I was recently interviewed by Kanchan Banerjee, the editor of New Global Indian. The interview touched on many aspects of migration and development that may interest you. Thanks to Kanchan for giving us permission to reproduce the interview below.
KB- About half a decade ago, you were among the first in the world to figure out the first global tally of remittances, what was the result?
DR-The money that migrants send home turned out to be way larger than I expected, the finding actually stunned experts in the field. Gathered from a trickle of hard-earned cash, believe it or not, remittances are larger than $300 billion a year. Compare that with official aid flows which are just about $100 billion a year.
KB-Today you are a leading figure in the area of Migration and Development. What are the factors that attracted you to work on the two related areas of development in today's inter-connected world?
DR- As a migrant myself, I am deeply interested in the phenomenon of migration and remittances. Before Y2K, I was actually talking with friends about starting a money transfer service to India from the US! The main reason for my interest in migration is that it produces instant poverty corrupt practices. This enables a poor person to hold his/her head high in the society. When migrants send money, it helps not only the immediate family members and friends, but also indirectly the local community. I call remittances 'value-added money' because it is not only the dollar that comes in, each dollar also comes with advice on what to do with it. Also remittances are friends in foul weather they increase when the recipient is facing difficult times. There are about 200 million migrants worldwide, supporting as many if not more people at home. That suggests that remittances may reach almost a tenth of the world's population.