Outsourcing jobs arrive in India's rural areas

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Bagepalli (Karnataka), Nov.13 (ANI): Seventy percent of Indians live in rural areas like Bagepalli in Karnataka's Chikballapur district, and everyone knows that India has been struggling unsuccessfully with the question of how to lift this vast underclass out of poverty.

While some economists argue that India still needs rapid urbanization if it is ever to become a major economic power, the founders of Rural Shores, have taken the bull by the horns and set up outsourcing offices in rural areas, believing it makes more sense to take jobs to where the people are.

The New York Times quotes said G. Srinivasan, the company's director, as saying: "We thought, 'Why not take the jobs to the village? There is a lot of talent there, and we can train them to do the job."

Rural India has been often seen as a dead weight on the Indian economy, a bastion of backwardness embodied by the frequent suicides of farmers eking out livings from arid fields, dependent upon fickle monsoons, but now according to the NYT, Indian and foreign companies have come to see India's backwaters as an untapped market for relatively inexpensive goods like low-tech cell phones, kitchen gadgets and cheap motorcycles.

Some businesses have begun looking to rural India for an untapped pool of eager and motivated office workers.

For instance, Rural Shores has hired about 100 young people, most of them high school graduates who have completed some college, all of them from rural areas around this small town. The company has three centres now, but it aims to open 500 centres across India in the next five years.

Most of the center's employees are the first members of their families to have office jobs. They speak halting English at best, but have enough skill with the language to do basic data entry, read forms and even write simple e-mail messages, says the NYT.

With much lower rent and wages than other similar centers in cities, the company says it can do the same jobs as many outsourcing companies at half the price.

A Bangalore office worker with skills similar to those of workers here commands about 7,000 rupees a month (150 dollars), Srinivasan says.

In small towns and villages, a minimum-wage salary of about 60 dollars a month is considered excellent.

Twenty-four-year-old R. Saicharan, a business school graduate from Chennai, described the work that he does as frenetic at best.

He says that he and other employees at Rural Shores process 13,000 time sheets by 7 p.m. every day.

The time sheets belong to American truck drivers, and Rural Shores has been hired as a subcontractor for a larger outsourcing company in Bangalore to do the data entry portion of the work.

The race is almost always on to earn bonuses for being the fastest typist.

A majority of the workers are the children of farmers and often the first generation to finish high school. For many, a job at an outsourcing center is an unimaginable opportunity, says the paper. (ANI)

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