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From 80% to 55%: Why emigration from Kerala to Middle East is dipping

A large population of Kerala lives outside the country, in the Gulf region, the US, Europe and other countries around the world. For over three decades there has been a steady emigration from the state to countries in the Gulf. But, that's not the case anymore.

Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed said that emigration from Kerala to the Middle East countries has come down significantly.

 From 80% to 55%: Why emigration from Kerala to Middle East is dipping


"These are disturbing trends and we have to take cognizance of this. Keralites led from the front and constituted as high as 80 percent of all emigration to the Middle East during the 1970s," said Ahamed at the Kerala session at the 11th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas.

"This figure has started to come down and of late it stands at 55 percent," he said.

A survey 'Migration and Development: Kerala Experience', S Irudaya Rajan, K C Zacharia by the Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum, points out that there are around 2.27-3 million non-resident workers from Kerala in the Gulf region. The proportion of migrant workers to the Gulf dropped from 95 percent in 1998 to 89 percent in 2007.

But why is the emigration rate dropping?

Researchers say it could be because of the increasing demand for skilled labour in the Gulf countries. Kerala is on the threshold of a transition, and the consequences (positive and negative) of migration will play an important role in shaping the state's future. A remittance-based and largely service sector-oriented growth process, which was earlier suitable, does not seem to be sustainable for Kerala now.

"The Kerala government has to look beyond the industrial training institutes and polytechnics because the Middle East countries want skilled labour... This is a cause for concern, and there is need for the government of Kerala to look beyond the ITI-polytechnic formula to reverse this trend," said Ahamed.

He added that more number of people are going to the Middle East from other southern states and also from other states in the country.

"Unskilled workers from Kerala are now getting replaced by English-speaking people from the Philippines," said the minister. He, however, pointed out that the biggest positive about Keralites is that the employers in the Middle-East consider them trustworthy.

With inputs from IANS

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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 15:09:34 IST