Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Feb 07, 2006


News
Features
Stocks
Shipping
Archives
Google

Group Sites

Industry & Economy - NRIs
Government - Policy
Columns - Random Walk


New hope for NRKs

K.G. Kumar

WITH the appointment last week of veteran Congress leader Vayalar Ravi as Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Kerala gets its first Cabinet Minister in the United Progressive Alliance Government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The choice of portfolio could not have been better for Kerala, since Keralites comprise perhaps the single largest group in the great Indian diaspora.

As the new minister himself said in an interview to Indo Asian News Service, "This is a newly created ministry by the Congress-led UPA Government. We have a small office but it's important as we have around 25 million Indians in 120 countries. I represent Kerala, from where millions go to different countries, mainly in the Middle East. It is clear that our government wants to take care of the problems of the working class and labourers in the Gulf countries."

These working men and women comprise a considerable force to reckon with. According to a study conducted by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Thiruvananthapuram, over 90 per cent of remittances worth Rs 18,400 crore sent by non-resident Keralites in 2003-04 were from the Middle East. An estimated 17 lakh Keralites reside outside India, of which close to 90 per cent are in West Asia.

The liberalisation of the Indian economic policies, particularly the foreign exchange rate, benefited Kerala directly, say the authors of the study. The significance of remittances can also be gauged by its relative magnitudes. By the end of the 1990s, remittances had reached such levels that they were well above the total government expenditure, value added in manufacturing and even the value added in the industrial sector as a whole.

Clearly, non-resident Keralites are an important component - some would say the crucial element - in the sustenance and sustainability of the State's economy. They ought to be thus treated more than just fairly. The State Government has realised that it needs to give its migrant workers special treatment, which is why it set up the Department of Non-resident Keralites' Affairs (Norka) in December 1996 to strengthen relations between them and the government.

And now with the appointment of Vayalar Ravi as Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs with exclusive jurisdiction over their affairs, non-resident Indians from Kerala can expect a better deal. Already the claims and requests are coming in fast and copiously.

For instance, the Kerala Association of Travel Agents has urged Vayalar Ravi to intervene to put pressure on Air-India Express, the supposedly low-cost, no-frills carrier launched by India's national airline, to withdraw the excess fare being collected from passengers to the Gulf sector. Additionally, it wants the airline to keep its initial promise of offering attractive fares, 25 to 50 per cent lower those charged by other airlines.

These, and several other demands, are likely to be aggressively pursued by non-resident Keralites and their organizations, now that they feel they have a particularly sympathetic ear in the form of a Union Minister of their own ilk. Vayalar Ravi thus has his work cut out for him. Thousands of Keralites struggling to eke out a living in difficult and often harsh alien climes are looking up to him for a fair and square deal.

The writer can be contacted at kgkumar@gmail.com

More Stories on : NRIs | Policy | Kerala | Random Walk

Article E-Mail :: Comment :: Syndication :: Printer Friendly Page



Stories in this Section
TeamLease to offer blue-collar temps


Fall in employment disturbing, says Planning Commission
New hope for NRKs
M.P. annual Plan size pegged at Rs 9,020 cr
SC panel concludes talks on Clemenceau
India, Russia to set up joint forum on trade, investment
Japan trade organisation seeks tax incentives to invest in India
Sponsoring sporting events — Govt plans to tighten norms for oil firms
KSSIA seeks Rs 50-cr Budget allocation for village, small industries
Learning is fun
New launches from ICFAI
ICFAI Republic to set up 50 village schools
Aditya Jyot, Japanese centre tie up for stem cell research
`Realty market in India on high growth curve'
Sisspa urges Govt to ease import norms for used textile machinery
2-day convention on science & tech at Hyderabad
Kinfra organises meeting with Minister
Tools expo fetches business worth Rs 100 cr
The export growth story
Spices export continues to decline
Wheat import move lauded
`AP poised to garner 15 pc of software export pie'
Sunshine sector
Low-cost higher education books hit US stores



The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | The Hindu Images | Home |

Copyright 2006, The Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu Business Line