Monday, January 19, 2009

Kerala braces for return migration from the Gulf

The Indian state of Kerala is bracing for return migration due to the global slowdown that has hit the Gulf economies. So reports Free Exchange:
THE lush state of Kerala in the south of India generates most of its foreign exchange either by exporting people or importing them. It earned almost 20 billion rupees ($500m) from foreign tourists in 2006 (the latest year for which figures are available) and about 245 billion (in the same year) in remittances from Keralites working abroad, 89% of whom go to the Gulf.

The state has an astonishing 24.5 emigrants per 100 households. Kerala’s per capita output is one of the lowest in India, but its per capita expenditure is one of the highest. (Gopinath Pillai, a Singaporean diplomat of Keralite descent, describes the situation like this: one poor fellow works three shifts in Dubai, saving every penny to send home, where there will be eight guys reading two newspapers a day and discussing politics.)
But the Gulf economies where most of these NRKs work are slowing. Some construction projects are on hold. As a result, Kerala may have to brace itself for a wave of reverse migration. At the recent Indian diaspora conference in Chennai, several speakers called on the government to set up a department for returnees.
If any place is a sweatshop, the Gulf is one. You'll notice the irony. Kerala loses when there are fewer opportunities in the sweatshop.

Carpe Diem has a recent roundup, "In Praise of Sweatshops." Don't forget this golden oldie also titled In Praise of Sweatshops. This, too.

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Anonymous Doseman said...

Another point to be noted: Political ideology in the state is overwhelmingly communist. Which could be another reason why nobody sets up any industry there

Copying a joke I found on the link you referenced, relating to Kerala's low per capita output:

"An elderly real estate businessman and his young protege are standing on top of a ridge overlooking a vast valley of undeveloped land. The businessman says, 'Stick with me kid, and someday that will all be mine.'"

Being a Keralite myself, I must admit Gopinath Pillai could'nt have put it better. Hopefully this kind of pointless social benevolence will come to an end with my generation...the saddest part is that the money being sent is always taken for granted and the hard work involved never appreciated..

2:22 PM  

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