Singapore most preferred destination of Tamil diaspora: Study

Thiruvananthapuram, March 23 (IANS) Singapore has emerged as the most preferred destination among NRIs from Tamil Nadu. A study has revealed that 410,000 of the 2.2 million Tamil diaspora were residing in Singapore in 2015.

Coordinated by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) here, the survey of 20,000 households across Tamil Nadu was commissioned by the Non Resident Tamils (NRT) Welfare Board under the state’s Commissioner of Rehabilitation.

After Singapore, the largest number of Tamil Nadu diaspora is settled in the Gulf region with both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia accounting for 400,000 and 350,000 people respectively. The US, with 300,000, and Malaysia, with 190,000, are the other top countries that Tamil emigrants preferred.

Speaking to IANS, S. Irudayarajan of the CDS, who coordinated the study, said the Gulf region (the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait) accounts for 1.1 million Tamil emigrants, half of the total emigrants from Tamil Nadu.

“One difference with the Kerala diaspora is that 2.1 million or 86 percent of Kerala emigrants are in the Gulf. In other words, 50 percent of the Tamil diaspora is in Southeast Asia, the US and other countries, the rest of the 50 percent is in the Middle East,” said Irudayarajan.

The total remittances to Tamil Nadu in 2015 were estimated at Rs.61,843 crore (over $9 billion), while Kerala’s remittances were much higher at Rs.68,000 crore.

At Rs.61,843 crore, this translates to an average per capita remittance of Rs.8,500, given that Tamil Nadu’s population is 72 million.

For Kerala, the per capita remittance was Rs.21,000 in 2014.

According to the study, the remittances to Tamil Nadu are equivalent to 14 percent of the state’s gross domestic product.

The remittances were 6.8 times what the state received from the central government as revenue transfer and 1.8 times the entire government expenditure.

“In other words, 85 percent of the households received remittances for their day-to-day needs. Another major share was used for the child education. About 31 percent of the households deposited the remittances into banks as savings,” Irudayarajan said.

“About seven percent of the households in Tamil Nadu used money for purchasing or building a house,” Irudayarajan said, adding the study report has now been handed over to the Tamil Nadu government.

The study found the emigration is a phenomenon observed throughout Tamil Nadu with Chennai (320,000), Coimbatore (190,000) and Ramanathapuram (140,000) districts with the largest number of emigrants. Theni (13,802), Dharmapuri (14,594) and Nilgiris (5,868) districts are ranked the lowest.

According to the TMS, the return emigrants in Tamil Nadu are estimated to be 1.3 million with 6.1 return emigrants per 100 households.

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