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Tamil Nadu immigrants face problems with migration expenses

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Chennai: Raghavendran Ganesan was relatively a well-placed emigrant with roots in Tamil Nadu. He was working in a world famous Indian firm and stationed in European Union’s headquarters Brussels in Belgium.

Of course, the entire Indian administrative arm based in Brussels was searching for him after he went missing last week following an IS-triggered bomb blast on a metro train.

That was, of course, a rare situation.

And that kind of attention to each of 35 lakh people from Tamil Nadu living in various parts of the world, who remit over Rs 61,800 crore back to country, not possible even in dreams. “We have seen cases where bodies of people who died in Gulf countries not reaching their homes in Tamil Nadu for months,” says Sr M. Valarmathi, state coordinator for Migrants Forum. Chennai.

Airport sources estimate that 12 to 15 dead bodies arrive every month in the international terminal and most will be from Gulf countries. “Similarly, bodies of Tamil emigrants will be arriving at Tiruchy, Coimbatore and also in Thiruvananthapuram” a police officer said. A government survey last year found there are 3.5 million people from Tamil Nadu working abroad,  with Chennai topping the list with 3.2 lakh people, followed by Coimbatore with 1.9 lakh and Ramanathapuram 1.4 lakh. It is estimated that 15 per cent of Tamil emigrants are women.

While 22 lakh people struggle in other countries, the rest – 13 lakh people – returned home because the contract for a majority of them was not renewed last year.  While 38 per cent of the returnees said their contracts were not renewed, 19 per cent said family issues had dragged them back, eight per cent noted they were getting poor wages – very less than promised – abroad and another eight per cent decided to come back because of bad health. “It does not mean that once returned, these workers will not go back. They will try to go to another place or another country hoping to land in a better job,” Valarmathi says.

Answering a query in Parliament recently, Gen V. K. Singh, minister of state for external affairs, said the number of Indian workers who emigrated through emigration clearance to 18 notified countries has come down from 8.16 lakh in 2013 to 7.81 lakh in 2015. Singh also said  that in the last financial year the remittance back home from Indians abroad was US $ 69 billions. (Rs 4.6 lakh crore )

The survey in Tamil Nadu also found that approximately 10 lakh women in the state are left behind at home because their husbands are working abroad.
The survey showed these women, with an average schooling of 11 years, are more qualified than males in general population.  In

In general population,  average schooling for males is around 8.5 years while for women it is 7.3 years. The survey showed that nine per cent of women left behind never visited the country where their husbands are working and 97 per cent of them keep in touch with their husbands using mobile phones.

On an average, migrants from Tamil Nadu pay around Rs 1.08 lakh and half of their money is gobbled up by recruitment agencies. The survey shows that 52 per cent of emigrants had met their migration expenses on their own by family support or by borrowed money.

(Source– deccanchronicle.com)

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Lost in Time : The Less Explored Pamban Island and the Rameswaram Island | Travelogue

The land of temples, picturesque locales, architecture, and the home of the 'Missile Man' of India - welcome to the Rameswaram Island!

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Rameswaram island
We take you through a town lost in time, Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram island. Wikimedia

Rameswaram, September 15, 2017 : Off the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, some 500 km south of Chennai, lies Pamban Island. Seemingly a stone’s throw from neighboring Sri Lanka, this is an island steeped in historical significance, and with some of the most resilient people alive.

One of the longest sea bridges in the country, the iconic Pamban Bridge connects the mainland with the island, also known as Rameswaram Island. With breathtaking views of the Bay of Bengal, the journey to the island over this bridge rewinds one to colonial times, when it was built by the British to improve trade relations with Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Built in 1914 as India’s first-ever sea bridge, the 6,700-foot structure is in itself an engineering and historical marvel that has withstood several of nature’s furies — from storms to cyclones.

Rameswaram island
An overview of the Pamban Brindge. Wikimedia

The bridge initially ran up to the southeastern tip of the island, Dhanushkodi, now a ghost town. After a cyclone hit it in 1964, Dhanushkodi was washed away by the sea and is now a mere skeleton of the town it once was.

Remnants of its railway lines, church and the devastated dwellings of people can still be seen, though in very poor shape.

From the tip of the region, cell phone networks welcome one to Sri Lanka.

Visible from here is the Adam’s Bridge — a former land link between India and Sri Lanka, now undersea — that is also known as Rama Setu, the bridge believed to have been built by Lord Rama’s army to rescue Sita from Lanka.

Nambavel, a 50-year-old, says there can be no other home for him than Dhanushkodi, of pristine waters and picturesque views of the Bay of Bengal. Three generations of his family have lived here. Although the deadly cyclone forced many to migrate to villages around, some 50 families, including Nambavel’s, refused to leave.

“This has been our home for as long as we’ve known. We grew up playing in the sea water, then learnt to make our living through fishing or running petty shops,” Nambavel told this visiting IANS correspondent.

Rameswaram island
Residents of Dhanushkodi refuse to abandon their small town; for them the “sea is everything”. Wikimedia

“Even as many people we know migrated to nearby villages, there’s no home like Dhanushkodi for us — the sea is everything,” he said.

With sea levels rising around the world due to global warming, the region is constantly threatened by nature. But that does not deter Nambavel: “Even if another cyclone is close, most of us would like to be here, a land we’ve grown up in.”

Surrounded by sea and sand, the town cannot grow any crops and has no provision for electricity due to the wind velocity in the area. It is only the solar panels, an initiative of late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who hailed from Rameswaram, that light up the shacks of the few residents.

With Rameswaram considered one of the holiest places for Hindus, a majority of visitors make temples the focus of their travels.

Aiming to showcase the rich cultural and historical heritage of the island, apart from the much-visited temples, Utsa Majumder, the General Manager of the newly-launched Hyatt Place, Rameswaram, is working extensively on various itineraries that uncover the untrodden places in and around the region.

“There’s a lot more that the Rameswaram Island can offer than just the temples it is mostly known for. We want people to know that Rameswaram can be an experiential destination and not just a pilgrimage spot,” Majumder told IANS.

“From historic places that have stood the test of time to some incredible architecture and engineering like the Pamban Bridge, there’s a lot a tourist can see here,” she added.

The hotel offers these itineraries to travelers according to their interests, allowing them to explore different facets of the region, along with menus that present the cuisines of the land — from kuzhi paniyaram (rice batter dumplings) to kara kozhumbu (a spicy tamarind gravy).

Rameswaram Island
Local cuisine at Dhanushkodi. Wikimedia

The region also celebrates its much-beloved son Abdul Kalam. His two-storeyed house on Mosque Street is filled with thousands of his books and is always bustling with people.

A Rs 15-crore memorial to India’s “Missile Man”, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 27, has also grown rather quickly as a tourist attraction. The memorial houses a copy of the last speech Kalam delivered at IIM-Shillong on July 27, 2015, a number of pictures of his meetings with world leaders, and a host of other objects.

As an island that is yearning to receive a boost to its tourism, even a bottle of water bought from a shack in Dhanushkodi goes towards supporting a family.

FAQs:

Reaching there: Flights to Madurai, the nearest airport, from all major cities. From Madurai, Rameswaram can be reached in 3 hrs 30 min (160 kms) by road.

For the picturesque views from a train, pick one that is available almost every hour to Rameswaram from Madurai Railway Station.

Stay: There are four-star, three-star hotels and smaller lodges in the town.

Best time to visit: October to March as the temperatures drop and stay between 20 to 30 degrees C, making travel easier. (IANS)

 

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Lost and Never Found : UN Experts Find Direct Link Between Enforced Disappearances and Migration, Claim Thousands of Migrants are at a High Risk

While enforced disappearances are widespread, it is not possible to document its scale and scope because the practice is hidden and takes place in secret.

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Enforced disappearances
Migrants line up as they wait to be evacuated from a makeshift street camp, in Paris, France Friday, July 7, 2017. Paris authorities are evacuating some 1,500 migrants from a makeshift street camp as Europe faces an upsurge in new arrivals. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) (VOA)

Geneva, September 14, 2017 : U.N. experts says thousands of migrants are at high risk of enforced disappearance. A special report by the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances accuses states and the international community at large of turning a blind eye to the crime, which generally goes unreported and unpunished.

The report, presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, finds a direct link between enforced disappearances and migration. In some cases, it says, individuals may migrate because they may be at risk of enforced disappearance from their own governments or they could be abducted during their journey for political or other reasons.

It explains enforced disappearances can occur when a migrant is in detention or going through a deportation process. It can be a consequence of smuggling or trafficking.

ALSO READ Refugees and Migrant children more vulnerable to Deportation and Exploitation today: UNICEF

While the phenomenon is widespread, the vice chairman of the Working Group on Enforced Disappearance, Bernard Duhaime, told VOA it is not possible to document its scale and scope. That is because the practice is hidden and takes place in secret.

He adds it occurs in almost all parts of the world. For example, he notes cases of enforced disappearances in Libya and among refugees fleeing Syria.

“There are similar instances in South Asia, as well, in particular with the phenomenon of the migration of the Rohingyas. There are also examples documented … migrants crossing through Central America and through Mexico, as well who disappear.… The report refers to networks of traffickers and smugglers in Sudan, Eritrea – in that region, as well,” Duhaime said.

Experts warn the increasingly dangerous routes migrants follow expose them to greater risk of becoming victims of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances.

The report calls on governments to gather all information about people who disappear in or while transiting their countries and to do what they can to locate missing migrants. (VOA)

 

 

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Donald Trump to Revisit Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) if Congress Stumbles

DACA did not promise participants citizenship or permanent U.S. residency, instead promising a reprieve from deportation

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Jennifer Hernandez (L) and Paola Rodriguez, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients, participate in a candle vigil at the San Jacinto Plaza in El Paso, Texas, Sept. 5, 2017. VOA

Sep 06, 2017: President Donald Trump says he will revisit the decision to end a program that shielded nearly 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants from deportation if Congress doesn’t act on the issue.

Hours after administration officials said new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, will no longer be accepted, Trump tweeted late Tuesday that “Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!”

Action by Congress is not certain. Lawmakers have been unsuccessful for years in their efforts to revise substantially U.S. immigration policies. During Obama’s eight years as president, the Senate – controlled by members of his Democratic Party for most of that time — approved major policy changes only to see the legislation fail in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

President Trump approved the decision to end DACA but sent Attorney General Jeff Sessions before news cameras Tuesday to announce the controversial policy change.

“DACA is being rescinded,” Sessions announced. The action revoked an executive order former President Barack Obama issued five years ago after the U.S. Congress repeatedly failed to agree on an immigration reform bill.

WATCH: Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Sessions argued that Obama’s “open-ended circumvention of immigration laws” was in violation of the U.S. constitution and unlikely to survive a legal challenge brought by several Republican-controlled states.

Former President Barack Obama, who has refrained from commenting on most of the policy changes Trump has enacted this year, challenged Sessions’ legal argument in a strongly worded statement, saying the decision was “purely political” and that it targeted young people who “have done nothing wrong.”

Demonstrators opposed to the administration’s decision massed in Washington, Los Angeles, New York, Denver and other cities.

WATCH: ‘Dreamers’ Vow to Fight to Keep DACA Until the Bitter End

Activist Gustavo Torres told a crowd outside the White House: “This president lied to our community. … He told us, ‘I have a big heart for you dreamers.’ He’s a liar!”

Protesters react to the cancellation of DACA outside the offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, Sept. 5, 2017. (PVohra/VOA)
Protesters react to the cancellation of DACA outside the offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, Sept. 5, 2017. (PVohra/VOA)

The future status of the hundreds of thousands of young, foreign-born students and workers is unclear for now, since they are no longer protected from summary deportation by the DACA program. Congress will have six months to act if it wants to continue to allow them to remain in the United States.

The young immigrants, also colloquially known as “dreamers,” typically entered the United States as young children. Many trace their heritage to Mexico or Central American countries, but some arrived so young that they have grown up knowing nothing other than American society and customs.

DACA supporters march to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to protest shortly after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), will be suspended with a six-month delay, Sept. 5, 2017.
DACA supporters march to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to protest shortly after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), will be suspended with a six-month delay, Sept. 5, 2017. VOA

Anyone who joined the “deferred action” program for work and study was required to have and maintain a clean criminal record. DACA did not promise participants citizenship or permanent U.S. residency, instead promising a reprieve from deportation.

DACA Changes Explained

The program was initially intended as a stop-gap measure to protect aspiring young immigrants, while Congress was to come up with a more lasting solution to their problems.

“I have a love for these people,” Trump said at the White House late Tuesday, “and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly.” Earlier he had issued only a written statement stating that federal immigration patrols would not make seeking out DACA recipients for detention and deportation a priority issue. (VOA)