Kerala's Gulf Connection
7 May, 2005
Statistics obtained from the Economic Review for 2004, presented by the government in the State Assembly reveal that the number of emigrants from Kerala to Gulf countries went up by 35 per cent in the preceding 5 years. Remittances by Keralites in Gulf also went up by a 35 per cent in the same period, according to the review , which cited a study conducted by the Centre for Development Studies.
The number of Keralaites in Gulf went up from 1.36 million in 1999 to 1.84 million in 2004. Remittances, which totaled Rs 136.52 billion in 1999, went up to 184.65 billion in 2004.
The Muslim majority backward Malappuram district has the largest number of emigrants, though its share has fallen in the five years. In 1999, Malappuram accounted for 2,96,710 out of a total of 1,361, 955 emigrants. Thrissur came second with 1,61,102 emigrants and Thriuvananthapuram came third with 1,30,705.
In 2004, Malappuram retained the Noone slot though its numbers fell. Out of a total 1,838,478 emigrants, Malappuram accounted for 2,71,787. Thrissur retained the no 2 slot with a marginal rise to 1,78,867 and Thiruvananthapuram was pushed to the fourth slot by Palakkad, which accounted for 177,876. Thiruvananthapuramís number of emigrants rose to 1,68,046.
In case of foreign remittances, Thrissur, which received Rs.32.34 billion in 2004, was the largest beneficiary of foreign remittances. Malappuram came second with Rs28.92 billion and Thiruvananthapuram followed with Rs19.27 billion. Total remittances by the emigrants were seven times what the State government received from the centre as budgetary support.
Of the emigrants, 43.7 per cent were Muslims, 31.2 per cent Hindus and 25.1 per cent Christians. While the rate of growth in migration among Christians was 53.9 per cent, that among Muslims was only 17.3 per cent. There was a spurt in female migration. Women accounted for 16.85 per cent of the emigrants in 2004 as against only about nine per cent in 1999.
In 1995 the Gulf countries had accounted for nearly 95 per cent of the emigration from Kerala, while it has dropped to about 90%. This has coincided with an increase in emigration to US, Europe and Africa from 5% to 10%. But the United Arab Emirates still remains the most preferred destination of Keralites.