Taking technology to the villages will never be more monumental if BPOs setup fully operational units in villages across India. If the government handles infrastructure problems without the usual bureaucratic red tape India might witness a revolution that will change her fate. Off course its all a big 'if' right now, though 'if' such a venture take off, it will rake in much profit for the BPOs, as the land, the work force and everything else will come much cheaper in villages.
Communications and IT minister Dayanidhi Maran was talking of a similar revolution on Wednesday when he said that the government would remove all regulatory barriers to enable rural India to offer IT-enabled and BPO services, 'The burgeoning Indian ITES-BPO sector can now view villages across the country as its next destination for launching their services and access manpower, thanks to cheaper bandwidth and higher tele-density,' Maran said at the ninth edition of the India ITES-BPO Strategic summit, organised by Nasscom.
Treating the BPO industry as a showcase sector, the minister said the government was crafting 'out-of-the-box' strategies to push it forward to realise the vision for the segment, as set forth in the Nasscom-McKinsey study 2005, and achieve the target of $60 billion in IT and BPO export revenues by 2010 and employ about 2.3 million people as against 1.3 million currently.
Lauding the unorthodox decision of some leading Indian BPOs to set up their units in small towns and hamlets, Maran said though such operations were modest in size and used predominantly for the internal requirements, they could be expanded to provide back office services to their global customers.
'BPO units in rural India will not only be able to create jobs for the local populace, but also expose them to a hi-tech industry where they can eventually grow and build careers. Cheaper connectivity translates into higher telecom penetration and the inclusion of people who would otherwise remain marginalised,' Maran told about 500 delegates participating in the two-day event.
Similarly, the ITES-BPO sector can rope in thousands of educated, English-speaking home-makers - women, who are unable to take up outside jobs due to family commitments, retired professionals and unemployed graduates for tapping the global business potential of back office operations.
'Drastic reduction in bandwidth costs will allow BPO firms to take new and innovative routes for expanding geographic spread and achieve greater market penetration,' the minister pointed out.
Terming the BPO industry as a child of the ongoing telecom revolution, which made remote delivery of a host of services feasible at lower cost, Maran said a fast growing wireline network, boosted by a lowering of bandwidth prices, was enabling the country and its citizens to be linked by a common, readily accessible thread.
'Rural telephony is no longer a dream. PCOs (public phone booths) dot India's hinterland, bridging the gap between the urban elite and the village folk. The telecom network touches citizens from virtually all walks of life, social and economic strata, culturally diverse backgrounds and ages. Such a vast seamless network provides the BPOs a virgin human capital to tap,' Maran told the ITES-BPO industry leaders.
Using technology as an enabler and the telecom network as the backbone, BPOs can integrate millions of citizens into their extended work groups. 'From home users to home workers' should be the success mantra for the IT industry, he said.
Referring to the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act, 2005, Maran said a legislation covering the SEZ scheme was being fine-tuned by a group of ministers to address the industry's concerns.
'My ministry is fully supportive of the industry stand that SEZ for IT need not have a specified minimum area. It could be subject to a minimum built-up area, depending on the category of the city where the SEZ will be located. The revised rules will be announced soon,' Maran added.