Sun, 07 Jun, 2020

Emigration of the blue-collared & respectable

Statistics on remittances from abroad should put a little wisdom in the minds of local politicians who ridicule Goans for their propensity to migrate overseas

Story: PRABHAKAR | TIMBLE | 10th August 2019, 02:54 Hrs


Remittances, which is money sent out home by people working away from home is an important and assured spring of foreign exchange. As per the World Bank Report 2010, India is the largest recipient of international remittances in the world. Around 35% of remittances originate from the Middle East and an equal share from North America. Europe accounts for 20% and the balance 10% from the rest of the world.   

This shows the concentration and spread of Indian emigrants. Despite being so, India cannot be regarded as a remittance-dependent economy as the remittance to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio is just 4%. However, Kerala, Punjab and Goa are top remittance dependent economies as they account for 40% of international remittances. If these States are looked at as countries, they would figure as the top remittance-dependent nations of the world. This is only to highlight the mark of significance which needs to be accorded to the emigrant population and its impact on the growth prospects of the local economy. It is foolish to persecute them as lesser Indians as most of the nouveau nationalists tend to do today.  

Goa has always been heavily dependent on this source. In the initial years post-liberation, it is the remittances which have shouldered the development of the State and sustained the economy. With subsistence agriculture and not so strong industry to generate any sort of economic take-off, it was mining and remittances which facilitated the local economic multiplier in trading, construction industry, real estate and an infant service sector. It is estimated that remittances to Goa from emigrants is around Rs 700 crore per annum. This is approximately 6.3% of the State Gross Domestic Product and the quantum would be in the range of 30% of the revenue receipts of the Goa government.  

These statistics should put a little wisdom in the minds of the the local politicians who ridicule Goans for their propensity to migrate overseas. Goan Hindus tilting towards ‘hindutva’ tend to make uncharacteristic comments on emigrating Goans even stretching it to questioning their patriotism on the ostensible belief that it is the local Christians and Muslims who dream to migrate. They need to know that youth from the Hindu community belonging largely to OBCs desire to take up even “disagreeable” overseas jobs to earn decent livelihoods for their families and also create a security cover for their near future. The juicy pleasure that some politicians and armchair landlords pretending to be agriculturists take by poking fun at emigrants as rag pickers and toilet-cleaners is despicable. Today, it is skilled engineers, doctors, computer experts and professionals from the majority community who work their plans of education and employment across the borders.  

The larger emigration is of the unskilled and the less literate. Around 78% of the emigrants have not crossed secondary education and the degree holders would be around 22%. It would be erroneous to describe this as brain drain as this human resource would be either unemployed or in some low paying seasonal jobs locally. Emigration creates shortage of local unskilled labour and shoots up the wage rate. Also, it results in “replacement migration” to fill the void. This partially explains immigration from neighboring States into Goa taking up jobs and occupations which are considered ‘undignified’ but without which economic life cannot be in motion. As locals emigrate and out-migrate for reasons whatsoever, they need also to appreciate in-migration again for whatever motives. It is really a contradiction that overseas Goans are the nastiest critics of migrants who get  assimilated into the region.  

Initially, emigrants will be drawn from specific communities. It would not be the equal urge of all to find income earning pastures overseas. It is normal to find minorities forming a larger proportion of emigrants. Their absorption levels under local environment in rewarding occupations are highly inadequate for reasons whatever. Their educational levels are also comparatively very low. These trends are bound to change with development providing equal access to all in education, health and employment. Hence, today we observe the propensity to emigrate across communities in Goa. The trends also indicate emigration of skilled, qualified and specialist human resource.  

Remittances continue to finance the household consumption expenditure of sizeable population of the State. The non-resident Goans (NRG) remittance for family maintenance remains the primary purpose. The other slice gets channelized by NRG to domestic investments in real estate and share markets. The contribution of NRG to banks is quite substantial as foreign deposits constitute 22% of the total deposits in Goa. Remittance also funds charitable and religious institutions. The component in the form of gold and silver is also seen but negligible as compared to the cash component.  

The uneven spread of migration from Goa is discernible from the inequality in the quality of life and consumption standards of the coastal regions and the hinterlands. This disparity is due to the remittance flow in the coastal belt which has provided boost to enlarged economic activity, apart from the areas being epicenters of tourism.  

Apart from international migration, the national migration of the local population is also turning noticeable. The trend of the presence of the Goan community in the metros of India for exploiting opportunities is increasing. These drifts are inevitable in free and liberalized economic societies. This indicates that remittances, both international and internal would be crucial for Goa’s growth and to sustain local investment, innovation and enterprise. 

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