The gulf in wages makes life harsh as Indian workers return home

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The gulf in wages makes life harsh as Indian workers return home

Once heroes, India’s ex-Gulf workers forge new futures as pandemic causes biggest return of overseas workers in 50 years

Roli Srivastava and Rakesh Nair

It is not yet dawn but Yeroor village is long awake, the hum of productivity floating over “Gulf Street”, a lush green boulevard named for the thousands of workers who leave the southern Indian state of Kerala every year for jobs in the Middle East.

But now the workers are back, from machine operator Sudheesh Kumar, who has been forced back into manual labour in Yeroor to make ends meet, to former banker Binoj Kuttappan, who has taken up dog breeding in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

In the single biggest reverse migration in more than 50 years, workers from the Gulf have streamed back to the coastal state of Kerala in the past year, propelled by a pandemic that deflated dreams of overseas riches and changing family fortunes...

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