KOCHI: For some Keralites, the grass has gotten less greener on the other side. At least this is what the Kerala Migration Survey (KMS)-2016 data reveals.
Perhaps for the first time in five decades since the 1970s, emigration from Kerala dwindled, albeit just a little, say the KMS findings.
The Centre for Development Studies (CDS) conducted the survey which said there were 22.4 lakh Keralites across the globe in 2016, down from 24 lakh in 2014. As per the report, this was the first-ever dip in the number of migrating Keralites since CDS started conducting the KMS in 1998. Among the districts, Thrissur saw the steepest decline with 75,335 emigrants, followed by Ernakulam with 71,740.
“Kerala’s demographic structure is changing and we are at the receiving end of the demographic dividend. Indian migration to Gulf countries will continue. But, workers of Kerala will be replaced by workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Wages have come down in the Gulf after the global crisis. This will no longer attract fresh Kerala emigrants as they have to compete with labourers from other states,” said Chair Professor in the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs S Irudaya Rajan.
The decline in emigration will hit remittances, the backbone of the state’s economy. KMS showed remittances reduced to Rs 63,289 crore in 2016 from a whopping Rs 71,142 crore in 2014. “The decline may continue in the coming years. This will socio-economically affect the state, which depends heavily on remittances from the expatriates,” the survey revealed.
The first KMS of 1998 showed the state had 13.6 lakh emigrants. This rose to 18.3 lakh in 2003, 21.9 lakh in 2008, 22.8 lakh in 2011 and 24 lakh in 2014. The remittance was Rs 13,652 crore in 1998.
Gulf region favoured most
The Gulf region was the favourite destination for Keralites with 89.1 per cent of the total emigrants from the state living in the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries. These included 40.3 per cent emigrants in the UAE, 23.9 per cent in Saudi Arabia, 8.6 per cent in Qatar, 7.7 per cent in Oman, 4.9 per cent in Kuwait and 3.7 per cent in Bahrain. Outside the Gulf, the emigrants were found mostly scattered in the United States (4.2 per cent), the United Kingdom (1.6 per cent), Canada (1.2 per cent), Australia (0.7 per cent) and Singapore (0.5 per cent).