India’s star state of Kerala left reeling as Gulf migrants return

KC Yusuf left home almost 30 years ago to work at hotel kitchens in Kuwait, one of millions from the southern Indian state of Kerala who travelled to the Gulf in search of a livelihood.

Mr Yusuf sent about Rs10,000 ($134) back to Ernakulam, his home city, every month, where he built a three-room home and helped support an extended family of 12.

But the 65-year-old had to fly home last month after the hotel where he worked was forced to shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. His youngest son, who was employed at a bakery in Ernakulam, is also out of work.

“I have no money left,” he said. “I came back from Kuwait empty-handed when the hotel closed down. It’s got really tough now.”

Mr Yusuf is one of hundreds of thousands of Keralans who are expected to return from the Gulf this year, according to Irudaya Rajan, a professor at the Centre for Development Studies.

Kerala, a coastal state of about 35m people, has been lauded internationally for its strong public health response to coronavirus, which helped quash early outbreaks even as the virus accelerated around much of India and the globe.

But the mass…

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