The venue for the open forum on ‘Immigration: Expectations and Challenges’ held on Friday as part of the third edition of Loka Kerala Sabha showcased the two sides of expatriate life.

NRI businessman MA Yousuf Ali, who inaugurated the session, said the country would prosper through immigration, but at the same time Keralites who reached every corner of the world would be the first to suffer every time there would be a global crisis – be it the COVID -19 pandemic or the war in Ukraine. For example, expatriates in Kerala were hardest hit when Saudi Arabia strictly enforced the Nitaqat (naturalization) law, he said.

The interactive session also saw expats seek Mr Ali’s support to urge the state government to provide better rehabilitation to distressed returnees. He also emphasized the need to be honest in life to achieve greater heights in his career by sharing an analogy during the event.

S. Irudaya Rajan, an immigration expert who spoke at the session, said migration was “nothing less than a search for money”. Money brings comfort and prosperity in life, but at the same time, a good number of expats who went in search of money also lost their lives, he said.

First, migration is not a solution to unemployment. About one million women in Kerala live without the presence of their husband in their daily life. This is the case for about 20 lakh children in the state. Thus, strengthening the local economy is the best solution to improve the standard of living of the inhabitants of the state. In the long run, the migration won’t do much, Mr. Rajan said.