Why many nurses in Kerala are still forced to migrate out of India to find work
The wages paid in hospitals across the country do not guarantee them enough to live on leave and pay off student loans on their own, say nurses TNM spoke to.
* Nimmy joined a general nursing and midwifery course after completing her 12th grade. Nimmy took out a loan of Rs 1.5 lakh to attend the three and a half year course. After completing it in 2011, she started working at a private hospital in Bangalore. After two years she moved to Calcutta where she worked for another three years. However, his jobs, both in Bangalore and Calcutta, did not pay enough to pay the monthly loan payment and then send a decent sum to his family.
“The initial salary for the position in Calcutta was 7,500 rupees per month, which was later increased to 13,000 rupees per month. In Bangalore, the salary was around 20,000 rupees per month,” Nimmy told TNM . She then emigrated to Israel in 2019, where she now works as a caregiver and receives a salary of around Rs 1.5 lakh per month. Nimmy’s life is a classic example of how dozens of Keralites even choose conflict-affected countries to make a decent living. She represents many people who have had to migrate to faraway destinations to work, not only to pay off their student loans, but even to make ends meet.
“The number of people who get nursing degrees in Kerala is very high. Even families who are financially well off are investing money in their children to pursue nursing education,” said Irudaya Rajan, trends specialist. migration in Kerala. “The loan has to be repaid on what they start to earn. This is one of the fundamental reasons why they immigrate, to earn more money and to repay their loans,” he added. Irudaya Rajan was a faculty member at the Center for Development Studies at Thiruvananthapuram. Currently, he is the founding president of the International Institute for Migration and Development.
“The salary of nurses working in private hospitals in Kerala is very low. In some hospitals, it is even lower than the salary given under Mahatma Gandhi’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, under which a daily bet is paid 200 rupees per day. working in one of the private hospitals in Kerala, these nurses will not be able to earn enough to reimburse the money spent on their studies. Therefore, they are forced to try jobs abroad, ”added Irudaya Rajan. nurses are forced to sign bonds for two years in hospitals here where they work for meager wages, but working in a foreign country allows them to earn a fair amount of money and allows them to repay their loans ”, a- he added.
“If we start talking about our plight, there will be no end to it,” said * Raji, a nurse from Idukki. “In Kerala, nursing is one of the most underpaid jobs. We earn less than the daily wages of workers. For a worker in Kerala, the daily wage varies between Rs 800 and Rs 900 per day, in addition, their other expenses such as food are covered. But for a nurse, the daily salary is less than Rs 400, while the working hours are even longer, ”she added. Raji, who now works in Israel, said she chose a nursing career in the hope that it would make it easy for her to find a job and secure her future. Reality struck after I finished my studies. If we were duly paid in our country, we would not have to leave our land, ”Raji told TNM.
A Keralite, Soumya Santhosh of Idukki, was working in Ashkelon in Israel when she was recently killed in an airstrike. Like Nimmy, Soumya also came from a modest family and financial constraints forced her to choose Israel for work. “Even for a family of four, we need at least 10,000 rupees to cover expenses for a month, although we are careful. How could we even send 1,000 rupees home on top of setting aside money for loan repayment, with a monthly salary of Rs 7,500 or Rs 13,000, ”Nimmy asked.
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In fact, nurses working in private hospitals in Kerala had staged protests lasting several months between 2017 and 2018 to seek a salary review. In accordance with the government notification issued following the protest, the minimum wage for nurses has been raised to 20,000 rupees. Previously, a compensation review was last implemented in January 2013.
Read: Kerala nurses call off strike as government issues payroll review notification
According to Raji, besides being underpaid, what also worries nursing graduates is the lack of respect for the profession in Kerala. “In Israel, the situation is totally different, the respect we get is enormous. It is a comfort when we live in a foreign land, leaving our children and family at home,” Raji added. In a survey conducted by Irudaya Rajan and KC Zachariah, a researcher also specializing in migration, there are 21.21,887 emigrants from Kerala across the world. Although the study is carried out every five years, no specific data is available from the department as to which countries are most popular to work for non-resident Keralites.
Irudaya Rajan said a shift in the Keralite migration pattern has started over the past 10 to 15 years. Now, from the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Keralites are moving to other parts of the world. “It’s not just Israel, countries in Europe like Germany are emerging as popular destinations for Keralite jobs,” he said.