In pictures: Filling the job gap in Kerala
May 8, 2012
Several decades of migration by unskilled and semi-skilled labour to the Gulf have created a shortage of these workers in Kerala.
The gaps are being filled by people from West Bengal, Orissa, and Bihar. They come to the south, lured by the promise of higher wages than they can earn at home.
According to Irudaya Rajan, a professor of international migration at the Centre for Development Studies in Trivandrum, there are at least 1 million replacement workers in Kerala and 2.2 million Keralites living outside the country.
Santosh M Vijayan, 38, works as an electrician in Saudi Arabia and is currently at home on holiday. “I wanted to change my life so I left for new adventures,” Mr Vijayan said. He left behind Santosh M Shankaran, 30, who has been in high demand as one ???
Mr Shankaran, left, is in such high demand that sometimes the villagers have to wait four days for him to show up to fix a light switch.
While most North Indians speak or at least understand Hindi, that is not the case in the south. Malayalam and English are the most commonly spoken languages in Kerala.
Shafigul Moolah, 20, arrived here 12 years ago from West Bengal, with his then 18-year-old brother, who came looking for work. Their parents stayed in West Bengal. Today, Mr Moolah works as a carpenter, earning 500 rupees (Dh34.5) a day.
“There is dignity in work,” said Rahul Sheikh, 27, a migrant from Baharampur in West Bengal. “I am not sitting around here doing nothing, unlike what I did at home.”