Dalit Migration, Diaspora and Development: Punjab and Kerala

Author Name

S. Irudaya Rajan, Steve Taylor and Vinod Kumar

Author Address

Professor S. Irudaya Rajan Chair Professor, Research Unit on International Migration, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum, Kerala (email: [email protected]), Professor Steve Taylor Professor of Sociology, Department of Social Sciences, Northumbria University, UK (email: [email protected]) Asst. Professor Vinod Kumar Department of Sociology, Panjab University, Chandigarh (email: [email protected])


Dalit dispora, Indian diaspora, Kerala


The states of East Punjab (hereafter Punjab) and Kerala both have a long and continuing history of significant overseas emigration and inter-diasporic migration, albeit with distinct dynamics, destinations and implications. The relationship between international migration and economic growth and development within India is an emerging area of key research and policymaking within the nation. In particular, intense and increasing scrutiny and legislation is being applied to the enhanced social mobility apparently enabled by overseas migration, and to the remittances, investments and philanthropic donations transmitted “home” by Indian diasporic communities living abroad. Punjab and Kerala record some of the highest levels of overseas remittances in the world, let alone within India (Upadhya and Rutten 2012). In this context, the two states are often held up as exemplars of the overseas migration-regional development nexus, as models for other Indian states to follow (Zachariah et al 2001; Dusenbery and Tatla (ed) 2009). The state of Punjab has been a major source of international migration to western societies for over a century, resulting in Punjabi Sikhs being described as “the premier migrants of South Asia” (Singh and Tatla 2006: 41). The Indian Punjabi global diaspora can be seen as a “transnational community”,

The southern Indian state of Kerala has experienced a unique development process, characterised by high volumes of migration outflows to the Arabian Gulf and other parts of the world. Labour mobility has been an important livelihood strategy employed by households and societies in Kerala to cope with poverty, unemployment and other adverse conditions. Historically, Kerala’s location at the cusp of maritime trade routes has propelled its links to the global economy. Over the last three decades in particular, migration has been a key engine of social, political and economic transformation in the state. 


International Conference on Migration, Diaspora and Development
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