In early November 2003, a group of women workers at New Dooars Tea Estate in the Dooars plantation belt of North Bengal, India, tell me about fellow workers dying of hunger in the neighboring plantation, Kathalguri. They describe conditions of horrifying deprivation: of children with distended bellies; women, eyes hollow with a madness that only continuous hunger can bring; men lurching

around begging for some rice before collapsing to die. They also tell me of their attempts at providing relief from their own meager stock of staple cereals-sending a few sacks of rice collected from households in their plantation where, mercifully, there is still paid work.