|Address as Chief Guest at the Inauguration of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram on 19th October 2016|
ADDRESS AS CHIEF GUEST AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE U A E CONSULATE, KERALA
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM AT 1600 HRS. ON 19TH OCTOBER 2016
Shri Pinarayi Vijayan, Honourable Chief Minister,
Shri Jamal Hussein Al Zaabi, Consul General,
Shri Mohammed Alraissi, Under Secretary,
Shri Yasmin, Press Representative from UAE
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very happy to address you on this happy occasion of the inauguration of the consulate of the United Arab Emirates in Kerala. I understand that this is the third Diplomatic Mission of the UAE in India and the second full fledged Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, capital city of Kerala, the first being that of Maldives.
Let me begin by thanking the United Arab Emirates in responding very positively to our Government's wish to have a Consulate in Kerala. I see this as a milestone in our long standing friendly relations with the UAE.
We all know that the UAE has around 2.6 million Indians working in different professions and that around 70 percentage of them are Malayalis. As per the Non-Resident Malayali Census of Kerala, done in 2013, we have around 16.25 lakh Non-Resident Malayalis and 90% of them are working in the Gulf countries. And, it is in UAE that 35.5 % of these Gulf Malayalis work.
These figures amply justify the opening of this Consulate in Kerala.
In fact, the Gulf region, especially the UAE had made the State appear as a marvel to the Economists who had hailed the Kerala Model of Development. In the 1990's, emigration had continued to be the single most dynamic sector in Kerala's economy. The Liberalization of the 1990's had resulted in a boom in the remittances from the Gulf. It was in those days that Kerala's real per capita income, which took into account the remittances also, had exceeded per capita income by 149 %. At that time, our economists had called this a special model of export – led growth, because the commodity that we exported was human labour.
It is true that after the recession of 2008, the remittances from the Gulf region has suffered a decline. However, the economic and social impact of the Gulf phenomenon on Kerala is clearly evident in the progress we have achieved in the last three decades. The contribution of the Non Resident Keralites can be seen not only at the family level, but also at the community, State and national level. I would say that the greatest change it has brought about is in the family level, by improving household earnings, which had led to better health, education and so on.
It is interesting to note that even by 1998, the flow of money from Gulf to our households had amounted to over Rs.35,304 million. It had grown in such a way that the money from such remittances had equaled or even outgrown the total State budget. Today, our Economic Review says that around 50 lakh people in Kerala are dependent on Non Resident Malayalis.
While Kerala has progressed due to the remittances from the Gulf, UAE and other nations have also benefited greatly from the industrious and earnest attitude of the Keralites. I am certain that the industrial and even educational climate in the UAE has received a great boost due to the presence and involvement of Malayalees.
Another significant matter relates to the increase in the proportion of skilled workforce from Kerala. Right from the 1970s till the end of the nineties, Kerala emigrants had low levels of technical education and nearly 80% had no formal training at all. But, those were the times of the construction sector in the Gulf and training did not matter much. But, today, we see a larger proportion of skilled workforce from areas like medical, paramedical, engineering, Information technology, etc., seeking employment in the Gulf. This situation calls for action to upgrade and update the skills of our job seekers. I hope this Consulate would take interest in giving us the right feedback about the changing trends in skill expectations in jobs in UAE. I am certain that such timely feedback would also help the Skill India mission and agencies like NORKA in focusing their training modules.
I understand that the services of this Consulate would cover Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Karnataka also and that it can facilitate attestation and visa for around 700 people a day. Besides speeding up issue of Visas and other documents, this Consulate can also improve our bilateral relations, especially in trade relations. The UAE has been involved in many investments like Smart City in Kochi.
I would also like to point out Tourism and Education as two key areas which could bring our nations even closer. As you are well aware, Kerala is one of the best known tourist destinations in the world, not only for leisure, but also for medical tourism. I also understand that events like Dubai shopping Festival also had many visitors from Kerala, proving that mutual cooperation in Tourism is on the rise.
In higher Education, Kerala has been projecting itself as a significant Educational destination for students from the Gulf region. In fact, our universities have devised many schemes for attracting foreign students, as a result of which, there is a large presence of international students in our campuses. As the Chancellor of the Universities in the State, I would certainly welcome any move from the Consulate to introduce our campuses to the students of your country. As we all know, education is the area that helps most in creating mutual understanding between nations.
I sincerely hope that this Consulate would work in close liaison with agencies like the Non Resident Keralites Affairs Department (NORKA) and get established in the minds of our people.
I compliment the consulate officials for conducting this function in a befitting manner and wish them all success.