Kottayam: Popular belief about Kerala's finance sector is that the state always tops in sending the maximum number of people overseas for jobs. While the assumption keeps hopes of an ever-increasing foreign remittances alive, latest statistics coming out just shatters the myth as the southern state is nowhere in the picture when it comes to top states sending people to the Gulf.
Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab and Rajasthan have been the top six states sending people to the Gulf in the past two years, as per statistics released by the External Affairs Ministry. Notably, in this period, emigration from India increased by 24 per cent.
The data released during a session on ‘Managing the Emigration Cycle: Streamlining and Supporting Indian Workers’ Emigration to ECR countries’ at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Bengaluru show that the six states led the list from 2013 to 2015. And 90 per cent of the emigration was to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
There are 8.54 million workers in 17 emigration check required (ECR) countries across the world and they remit $69 billion annually, which constitutes 3 per cent of the GDP. MEA statistics show that 40 percent of the total remittances come from the GCC countries.
Kerala received 40 percent of the total remittances that came to India in the third quarter of 2015-16, according to a news report.
Remittances, an outcome of the Gulf boom of the 1970s, continues to be the backbone of Kerala's economy with it financing as many as 20% Kerala households, or 2.4 million families. It is yet to be seen how the drop in the number of emigrants is going to affect the state's economy.
Aiming to facilitate better living conditions for the diaspora, the foreign affairs ministry has asked states to set up an NRI department to protect the interests of their citizens.
Addressing media here, minister of state for external affairs Gen. (retd.) V.K. Singh said that an e-migrate system had been operational for the past 18 months. The system records details of those going to ECR countries. However, the minister said the data will remain incomplete as a large number of people go through devious routes. “Neither we nor our consulates know about them. Till the time they get into trouble, they do not approach us. We are addressing the lacunae,” he said.
The government is all set to sign deals with GCC nations to prevent human trafficking. Over the next four months, India will be signing deals with GCC nations to prevent human trafficking.