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The World Bank recently reported that India has displaced China and Mexico to be the country to receive the highest remittances in the world. Indians working abroad sent back over $ 25.7 billion (Rs.128,500 crores) in 2006 followed by Mexico with $24.7 billion, China with $ 22.5 and The Philippines with $ 14.9 billion. Interestingly, the money received by India through this route is roughly the same as the country’s total estimated annual expenditure on defence, or about five times the estimated expenditure on education in 2007-08. Total income tax and wealth tax collections in the country are less than the remittances received. And they are over three times the foreign direct investment in the country in 2006. Sheer numbers and relatively higher skill levels appear to be driving the growth in Indian remittances. The World Bank study estimates that the number of Indian immigrants is about 10 million. Mexico and Russia are the top immigrant sending countries with an estimated 11.5 immigrants each. The bulk of remittances are being sent not by highly skilled professionals like doctors or software engineers, but by more humdrum workers, wage employees and service providers. A study conducted by the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, showed over 25% of households in Kerala have at least one person working abroad. With the rapid appreciation of the Indian rupee, immigrant workers abroad will have to earn and send much more in the coming years to maintain their families in India with the same standards of living.

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