GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Irudaya Rajan
Title of Paper:
Migration (in) flux: Impact of Legislation on Irregular Mobility between India and Saudi Arabia
Paper Proposal Text :
Despite policies of highly regulated entry and recent regularization drives, the Gulf States have a sizeable share of irregular workers, who live and work in precarious conditions (RMMS 2014). Rigid sponsorship systems, nationalisation policies and limited quotas for foreign worker visas in the receiving context, coupled with the operation of informal economies, networks and migration intermediaries at the sending country, allows for the operation of clandestine immigration pathways and a parallel labour market. Drawing on analysis from the recently concluded Kerala Migration Survey 2014 and data made available through the Gulf Labour Markets and Migration (GLMM) program (Alsheikh 2015; Hertog 2014), the paper will present a case study of irregular migratory movements from India to Saudi Arabia with a view to unpack the structural frameworks that create conditions of irregular migration in the region. This is particularly relevant given that Indian migration to Saudi Arabia has remained relatively steady in the face of the 2008 financial crisis (Rajan and Narayana 2010), renewed Saudization efforts and the 2013 “correction” drive (Zachariah et al 2014). The paper further examines the socio-legalconditions under which migrants are made irregular and the informal practices that are implicitly institutionalized. In doing so,the paper makes a distinction between human smuggling (Içduygu and Toktas 2002), irregular migration as a pre-/post- migration strategy (Shah 2009) and as an unintended outcome of policies and legislation on either end of the migration corridor. Finally, the paper points towards coordinated strategies to stymie the irregular flow of labour from India and ensure safe, informed and legal immigration to Saudi Arabia.