India receives a large sum of foreign currency remittances from its significant number of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled immigrants in affluent countries. In fact, India is the highest receiver of remittances in the world as of April 2018 at $69 billion, a World Bank report said. China ($64 billion), Philippines ($33 billion) and Mexico ($31 billion) followed in that order.
In terms of state contribution, according to an RBI (Reserve Bank of India) survey, four states make up for nearly half of these receipts. South Indian states of Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu make up for 46 percent or $31.74 billion (Rs 2.3 lakh crore) of the $69 billion remittances that India received from its citizens working abroad in 2017. Out of these, Kerala was the biggest contributor at $13.11 billion, which makes for 19 percent of the total. This was followed by Maharashtra at 16.7 percent or $11.52 billion, Karnataka at 15 percent ($10.35 billion), Tamil Nadu at 8 percent and New Delhi at 5.9 percent.
From the total remittances, 82 percent came from 7 countries, namely, the UAE, the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman. Over 90 percent of the Indians working overseas are placed in the Gulf region and South East Asia, mainly in unskilled or semi-skilled labour. Indian residents in the US are considered highly skilled and were the second largest contributors after those in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
The RBI survey also showed that most of these remittances were used for family maintenance, followed by bank deposits and investment in property.