Philip Gain

Philip Gain is researcher and director of Society for Environment and Human Development (SEHD). He has been reporting, writing and filming on Modhupur sal forest and its people since 1986.

How forestry projects destroy forests

Though eucalyptus was eradicated from the public forest land, social forestry continues at a very high cost to natural ecosystems.

1w ago

Why do women in tea gardens face higher reproductive health risks?

Women in the tea gardens suffer from a host of reproductive and health issues, which remain unaddressed.

3w ago

No justice in paying tea workers’ arrears

The owners’ fickleness about signing of the agreement has come as a big shock to tea garden workers.

Expand social protection in the new year

The government has a huge task ahead in terms of making its social security programmes effective.

Tea workers’ strike ends. What’s next?

Tea workers may not have had their demands fulfilled, but their united voice brings in a new era of workers' rights.

Fairer wages, or more broken promises for tea workers?

In the best interests of the tea sector, tea garden owners and government functionaries should promote true trade unionism.

Why are the tea workers on strike?

It is the responsibility of the government to ensure justice and protection for tea workers

Ending deforestation by 2030: An empty promise?

Bangladesh is amazingly green. Yet, historically, our natural forests have always been limited. In 2000, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics estimated our total forest area to be 2.6 million hectares.

Why do we need an artificial lake in Modhupur forest?

A beautiful baid may soon turn into a little artificial lake in Modhupur forest area. Baid is low land to grow rice and other crops in, between chala (high) land with sal stands.

The strong women of tea gardens

It was midday on October 6, 2018. A woman was sitting under a mahogany tree at Sreemangal Upazila Health Complex in Moulvibazar. Another woman was holding a newborn wrapped in a blanket.

Will the tea workers get the wages they deserve?

An unthinkable and deplorable situation has risen out of the rigid position taken by the Minimum Wage Board (MWB) that was formed to fix the minimum wage for the hapless tea workers of Bangladesh.

Tea workers routinely ignored during the Covid-19 pandemic

Paban Paul, 38, a tea worker of Rampur Tea Garden in Bahubal upazila (Habiganj district), died of Covid-19 on July 6. Rampur Tea Garden is a furi (division) of Rashidpur Tea Estate, owned by Finlay Tea Co. Ltd.

An autopsy of the tea workers’ bizarre wage structure

The Minimum Wage Board (MWB), formed in October 2019, declared a draft wage structure for tea garden workers through a gazette notice published on June 13, 2021.

Modhupur forest: The sylvan aroma is gone

Once a pure jungle, Modhupur sal forest is now, for the most part, a motley assortment of vast banana, pineapple and spice orchards.

Time to pay just wages to tea workers

Ratan Shadhu (56), a tea worker from Doloi Tea Garden in Moulvibazar district, earns a daily cash wage of Tk 102 (USD 1.2).

The indigenous communities of the plains need urgent social protection

The indigenous communities of the plains of Bangladesh, including those in the tea gardens, are excluded and marginalised for their identity, occupations, casteism, culture, geographical locations, and various other reasons.

Why are tea workers out of the ambit of labour law?

The tea plantation workers (TPWs) in some 60 tea gardens in Sylhet stopped work for a day or two in the beginning of the countrywide lockdown.

No one, nowhere, should go hungry or die without care

The coronavirus has affected us all—rich and poor alike. Yet, giving attention and care to communities considered excluded, marginalised and invisible should be a priority for the state and well-to-dos.

Coronavirus threat: Tea workers’ say no to work

The tea workers of Shamshernagar Tea Garden in Kamalganj upazila, Moulvibazar, took matters into their own hands in defiance of the garden management and stopped work from March 27.

Among Garo and Khasis, women decide who gets what

Purna Chisik and Satendra Nokrek have four daughters—Francila, Malita, Nomita and Malina—and two sons—Parmel and Sebastin.

The story of a floating people

14 Bede families have set up their oval-shaped makeshift tents on private land in Natun Torki, a village in Kalkini Upazila of Madaripur district. A branch of the Arialkha river flows on the west of Natun Torki. The area is well-known in Barishal for Torki Bandar, a narrow but flowing river on the west. The Bede huts are just on the outskirts of the crowded Natun Torki market.

The environmental sacrifice

We stand in the middle of Rohingya Camp No. 18. It is in the southwest of Kutupalong Rohingya camp cluster in Ukhia upazila of Cox's Bazar district. We are stunned.

Elections in tea gardens and the larger issues of tea workers

Election of Bangladesh Cha Sramik Union (BCSU) on June 24 was a joyous occasion for tea workers. BCSU happens to be the largest trade union in Bangladesh. And it is the only union for the 97,646 voters who are all registered workers in 161 tea gardens in Sylhet, Maulvibazar, Habiganj, Chattogram and Rangamati Hill District. The recent election was the third time since 1948 that the impoverished tea workers had voted for their leaders.


Sicilia Snal, aged 25 in 2006, was shot when she went to collect firewood in the forest near her village. Sicilia is a Garo woman of Uttar Rasulpur, in Madhupur sal forest area. It was early in the morning of August 21, 2006, that Sicilia went to collect firewood with a few other Garo women. On their way back, they put down their loads to take rest for a while. All of a sudden, to their great surprise, the forest guards fired shots from their guns. Sicilia was hit. She fell to the ground, unconscious and bleeding. Terrified all but one woman fled.

Dinesh Nokrek - The Last of Sangsarek

Dinesh Nokrek, in his nineties, is a Garo kamal in Dharati village of Madhupur forest in Tangail. In Garo society, kamal signifies a priest in the traditional Garo religion of Sangsarek—a vanishing tradition, as almost all Garo people have by now converted to Christianity. Nokrek, who often likes to announce that he is a hundred years old, is a kabiraj (village doctor) as well.

The man with 100 forest cases... and why he claims he is innocent

Hssan Ali appeared at Tangail Forest Court on January 4, 2018 to take bail in a 'forest case' (no. 405) that was filed in 1998 for felling of trees. He had been charged in absentia on December 27, 2017. The court issued a warrant of arrest. On January 4, he secured a bail to stay out of jail.