I have to admit that in the form of leadership, women were few and far between on my journey in India. Women are of course an integral part of the tea industry, but the people running the factories and tea estates we visited, were all men. Until of course we got to Harishpur in Assam and met Suparna Bagchi. To say that Ms Bagchi operates Harishpur by herself would not be telling the whole truth. Her cousin, Sumit is an integral part of developing the business aspects. But if you ever doubt the fact that a business can have a beating heart and a glowing soul, then you must visit the tea estate in Assam.
Suparna Bagchi took over the estate when her father passed away. The presence of her mother and father and the impact they have clearly had on the woman she is today can be seen in the many photographs of both throughout the grounds. Nothing however is more powerful than hearing Ms Bagchi speak of ‘her’ gardens, her ‘workers’, ‘her’ plants. She climbs into her Jeep every day and drives throughout the estate stopping to pluck with her workers. Yes – she plucks tea with her workers. And when she isn’t able to be out in the gardens for a few days, her workers start asking after her and worrying about what has kept her away.
Harishpur not only creates beautiful teas, the golden tips being teagirl’s favourite, but they have developed and entire community that continues to give back. From the primary school to the hospital to the community centre; and yes, even to the Keya Bagchi Foundation dedicated to her mother. The foundation organises local women and teaches them to weave and craft selling their goods then back into the community. Believe it or not…teagirl did try her hand at the loom and has decided to stick with tea instead!
As a woman, I take great energy from women, and there is truly only one word I can use to describe Suparna Bagchi – FIERCE! She is determined and strong, she is focused and dedicated. She is the beating heart and glowing soul of this tea estate.