Measuring International Remittances in India: Concepts and Empirics
Author: Puja Guha
India is the top remittance receiving nation in the world. The international remittance receipts in India have grown at an impressive rate of 300 per cent during the past decade. Understanding the true impact of these foreign exchange flows is possible only with better knowledge and accurate measurement of the volume of these flows. This paper presents an empirical illustration of the different measures of international remittances for India, as measured by different institutions and surveys, and highlights the discrepancies between these measures. The broad objective of the paper is to understand the conceptual and empirical issues involved in measuring these flows. It uses data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the National Sample Survey (NSS) of India on international remittances to show that there are large discrepancies in international remittance estimates. While the IMF estimate is twice that of the RBI, the RBI value is twice that of the household-level NSS survey data. This discrepancy can be partly explained by the varied nature of definitions used by these different agencies. Data is gathered at different levels by different sources and these sources do not coordinate among themselves. Also, there is a lack of transparency in the methods of collation and aggregation of the data at each level. One way to overcome this problem is to create a link between the local and the central data gathering institutions and have a centralised data generating mechanism, where data is gathered at the local level and then compiled at the central level. The necessary condition for such a centralised data generating process would be to have a strong and efficient mechanism in place at the local level, supervised centrally across the country.
Keywords: Workers’ Remittances, RBI, IMF, NSS, Private Transfers, NRI Deposits
Diaspora Philanthropy from a Homeland Perspective: Reciprocity and Contestation over Donations in Central Gujarat, India
Authors: Natascha Dekkers and Mario Rutten
Financial flows are an important aspect of transnational ties between migrants and their respective home countries. Worldwide, the amount of remittances has increased substantially, India being the largest recipient of overseas remittances in the developing world today. Although household level remittances have received the most attention from scholars and policy makers, an increasing proportion of financial flows from migrants to their home countries consists of philanthropy. Additionally, studies on the economic and social impact of diaspora philanthropic activities in India emphasise the role of the migrants who send such transfers, while relatively little is known about the views and activities of the recipients in the home communities.
This paper deals with the philanthropic relations between Indian migrants and the local community in Gujarat from a homeland perspective. It is based on research in rural central Gujarat, one of the regions in India with a long history of migration abroad. The findings show that philanthropic relations between migrants and the home community entail both co-operation and tension. There are differing views on the nature of the gift giving process and these are related to status differences within the community, and between members of the local community and those who have settled abroad. Moreover, recent political changes in the home region have affected the organisational channels used to transfer philanthropic donations. The findings illustrate the ways in which local context shapes the nature and impact of diaspora philanthropic activities, thereby highlighting the territorial importance of ‘deterritorialised’ transnational ties.
Keywords: Diaspora Philanthropy, Transnationalism, Migration, India
Economics of Migration and Remittances: A Review Article
Author: Puja Guha
The economic discourse on migration and development has swung from the neo-classical developmentalist optimism of the 1950s to a somewhat pessimistic hypothesis of lost labour and brain drain of the 1970s, to a more nuanced view of the new economics of labour migration (NELM), which looks at the gains arising out of resource transfer from migrants in the host countries to their respective countries of origin. Not only has there been a paradigm shift in the discussions, there has also been a change in the approach to understanding the migration-development nexus. From the Lewisian dual economy model of rural-urban migration for factor price equalization, there has been a shift to, and a recent boom in, empirical work on remittances, which are viewed both as a return from the migration process and as an important source of development finance. The aim of this paper is to analyse the different generations of migration theory and remittances from the development economics perspective, examining in particular the dichotomy between economic and social theory in explaining the nexus between migration and development.
Keywords: Migration Theory, NELM, Development Theory, Remittances
Provincial Globalisation: Transnational Flows and Regional Development
Authors: Carol Upadhya and Mario Rutten
The relationship between migration and development is currently a key area in research and policymaking. The contributions of international migrants to their home countries in the form of remittances, investments, and philanthropic donations are widely regarded as an important source of development resources. This paper reviews the migration and development debate and the current state of knowledge about flows of migrant resources to India, pointing to gaps and shortcomings in the literature. It argues that the complexities and intricacies of both mobility and resource transfers need to be better mapped and disentangled by placing them within three (interconnected) contexts: (1) the transnational social fields that connect diasporic communities with their home regions; (2) the institutional structures, networks, and nodes through which both people and resources move; and (3) the specific histories and social/ political-economic formations of the regions from which migrants leave, and to which resources are transmitted. The paper concludes that tracing transnational connections and flows at the regional level will provide a more nuanced understanding of their social and economic implications for the home regions and for India as a whole.
Middling Migration: Contradictory Mobility Experiences of Indian Youth in London
Authors: Mario Rutten and Sanderien Verstappen
In this paper we examine the contradictory migration experiences of Indian youngsters who recently moved to Britain on a student or temporary work visa. All of them lived in London at the time of the interview, and are from middle class families in Gujarat. Like many of their peers in developing countries, they dreamed of going to the West to earn money, to study and to get experience in a foreign country to improve their prospects at home. Once in London, however, they ended up in low-status, semi-skilled jobs to cover their expenses, and lived in small guesthouses crammed with newly arrived migrants.
Why did these youngsters leave India and go to London, and what do they get by moving abroad? Based on long-term research in London and Gujarat, our findings show that the decision to migrate is shaped by a combination of individual and social motivations of both the young migrants and their families in India. Several youngsters moved to London not only to earn money and gain new experiences, but also to escape family pressures and obligations by living away from their parents. Their parents encourage them, and even support them, though they are aware of the difficulties their children face in London. They regard the migration as a temporary, but requisite precautionary strategy to maintain their status as middle class families in present-day India, thereby safeguarding the next generation's future prospects.
Keywords: Migration, Social Mobility, Youth, Middle Class, Britain, India
The returns from international migration often are examined only through household-level remittance transfers, to the neglect of other forms of migrant resource transfers. An important and often overlooked kind of migrant transfer is philanthropy or charitable donations. Remittances and philanthropy are usually treated separately in the literature, and often a dichotomised approach is adopted while examining the impacts of these transfers. This approach has created a gap in our understanding of the effects of migrants’ private transfers on the development of local and regional economies. This paper addresses this gap by bringing different forms of migrant transfers within a single framework, together referred to as migrants’ ‘private giving’.
The paper addresses the migration-development debate by developing a framework for understanding who are the migrants, what they are sending back, and how these transfers are being utilised in the local economy. It argues that the social backgrounds and migration histories of migrants – in terms of their destination of migration, duration of stay, and occupation – influence the nature of their private giving, which in turn can be mapped to development in the region. Taking the central region of Gujarat, India as a reference case, it traces the pattern of private giving by migrants from the region and their contribution to regional development. The data show that although household remittances are an important source of development finance in this region, diaspora philanthropy has contributed significantly to development.
Keywords: International Migration, Remittances, Philanthropy, Private Giving, Central Gujarat
The region of Coastal Andhra Pradesh has been an important source of Indian software engineers, mainly because of the dense concentration of private engineering colleges located there. The outward mobility of educated youth, who work as IT professionals in different cities in India and abroad, has created a pervasive social imaginary that equates an engineering degree, a software job, and migration (especially to the US) with economic success and social prestige. Catering to and fuelling these widespread aspirations is a burgeoning education industry, ranging from small ‘English-medium’ schools to expensive ‘corporate colleges’. The paper argues that a regional culture of migration has profoundly shaped not only the education sector but also popular social imaginaries and mobility strategies. These recent developments are contextualised more broadly within Andhra’s colonial and postcolonial social history and a specific regional formation of caste, class, and capital.