Dalit Migration, Diaspora and Development: Kerala and Punjab

S. Irudaya Rajan, Stephen Taylor, Vinod Kumar

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The states of Punjab and Kerala both have a long and continuing history of significant overseas emigration. Drawing upon original research, this chapter examines the extent to which the relationship between overseas migration and regional development is inclusive within these states, with particular reference to caste inequities. The authors investigate the role of Dalits within the international migration-development nexus within two regions where overseas migration is increasingly heralded as one of the main facilitators of social mobility, economic growth and regional development. The authors compare Punjab, which has witnessed significant Scheduled Caste overseas migration, including to Western societies, with Kerala, where international Dalit emigration has been insignificant, particularly to the Global North. The authors argue that the very small number of Keralan Dalit migrants overseas means a negligible relationship between Dalit migration and challenges to caste inequality there. However, even within Punjab, which has seen relatively high Dalit international migration, any concrete evidence of significant impact upon existing caste inequalities is limited. The authors’ argument supports those who have started to challenge previously dominant and celebratory discourses on the migration-development nexus by questioning an assumed positive impact of ‘transnationalism from below’ upon sending regions. However, this chapter is the first to undertake such critical questioning of Dalit transnationalism, which is often taken as automatically progressive in challenging inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIndia Migration Report 2017: Forced Migration
EditorsS. Irudaya Rajan
Place of PublicationNew Delhi and London
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781351188753
ISBN (Print)9780815369905
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2017


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