Malayalis won\'t give up Gulf dreams despite job loss, financial crisis

A total of 65.54 per cent of the expatriates do not have a job or other means of living in their native place

Reports of huge reverse migration of Indians, especially Keralites from the Gulf region during the COVID-19 pandemic are making headlines. But contrary to reports, most of the expatriates from Kerala in the Middle Eastern Arab states, whose remittance is one of the backbones of the state’s economy, though worried over the post –COVID-19 uncertainties, are not ready to give up on their Gulf dreams.

A survey conducted by ‘Pravasi Risala’ a magazine based in Dubai among Kerala expatriates indicated that 91.1 per cent of the NRKs want to continue in the Gulf and still have hopes of sustaining there. This is for the first time that a survey is being conducted on the impact of COVID-19 on NRKs in Gulf countries.

The survey conducted among 7223 participants from six GCC countries indicated that about 65 per cent of the NRKs are expected to lose jobs post COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 13.5 percent has already lost jobs and 26.02 per cent anticipating job loss. As many as 18.44 per cent has had salary cuts while 7.32 per cent are not getting salaries.

“The survey was conducted on a sample comprising various age, social, educational and income groups. There were participants from all districts in Kerala. Despite having job loss, salary cut and serious financial crisis, a majority of the NRKs, including entrepreneurs and employees, are not ready to give up Gulf dreams. Most of the respondents said that they are still hopeful of a revival and want to continue here,” said Ali Akbar, executive editor of Pravasi Risala.

The survey was on the impact of pandemic among the expatriate communities in the gulf region. While 52.04 per cent of the respondents wanted to stay put during the crisis or wished to return once the crisis is over, a negligable 8.9 % indicated that they would not return to the Gulf once they return to Kerala.

What makes NRKs remain in a foreign country during crisis is the lack of source of income and financial stability back home. A total of 65.54 per cent of the expatriates do not have a job or other means of living in their native place.

Only 4.75 per cent of the expats have either job, business or other means for livelihood in Kerala. More than 20 per cent of the respondents in the survey do not possess house or property. 56.12 per cent would have to depend on loans or other forms of financial assistance to set up a means of living.

A majority of the expatriates have the responsibility of marriage or education of their kids or dependents on their shoulders. Only 15.79 per cent of the participants are in a comfortable situation and staying with their family in the Gulf. A 65 per cent of the respondents said that the pandemic has had emotional impact on them while 34.65 per cent of them have expressed severe distress because of the crisis.

The findings of the survey carried out by the volunteers of Risala Study Circle (RSC) will be useful for the Kerala government while initiating schemes for the returning NRKs.

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