Non-resident Indians (NRIs): Kerala

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The Malayali population outside India


The Malayali population outside India, 2018
From: Shenoy Karun, March 11, 2019: The Times of India

See graphic:

The Malayali population outside India, 2018

NRI deposits in Kerala


The Times of India, Jun 7, 2015

Viju B

Remittances by NRIs to Kerala cross Rs 1 lakh crore

Everyone knows about the large-scale migration of Malayalis to the Gulf region and the significant role their remittances have played in Kerala's economy. But here's a really big piece of news: NRI deposits in Kerala have now crossed the magic mark of Rs 1 lakh crore, soaring by more than 17% from Rs 93,884 crore to Rs 1.1 crore (at the end of 2014-15) in the space of just one year, according to data collected by the state level bankers committee (SLBC). This includes money from all parts of the world.

What's noteworthy is that the growth has come in spite of an uncertain job scenario in West Asia, especially in Saudi Arabia, which has been trying to replace foreign workers with its own.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data shows that there was a little over $115 billion in NRI accounts in India, which is about Rs 7 lakh crore. Kerala, thus accounts for roughly a sixth of all the money deposited in NRI accounts.

India is the largest recipient of remittance flows in the world receiving about $70 billion (roughly Rs 4.2 lakh crore) from this source in 2014, according to World Bank data.

A Kerala government survey showed that remittances sent by the diaspora support at least 50 lakh people in the state, which has a population of 3.15 crore.

The Muslim-dominated Malappuram district has the highest number of people living off remittances, around 2.9 lakh. Around 58,500 women from Kerala today work as nurses and Kottayam district has the maximum number of women working abroad.

State government data shows that of the 16.3 lakh non-resident Keralites (the Centre for Development Studies puts the figure at a much higher 24 lakh), 88% live in West Asia. The maximum number of Keralites, around 5.73 lakh, reside in the UAE and around 4.50 lakh in Saudi Arabia. Many have been migrating to the US and Europe in the last decade thanks to the boom in infotech and fast-growing opportunities in healthcare.

The same government data shows that in the US, there are over 78,000 Keralites, while in Europe there are nearly 53,000. Canada has close to 10,000 Keralites. Families have also migrated to the Africa with nearly 7,000 Keralites residing in different parts of the continent.

Kerala's NRIs seem to prefer public sector banks to private sector banks when depositing their money. NRI deposits in public sector banks total Rs 64,700 crore, compared to Rs 44, 900 crore in the private sector banks.

The exodus began in the early seventies with the Gulf boom when unemployment rates touched an all-time high with youngsters, though highly literate, having to migrate in search of semi-skilled jobs. Since then there has been no looking back.

Remittances from the Gulf region are still a key growth engine for the state, which has seen agriculture in decline till recently and negligible growth in manufacturing while neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have surged ahead.

Experts say these huge NRI deposits should be used for productive activities like infrastructure development. "The government should float NRI bonds with attractive interest rates so that money does not flow into the hands of private financial groups, which are making huge profits while infrastructure projects in the state are in limbo due to lack of funds, Dr Mary George, a former member of the public review expenditure committee, said.

See also

Indians in the Gulf

Migration: India

Migration: South Asia

Non-resident Indians (NRIs): Kerala

Remittances: South Asia

Indians in the Gulf

Patkuri Basanth Reddy

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