ft. for a distance of over 70 miles. The road cut through this hinterland running North-South is called the Cardamon Road, the area has the largest concentration of cardamon cultivation in the world. The transport methods among the cast number of settlers in this area are still primitive and the picturesque country carts are the principal means of transport. Convoys of carts move up and down during the down the road during the day and herd of elephants from the neighbouring jungles during the night. Traffic comes to a stop at night.
MANNAR. In tea plantation women from 50% of the labour force and here is a group of pluckers in the fields. The Munnar township was created by the Company, planting began there at about 6,000 ft. Within site of Anai Mudi the highest peak south of Himalayas during the 70s of the last century. The turner brothers who founded the original partnership were taken over by the James Finlay group and during the past 60 years this company has been holding about 212 s. miles of concession land of which about 36,000 acres have been brought under tea. By the building up of this industry about 60,000 people have been brought into the area and Munnar town was sited in the valley overlooked by the Company's Headquarters office. The Indian staff members have a club of their own and the Company's Managers having what is known as the High Range Club with its broad lawns of Gold course. Neat rows of teas appear on all sides and most of the estates sit in the valley when looked upon from the heights, each garden with its own factory and workers settlements and not far away the bungalows of the Managers on the hill tops. To keep order in this large area with a population of over 60,000 there are 20 policemen.
Mr. W. W. Mayne. Mr. Mayne, the General Manager of the Company is a scientist by profession and background and he heads the biggest of the planting companies in South India. His view is that the situation can be straightened out provided the police is not hampered from doing their jobs without political considerations. Mr. Mayne could not be filmed. After meeting Mr. Chacko he went out-of-station.