Local Economy gets hooked onto a Global dependence

I have worked in Saudi Arabia for a little more than 2.5 years now. While I am involved in (so-called) hi-tech field, I have come across many Indians in Riyadh who are involved in Labour intensive work. Majority of these people are from a particular state in India called Kerala.

Now, I have been to Kerala in my childhood (first time in 1979 for a Quiz Competition in a city called Cochin, now called Kochi). Kerala was one of the backward states in India; though it always had a very high literacy rate. Most of the men folk of Kerala used to go out of the state to other parts of India for finding a livelihood. And most women folk in Kerala worked as Nurses in all parts of India.

It was during the boom in the Gulf region that the people (especially the men folk) from Kerala came to the Gulf. They traveled to the Gulf in their small fishing boats. They did all the jobs involving hard labour like working at the construction sites, etc. They have lived a very uncomfortable life in the Gulf. However, they have carried back huge sums of money to Kerala. Today, there are many people in Kerala who are extremely rich. The state is today a very attractive tourist destination for people all over the world.

People from Kerala continue to work in Gulf. However, they now have slightly different professions like they drive taxis, or operate restaurants, or work as technicians, etc. Quite a large population of this crowd are Drivers.

Recently, 2 incidences have taken place in Saudi Arabia. The first is that the Saudi Government has decided to extradite all the illegal migrants living in Saudi Arabia. The result of this decision is that all of a sudden many of the people from Kerala have had to leave Saudi Arabia. The impact of this extradition is so huge that a Minister from the Kerala Government came to Saudi Arabia to negotiate so that this extradition could be halted. This extradition not only impacts the people who are being extradited, it impacts the economy of Kerala and thus India.

The second decision which is still in process is that it is possible that the Saudi Arabian Government will allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia. As on date, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women cannot drive. There is a huge panic among the Drivers in Saudi Arabia at this moment. This is because when this law comes into force, it is estimated that at least 150,000 Drivers from Kerala, living in Saudi Arabia, will be affected as they will lose their jobs and will have to return to India.

india kerala boat people

India Kerala Boat People (Photo credit: FriskoDude)

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