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IMPACT OF MIGRATION ON KERALA'S ECONOMY AND SOCIETY

By: Zachariah, KC Mathew, ET and Irudaya Rajan, S.
Publisher: 1999; Centre for Development Studies-WP297 Online resources: Click here to access online Summary: This research is first of its kind for Kerala, being the first migration study that covers the entire state and encompasses both measurement as well as analysis of the various types and facets of migration. Migration has been the single-most dynamic factor in the otherwise dreary development scenario of Kerala in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Kerala is approaching the end of the millennium with a little cheer in many people's homes, a major contributing factor for which has been migration. Migration has contributed more to poverty alleviation in Kerala than any other factor, including agrarian reforms, trade union activities and social welfare legislation. The study shows that nearly 1.5 million Keralites now live outside India. They send home more than Rs.4,000 million a year by way of remittances. Three-quarters of a million former emigrants have come back. They live mostly on savings, work experience, and skills brought with them from abroad. More than a million families depend on internal migrants'earnings for subsistence, children's education and other economic requirements. Whereas the educationally backward Muslims from the rissur-Malappuram region provide the backbone of emigration, it is the educationally forward Ezhawas, Nairs and Syrian Christians from the former Travancore-Cochin State who form the core of internal migration. The paper also analyses the determinants and consequences of internal and external migration. It offers suggestions for policy formulation for the optimum utilization of remittances sent home by the emigrants and the expertise brought back by the return migrants. Migration in Kerala began with demographic expansion, but it won't end with demographic contraction. Kerala has still time to develop itself into an internally self-sustaining economy. The prevailing cultural milieu of Kerala in which its people believe that anything can be achieved through agitation and any rule can be circumvented with proper political connections, must change and be replaced by a liberalised open economy with strict and definite rules of the game.
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This research is first of its kind for Kerala, being the first migration study that covers the entire state and encompasses both measurement as well as analysis of the various types and facets of migration. Migration has been the single-most dynamic factor in the otherwise dreary development scenario of Kerala in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Kerala is approaching the end of the millennium with a little cheer in many people's homes, a major contributing factor for which has been migration. Migration has contributed more to poverty alleviation in Kerala than any other factor, including agrarian reforms, trade union activities and social welfare legislation. The study shows that nearly 1.5 million Keralites now live outside India. They send home more than Rs.4,000 million a year by way of remittances. Three-quarters of a million former emigrants have come back. They live mostly on savings, work experience, and skills brought with them from abroad. More than a million families depend on internal migrants'earnings for subsistence, children's education and other economic requirements. Whereas the educationally backward Muslims from the rissur-Malappuram region provide the backbone of emigration, it is the educationally forward Ezhawas, Nairs and Syrian Christians from the former Travancore-Cochin State who form the core of internal migration. The paper also analyses the determinants and consequences of internal and external migration. It offers suggestions for policy formulation for the optimum utilization of remittances sent home by the emigrants and the expertise brought back by the return migrants. Migration in Kerala began with demographic expansion, but it won't end with demographic contraction. Kerala has still time to develop itself into an internally self-sustaining economy. The prevailing cultural milieu of Kerala in which its people believe that anything can be achieved through agitation and any rule can be circumvented with proper political connections, must change and be replaced by a liberalised open economy with strict and definite rules of the game.

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