No exodus from Middle East to Kerala: Study

February 25th, 2009 - 4:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 25 (IANS) Contrary to media reports, there has been no “exodus” of the diaspora from the Middle East to India, and remittances are not falling, says the Centre for Development Studies.
This was found in a survey the respected Thiruvananthapuram-based think tank conducted among 15,000 households at 300 locations in Kerala between June and December 2008, said S. Irudayarajan, head of its Migration Research Unit.

“We did the first study in 1997 and there were 600,000 returnees that year. It went up to 700,000 in 2003 and in 2007 it was 800,000,” Irudayarajan told IANS, adding: “This figure could possibly touch 900,000 this year. Is this what the media calls an exodus? There is nothing to be panicky at all.”

Irudayarajan, who was part of a CDS study team that submitted its report on the global financial crisis to the Kerala government last month, said the remittance flow was also not affected.

“The remittances in 2007 was Rs.24,526 crore (Rs.245.26 billion). This went up to Rs.30,122 crore (Rs.301.22 billion) in 2008 and we have estimated it to touch Rs.38,492 crore (Rs.384.92 billion) in 2009,” he said.

The survey report, which is in the final stages of preparation, would be submitted to the non-resident Keralites affairs department of the state government, which is funding the study.

Irudayarajan, however, admitted that he has been getting calls from several quarters, asking about the condition of the labourers from Kerala in the Gulf countries in the wake of the economic meltdown.

According to him, if Keralites are returning home, that is “brain gain”, not exodus.

“I was in a Middle East country recently and visited labour camps. The salary levels in there have not gone up in the past four years,” said Irudayarajan, adding: “Now, at the lowest category level, labourers earn more here in Kerala. So a reverse migration could be called a brain gain.”

He added that he would make another visit to the Gulf to assess the actual situation of the workers.

As per the 2007 study, the United Arab Emirates accounts for 42 percent of the total Kerala diaspora, followed by Saudi Arabia with 24 percent.

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