New matrix for Kerala emigrants
By Arun Jayan | ENS - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM
18th July 2012 08:33 AM
This may well be the beginning of the end for Kerala’s very special relationship with Gulf countries, where thousands of grocery and cafeteria assistants as also other menial workers invariably used to be from God’s Own Country. With most of the emigration centres in the state experiencing a slow but sure decline, it could be interpreted that the non-resident Keralite is coming of age as he is moving out of the unskilled category.
Add to this the increasing competition from states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where emigration of ECR passport holders is showing a steady rise and Kerala’s tryst with the Gulf countries may no longer be the unique model that it was all these years.
The Centre for Development Studies (CDS) report throws light on a few emerging factors contributing to this situation. These include increase in wages in Kerala compared to what the Gulf countries offer, a drying up of the supply line of young workers and increasing cost of emigration from Kerala.
The number of emigrants from Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Thrissur, and Palakkad districts was fewer in 2011 than in 2008. In seven out of the 14 districts, including Malappuram, the number of emigrants per household was fewer in 2011 than in 2008.
“The number of ECR passport holders from Kerala reached its maximum in 2008 at 21.3 per cent. It dropped to 16.1 per cent by 2010 and is likely to decline further,” said S Irudaya Rajan, chair professor, CDS.
“The average wage among unskilled workers in Kerala has increased from Rs150 to over Rs 450. There has been no corresponding rise in wages in the Gulf countries; in fact, it may have even decreased during the depression years,” Rajan said.
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