Kerala and the Gulf Connection

This morning, I decided to order breakfast from my usual take-away restaurant…

Had a late night… and I thought, what the hell…why not?

He politely asked me the route and I told him…”Just send it with Prashanth”…. He knows the place!

The usual reply came from the other end…Sir, he has let for the Gulf (or Gelf in local parlance!).

What can I say…? I am happy for him, and courteously told the directions to the new guy, who made it as instructed!

With a full stomach, all I can say that the Gulf is the ultimate destination of Mallus or Malayalees.

Of course, with the burst of techie onto the scene, these news kids on the block are now traveling all over Europe, US and the rest. So, they really don’t need the Gulf as most of them get a fancy package back home. Despite that, the lure is still there…

Having spent a few years there myself, I cannot be critical of the Gulf or the Middle East… It gave me the initial financial platform while in my early twenties, after which I left the place. It wasn’t long that I blew up my entire savings…and that too before thirty! Only a Mallu can do that!

Easy come, easy go… that’s another story, which we will leave for another day!

Anyway, the Gelf, is like a home away from home for the Mallu.

Incidentally, why do the people from Kerala go to the Gulf?

Apart from the status symbol within the family, easy money, and perhaps increased value in the matrimonial market. But most people who go there… stick there, if they get a decent job, save, get married, take their relatives, perhaps start a small side-business…and so the story goes.

At one stage, it was believed that it wouldn’t be long before the Gulf has more people from Kerala than the natives.

But that is no longer true…Gulf is no more an exclusive or privy place of the Mallu.

What Keralites must realize that the Gulf has opened up, and there are over 2.8 Million INDIANS, now living in the UAE alone and which make up 27.1% of the UAE’s total population.

Although there are about 2.5 Million people from Kerala working/ living throughout the Middle East (this includes UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and the others), this seems to be slowly reducing.

Contrary to the popular perception, the figures show that Kerala and other Southern states are no longer the top draw for manpower agencies in the Gulf for blue-collar jobs.

“UP and Bihar have overtaken Kerala and Tamil Nadu. You can see the figures below —30% of our emigrants are going out of UP, 15% Bihar, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal—Kerala is only 6% now. So, this is the trend,” said M.C. Luther, the Protector General of Emigrants, adding that these numbers showed the pattern in 2016-17.

In the last two years, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab, and Rajasthan have been the top six States sending people to the Gulf. In this period, emigration from India increased by 24 per cent.

And, as per statistics, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar send more migrant labourers to the Gulf, reversing trends seen in the decades earlier.


The Mallu is no more interested in a labourer job…as he can get a well-paid labourer job in Kerala. So why go the Gelf?

Things have also changed within Kerala…. The state is home to 2.5 Million domestic migrants, which makes up about 7% of Kerala’s total population.

These guys remitted about ₹ 17,000 crores back home in the fiscal 2014…

And they call Kerala a poor man’s retreat!

However, the craze for migration to the Gulf is becoming less due to the newer destinations, which the Malayalees have hunted down.

Anyway, for the records, around 2.25 million people from Kerala have migrated to FOREIGN NATIONS (not the Gulf alone) in 2016, a drop of 154,320 from 2014, as per the initial draft of a survey conducted by Centre for Development Studies (CDS), based in Thiruvananthapuram…

If not the Gulf, the Mallu will always find some other place!

Regardless to say, the Gulf continues to be a dream destination for the people from Kerala.


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