The ex-pat community accounts for more than one-third of Kerala’s population and contributes approximately 37% of the state’s GDP. According to a survey conducted by the government in 2020, 18 million Indians live outside the country. India has the most expatriates in the UAE (3.5 million), the United States (2.7 million), and Saudi Arabia (2.5 million). According to a United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs report, Australia, Canada, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, and the United Kingdom are among the countries that welcome Indian immigrants the most. The World Bank estimated that remittances from expatriate Indians reached approximately $87 billion in 2021.
Kerala, which has no large-scale industries or large sources of financial income, has been one of the major exporters of human resources from India to other countries or other states for decades. The reality is that the economy of the state is mainly dependent on remittances and expatriate deposits. Not to mention Pravasi Indians, whether in other states or outside India, are often ignored by governments and mainstream political parties at all stages; they are severely exploited and their rights are denied on a larger scale. In order to cater to these issues, many political parties have started working for Kerala and the Kerala Pravasi Association (KPA) is one of them!
The Kerala Pravasi Association, founded by Pravasi Indians, has been approved by the Election Commission of India. KPA is propagated as a political party with new ideas to replace the country’s fronts’ anti-democratic and opportunistic politics. Kerala Pravasi Association has been registered as a political party with the Election Commission of India under the registration number 56/071/2021-2022/PPS-I and has entered politics with the slogan “Self-Sufficient and Self-Reliant Kerala.”
The foundation of Kerala Pravasi Association was laid by a group of Pravasis, who shared similar ideologies with the intention of achieving the following goals: working for the welfare of Pravasis and the rehabilitation of returning Pravasis; utilizing the potential, international expertise, and experience of Pravasis for the advancement of the state; establishing self-reliant Kerala; developing and implementing a 10-year plan to build a new Kerala free of coercion.
KPA national council chairman Rajendran Vellapalath stated that the need for a party focusing on expatriates was felt because approximately 18 million Indians are living abroad and are ignored by governments and mainstream political parties.
“We aim to build a self-sufficient, corrupt-free New India with the participation of Pravasi Indians, drawing on their international experience and exposure, work experience, expertise, strength, and enthusiasm to overcome any challenge,” Vellapalath said.
The party currently contains a 36-member national council and groups in 941 local bodies across Kerala. KPA has identified 36 areas where expatriates’ views are being implemented, including agriculture, environmental protection, industrial development, and manufacturing. The Kerala Pravasi Association promotes Pravasijobs.com (aiming at finding jobs for the unemployed youth in Kerala) by holding job fairs in cities across the state. Pravasi Jobs and Employment Consultancy is a recruitment agency founded to assist the state’s 40 lakh college-educated youth in finding work in and outside Kerala, particularly in foreign companies.
Kerala Pravasi Association has also filed a writ petition challenging the exorbitant prices of air tickets on flights between Gulf countries and India. The Kerala Pravasi Association argued that “Rule 135 (1) of the 1937 Aircraft is vague, arbitrary, and unconstitutional. As a result, Indian citizens who want to travel to and from these countries for employment, business, or education face significant challenges,” according to the petition. “Furthermore, it is submitted that such unreasonable and exorbitant airfares impose restrictions on air travel as a mode of transportation and, as a result, infringe on the constitutionally protected rights of Indian passengers to or from Gulf countries,” the statement continued.
The petitioners, Kerala Pravasi Association, seek urgent interim relief regarding the airline’s tariffs or the repeal of Rule 135 (1). Rajendran Vellapalath, Chairman, and Aswani Nambarambath, President National Council, were the figures involved in filing the writ petition.
Vellapalath also stated that they will launch a website called ‘keralastartup.com’ to assist start-ups and a program called ‘Keralashree’ to assist women. These will begin as pilot projects in Kerala, and the party intends to expand them to other parts of the country as well. Political parties like Kerala Pravasi Association are undeniably the ones that possess the ability to alter the youth’s future and are among the few who are actively trying to do so.