If it is difficult for you to find a plumber or welder in Tamil Nadu, social scientists have a valid explanation for that: most of them have migrated to the Gulf countries. According to professor S. Irudaya Rajan of the Research Unit on International Migration, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, in the years 2006-2008, remittances from Tamils working abroad stood at a whopping Rs.41,400 crore, second only to Kerala.

However, absence of reliable data on the socio-economic profile of Tamil migrants, both inter-state and international, has resulted in a major policy vacuum in this area which is a serious cause for concern, experts say.

“Recent research has revealed that more than Kerala migrants, it is migrants from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh who were seriously affected by the financial crisis in the Middle East and elsewhere, but while the Kerala government created a rehabilitation programme for returning migrants, the Tamil Nadu government has done nothing,” Prof. Rajan said.

Bernard D’Sami, coordinator, Arunodaya Migrants Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, said most migrants from Tamil Nadu were unskilled and semi-skilled and were employed in mostly unsafe jobs such as high-rise construction.

R. Geetha of the Unorganised Workers Federation stressed on the abysmal working conditions of Tamil migrants in other states.

At a two-day State-level stakeholder’s workshop on migrant child labour organised by the Labour and Employment Department here in Chennai, Raman Mahadevan of the Institute of Development Alternatives, too highlighted the need to address the issues of out-migrants from Tamil Nadu.

A senior official in the Labour Department told The Hindu that the idea of constituting a Migrant Labour Cell in the Labour Commissioner’s office had been mooted in the draft action plan tabled at the workshop and that it was now up to the State government to take a policy decision on the issue.