Emigration, remittances in Kerala not hit by meltdown: Study


The number of emigrants increased by 19 per cent to 21.9 lakhs from 18.4 lakhs while the remittance amount grew by 135 per cent from Rs 18,400 crores to Rs 43,300 crores between 2003-08, Migration and Monitoring Study (MMS) 2008 by Centre for Development Studies here revealed.

The study also indicated that the global crisis has partly contributed to acceleration in remittances in the case of Kerala.

Gulf continued to be the preferred destination as the proportion of Kerala emigrants in the region remained constant at 89 per cent in 2008 as in 2003.

According to the study, increase in crude oil price from USD 50 a barrel to USD 140 a barrel that pushed construction activities in the Gulf region between 2003-08, rise in exchange value of US dollar and Gulf were some of the factors that led to the increased remittances.

Even though emigration and remittances continued to remain the single most dynamic factor in the improved economic scenario of Kerala, one striking aspect was that the proportion of households with an emigrant and that has received remittances from abroad remained static at about 16-18 per cent.

This proportion has not seen a change since 1998 and points to the fact that nearly 80 per cent of Kerala households were still not direct participants of development that was transforming Kerala's economy and society.

It was for the policy makers and planners to take up the challenge broadening the share of households of this 'Kerala Gulf connection', the study said.

Another important aspect was that the number of return emigrants also increased from 8.9 lakhs in 2003 to 11.6 lakhs in 2008 and as a result, the number of NRKs increased from 27.3 lakhs in 2003 to 33.5 lakhs in 2008.

In 2008, corresponding to every 100 households in Kerala, there were 29 emigrants, 15 return emigrants and 44 NRKs.

Inflow of about Rs 43,288 crores to Kerala economy by way of remittances has had a very significant effect on the state's economy and the living condition, the study said.
But, there is a flip side to this rosy picture as well. There was an increased regional disparity as all households did not directly benefit from remittances.

On the basis of religion, Muslim community continues to retain its hold on emigration from Kerala. More than 40 per cent of the emigrants from the state were Muslims, followed by Hindus 37.7 per cent and Christians 21.2 per cent.

However, the study revealed that there was an increase of 44 per cent among the Hindus during 2003-08. "Thus the Hindus in Kerala are catching up in external migration. Until now, their dominance was in the internal migration (to other cities)", the study said.

Another aspect of internal migration in recent years was the increase in migration of students, the study said. In 2008, students going out for education accounted for the highest number of out-migrants from Kerala with 2,41,000 out of total 9,14,000 persons.

Forty per cent of the students went to Karnataka, followed by 24 per cent to Tamil Nadu. About 2.4 per cent went to far off states like the Jammu and Kashmir.

CDS that also monitored the employment situation in the state found that there was a drastic decline in unemployment rate in Kerala since 2003.

There were only 7.87 lakhs unemployed persons in the state in 2008, compared to 22.9 lakhs in 2003.

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