Kerala leader sees immense role for expats in rebuilding flood-battered state


Saudi Gazette

Kerala has witnessed extraordinary ‘flooding’ with love and empathy crossing all barriers of religion, caste and creed when the masses joined together in helping hundreds of thousands of their fellow beings afflicted by the worst flood disaster to hit the southern Indian state in a century. It was a unique tale of survival by holding fast to unity and love by all segments of the society, according to Prof. Abdul Wahab, chairman of the Kerala State Minority Development Finance Corporation (KSMDFC) and president of the state unit of Indian National League (INL). The worst deluge caused colossal damage to the state, leaving more than 360 people dead and over one million others displaced apart from destroying thousands of homes and infrastructures worth billions of rupees.

Speaking to Saudi Gazette, Abdul Wahab said that expatriates have a significant role to play in the massive reconstruction of the state, which is estimated to cost over Rs300 billion. He said that the government of Kerala aims to leverage from the potential of new technologies in rebuilding the flood-battered state. “The extraordinary courage and will power of the society was instrumental in mitigating tremendously the devastating impact of the flooding. All the sections of the society, especially the youth and the fishermen community, joined together in carrying out rescue operations and giving succor to the flood victims.” He urged expatriates to come forward with a blueprint to lend a helping hand to the government in its mammoth task of rebuilding the flood-ravaged state with their project proposals and financial help.

Replying to the job crisis faced by some sections of expatriates, Abdul Wahab said that there is no need for concern for the Gulf returnees. “There are a lot of opportunities awaiting the returnees back home. They can utilize the vast experience and expertise acquired in the Gulf in setting up of employment schemes and entrepreneurial projects in the state,” he said while highlighting the benefits of wider global exposure to expatriates in helping them convert challenges into opportunities.

He noted that there would be a qualitative leap in the employment market and business sector with a facelift encompassing almost all traditional sectors in the state in the post-flooding scenario. “Expatriates can come up with and plans and projects in keeping pace with the emerging fast changes in the state,” he said while pledging full support of the government in this respect.

Abdul Wahab said that KSMDFC would remain a stellar pillar in supporting the Gulf returnees. “During the Nitaqat Amnesty period, the corporation had extended loans to several expatriates who returned to Kerala after losing their jobs in Saudi Arabia. The corporation is also giving visa loans for those who are intending to go to the Gulf states as well as to Europe but cannot afford visa expenses.

“The corporation is carrying out massive awareness campaign about its schemes and support programs for its beneficiaries, who include followers of six religious minorities in the country. More than 60 such programs have already been conducted,” he said while noting that there has been a significant increase in the number of beneficiaries of these schemes.

Abdul Wahab spelled out various schemes and financial support programs as part of empowering minorities, especially expatriates, in the state. “We are extending loans up to Rs600,000 for the Gulf returnees to set up self employment schemes. The corporation gives various types of loans, including those for education, housing, expansion of businesses, supporting minority institutions, and special loan scheme for teachers of Islamic schools,” he said.

The chairman specially noted about a special scheme of microfinance loans for women from minority communities. These loans, with attractive terms, will be given to collective initiatives of women with at least two years of experience in the field. The corporation will extend all the support for marketing the products of these initiatives apart from organizing employment-training programs for them. The corporation also undertakes free coaching centers for new entrepreneurs and premarital awareness centers for the youth in all parts of the state.

KSMDFC was created in 2013 with a capital of Rs1 billion as per the recommendation of the Paloli Committee, which was constituted as part of implementing the Sachar Committee Report in the state. The corporation acts as a franchisee of the National Minority Development Finance Corporation, a government of India undertaking.

Meanwhile, the Jeddah chapter of the Indian Muslim Cultural Center (IMCC) organized a reception for Abdul Wahab at Zafiro Restaurant Sharafiyah during his recent visit to the city. Syed Shahul Hameed Mangalore, treasurer of the GCC committee of IMCC, inaugurated the function, presided over by K.P. Abubakar, president of the Saudi national committee of IMCC. Those who spoke on the occasion included V.K.A Rauf (Navodaya Cultural Forum), Abdul Majeed Naha (Overseas Indian Cultural Congress), Sathar (New Age), C.K Muhammad Najeeb (Thanima Cultural Forum), Abbas Chemban (Jeddah Indian Haj Welfare Forum), Salah Karadan (Indian Islahi Center), Ismail Kallayi (Pravasi), Beerankutty (ISF), Ibrahim Cheruvadi (IDC), Mujeeb A.R Nagar (ICF), Fadal Rahman (Jamiyatul Ansar), Ashiq (JIIC), Rafeeq Sullami (Wisdom), Vijas Faisi (Ajwa), Abdurahman Kavungal (Alumni of PSMO College), and Akbar Ponnani. Earlier, the function began with recitation of a few verses from the Holy Qur’an by Sahal Kalambrattil. A.M Abdullakutty welcomed the gathering and Abdurahman Kalambrattil proposed the vote of thanks.