It used to be that most Malayalees, as soon as they were of an age to travel, got on the train to Mumbai or Delhi to look for a job. The rest got on the plane to Dubai for the same reason. Their journey coincided with well-heeled tourists coming to find paradise in God’s own country, a title appropriated by Kerala thanks to all the slickly packaged advertising.
From Thiruvananthapuram to Kasargod, young people have been leaving Kerala for decades. This has meant that there are few people left who are willing to engage in manual labour.
That’s why the remittance-dependent state is emerging as a destination for job seekers from other states, such as Orissa, West Bengal and Assam. For many of these workers, Kerala is their Gulf. This migration needs to be carefully managed by the state, otherwise these workers would have traded poverty for another kind of misery.