Thiruvananthapuram, May 1 (IANS) In a first of its kind, a survey on the exact number of Keralites living abroad commenced from the city's outskirts Wednesday.
Kerala Diaspora Minister K.C. Joseph inaugurated the state-wide survey, expected to end June 12.
The Kerala diaspora is said to be close to 2.5 million and living mostly in the Middle East.
The state government is expected to come out with a comprehensive package for the diaspora and also the returnees once the survey details are published.
Speaking to IANS, Joseph said the central government was conducting an all-India survey and the Kerala government decided to use the exercise by joining an additional questionnaire to collect information on Kerala diaspora from each household.
"As a token, I inaugurated the survey by speaking to two families living on the outskirts of the city," said Joseph.
The all-India survey is being carried out with the assistance of officials from the Kerala department of economics and statistics which comes under Joseph.
The minister said: "In the diaspora survey, we have ensured that no question is asked about the financial aspect of migration - like remittances."
"We have realised that if we add such questions, the participation from the households would not be there," added Joseph.
The non-resident Keralite affairs department is also playing a key role in the state-wide survey. The government has allocated Rs.1.95 crore to the department for the task.
"While the details of the survey done by the centre would be analysed by them, the diaspora survey would be analysed by my department by June," said Joseph.