Kerala Gulf diaspora
|2.5 million (est.)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Malayalam, English, Gulf Arabic|
|Hinduism, Islam, Christianity|
The Kerala Gulf diaspora refers to the people of Kerala living in the Middle Eastern Arab states of the Persian Gulf. In 2008, they numbered more than 2.5 million. Nearly 80 percent of Indians living in Kuwait are from Kerala according to the 2008 survey commissioned by the Department of Non-resident Keralite Affairs.
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 GCC states 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 GCC states continues to the present day, although in smaller numbers after the 2008 international financial crisis began to affect the GCC region. This initial wave of migration is usually referred to as the Kerala Gulf Boom. In 2010, the GCC states contained a total Keralite population of more than 3.5 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 (600 billion) rupees.
Huge oil reserves were discovered in the Eastern Arabia region (Arab states of the Persian Gulf) 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—many Keralite migrants are Muslim.
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. Pathemari (English: Dhow) is a 2015 Malayalam-language period drama film written and directed by Salim Ahamed whose plot follows the life of Pallikkal Narayanan (Mammootty) who migrated to the Middle-East in the early 1960s, when the Kerala Gulf boom was just beginning.
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- 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.
- Zachariah, K. C. & Rajan, S. Irudaya (2011), Kerala Migration Survey 2011 (PDF), Department of Non-resident Keralite Affairs, Government of Kerala, p. 29. 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;
- Govind, Biju (19 August 2008). "GCC residency cap may force lakhs to return". The Hindu. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
- "Remittances: Like manna from heaven". The Economist. 5 September 2015. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- 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" (PDF). Syracuse University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 March 2012.
- 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" (PDF).CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)