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7. Innovation

A monitoring tool that is used in India specifically is that of exposures, which have been used again on various levels of the tea chain: the trained women leaders of tea gardens, the STGs, and the program staff. Exposure visits have been organized for the partners and stakeholders to sectors other than tea. It was remarkable to note the initiation of the labor fund system by the STG group after looking at the benefits of such a fund in the stone sector in Rajasthan.

The program with its focus on responsible business behavior for STGs is a maiden and therefore unique program in Assam. Although development agencies have been working with the large tea plantation and its workers, the Alliance is the first program which has realized the immense challenges of human rights, labor conditions and child rights violations in the STGs and bundled this under the denominator of responsible business behavior in the tea sector. The innovation lies in the approach where the challenges are being addressed as a matter of responsible business conduct in a process of dialogue and dissent.

We follow a twin track approach where the focus is on both the STGs and the tea garden laborers benefits. Effort is to create a win–win situation, where the STGs agree to adapt themselves to responsible business practices along with realizing the potential growth and quality improvement in their own businesses.

Evidence of good practices in social and economic sides are being created at the grassroots level and being promoted and presented to the communities, government authorities and corporates that ‘change is possible’ and needs to be replicated and scaled up (evidence based lobby and advocacy).

Another innovative approach in this region is to create a platform for policy level dialogue and dissent amongst various stakeholders to communicate issues and try to find common solutions. These types of collaborations are taken as a key to generate solutions. Civic Engagement Alliance develops partnerships with like-minded organizations which can play complementary roles to this huge cause.

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