Census in Kerala reveals NRK figures exaggerated

UAE has highest number of Keralites, followed by Saudi

By T.k. Devasia

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Published: Sun 20 Apr 2014, 11:45 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 11:43 PM

The first ever door-to-door census of non-resident Keralites (NRKs) conducted by the Kerala government shows that the current estimates of Keralites living abroad are highly exaggerated.

According to the census conducted by the Kerala Economics and Statistics Department in association with the Non-resident Keralites’ Affairs Department (Norka), the number of NRKs living outside India during May 1, 2013-July15, 2013 is 1.6 million.

Various recent studies had put the number of overseas Keralites between two million to 2.5 million. The fifth Kerala Migration Survey, considered as the most authoritative, carried out by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Trivandrum had estimated the number of Kerala migrants to be 2.28 million 2011. As much as 93 per cent of the migrants are males.

The NRK Census is comprehensive since it was based on details collected from every household in the state whereas the other studies were based on samples. The Statistics Department concedes a five per cent margin of error in their findings considering the difficulties the enumerators faced in gathering complete details of NRKs without kin in the state.

The surveyors feel that kin of some NRKs may not have revealed the complete details due to misunderstanding it could lead to the change in their status from below poverty line (BPL) to above poverty line (APL).

The report of the survey published in the website www.ecostat.kerala.gov.in says that out of 1.6 million NRKs living abroad, only 1.4 million are employed. The highest number of Keralites (35%) is in the UAE. It is followed by Saudi Arabia with 28pc.

The UAE also account for the highest number of employed Keralites (39pc). With 33pc, Saudi Arabia is behind the UAE. The Gulf countries account for 90 per cent of overseas Keralites. More than 96 per cent of Kerala migrants in Saudi are males. The country with the highest number of females is New Zealand (37pc). It is followed by UK with 34 per cent.

While 59 per cent of Kerala females spread across the world are nurses, 58 per cent men belong to the workers’ category. The occupational profile shows driving as the single largest job. As much as 169,097 people are working as drivers. Salesmen come second with 156,797. Nurses account for 90,898, engineers 53,876, information technology 31,834, business 79,408, managers 20,867, doctors 7,524, teachers 11,760 and banking professionals 10,011. The UAE employs maximum number of 19,962 nurses from Kerala. Saudi follows with 17,894. The number of Keralite nurses in UK is 10,318 and in US 9,041.

The survey shows that only 519,569 migrants are living abroad with their families. Nearly a million have left their spouses behind in the country. The highest number (317,847) of Keralites living without families abroad is in the UAE. It is followed by Saudi Arabia with 299,227.

Most number of NRKs are from Malappuram district (18 per cent) and the least is in Idukki (one per cent). Edamalakkudy in Idukki is the only panchayat without a migrant. All the remaining panchayats have at least one person working abroad.

Mundiyoor panchayat in Malappuram district has the most number of NRK families while Madayi panchayat in Kannur district accounts for the most number of NRKs. The maximum number of women working abroad is in Kottayam (33 per cent) and the least is in Kasargod (one per cent).

The state government had ordered the census in the wake of reverse exodus from Saudi Arabia as a result of the implementation of the Nitaqat programme. The planners found it difficult to draw up rehabilitation programmes in the absence of correct information of the people living abroad. The census will now form the basis for drawing up schemes for the expats in future.

However, a section thinks that the census was not comprehensive. Kerala Pravasi Sangham secretary, K.V. Abdul Khader, MLA says the survey had left out many households and the actual number of expats may be higher.


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