Kerala Gulf diaspora
|2.5 million (est.)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Islam, Christianity, Hinduism|
The Gulf Boom
The Gulf Boom refers to the mass migration of a large number of people from the Indian state of Kerala to the Gulf Countries from 1972 to 1983. Largely consisting of the migration of Malayalis, the dominant indigenous ethnic group in Kerala, the movement of many migrant workers from Kerala to the Gulf Countries continues to the present day, although in smaller numbers after the 2008 international financial crisis began to affect the Gulf region. This initial wave of migration is usually referred to as the Kerala Gulf Boom. The Kerala migrants are usually laborers and low-skilled workers. In 2008, the Gulf countries contained a total Keralite population of more than 2.5 million, who annually sent home a sum of around $ 6.81 billion (US), which is more than 15.13% of the total Remittance to India in 2008. In 2013 the remittance was more the 60,000 crore rupees.
Huge Oil reserves were discovered in the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf region in the 1930s, with large-scale commercial extraction beginning in the early 1950s. Soon, these countries became major world oil-exporting countries, amassing huge riches within a matter of years, a feat that perhaps has no historical parallel. However, these nations were handicapped by small populations and labour forces, with commensurately small skills levels. To meet the challenge they faced, they had to substantially increase immigration at all levels. India, which faced very high unemployment rates, quickly saw the opportunity for its citizens to gain a share of the new work opportunities, with manual workers from Kerala at the forefront. Historical ties and the religious identity of Indian Muslims in particular, helped to forge a bond with Gulf Countries.
Effects of the Gulf Migration on the Economy and Society of Kerala
Remittances are a key source of income for Kerala's economy. In 2003 for instance, remittances were 1.74 times the revenue receipts of the state, 7 times the transfers to the state from the Central Government, 1.8 times the annual expenditure of the Kerala Government, and 15 to 18 times the size of foreign exchange earned from the export of cashew and marine products.
Gulf migrants, many of whom were from the working and the lower-middle classes, gradually gained social status. A myth was in the making: that of the 'Gulf man'. Gulf migrants were highly sought after as bridegrooms. Their attractive earnings, irrespective of their shortcomings, enabled them to marry into wealthy and respected families when they returned home.
The Gulf Dream has also found its expression in Malayalam cinema and literature. M. Mukundan's Daivathinte Vikrithikal draws out in detail the socio-economic impacts of Gulf migration on the enclave of Mahe.
- Zachariah, K. C. & Rajan, S. Irudaya (2008), Kerala Migration Survey 2007 (PDF), Department of Non-resident Keralite Affairs, Government of Kerala, p. 48. This is the number of emigrants from Kerala, which is closely related to but different from the actual number of Malayalis.
- Gulf Dream: For Indians The Golden Beaches Still gleam, Malayala Manorama Yearbook 1990;
- GCC residency cap may force lakhs to return by Biju Govind; The Hindu - Tuesday, August 19, 2008
- Remittances and its impact on the Kerala Economy and Society, S Irudaya Rajan and K.C. Zachariah
- Prema Kurien (2002). "4: Middle Eastern Migration From Kerala". Kaleidoscopic ethnicity: international migration and the reconstruction of community identities in India. Rutgers University Press.
- Prema A. Kurien. "A Socio-Cultural Perspective on Migration and Economic Development: Middle Eastern Migration from Kerala, India". Syracuse University.
- Filippo Osella, University of Sussex & Caroline Osella, SOAS, University of London. "Chapter 9, "I am Gulf": The production of cosmopolitanism among the Koyas of Kozhikode, Kerala".