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India’s Rural BPO Scheme

For many years, India had been eyeing to put up call centers in its rural districts. This project by India’s government is to give employment to the many more citizens who need better-paying jobs, lessen migration and to expand the BPO industry in the country.

Reported by Economictimes.indiatimes.com, the government has finally pulled the strings to push through with its long-planned vision. At the end of this month, request for proposals for the rural BPO scheme is likely to float as the Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY) is in process of getting necessary approvals to invite bids.

The India BPO Promotion Scheme is a program headed by Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad as a part of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s bigger vision to a “Digital India”. It aims mainly in making available job opportunities to the youth in semi-urban areas.

In 2011 to 2012, India’s BPO industry had aggregate revenues of about $101 billion according to reports by Frost and Sullivan research, and was expected to grow by 5.3% by 2016. With India’s domestic BPO market is said to have earned $1.4 billion in 2011, rural BPO’s have a tiny fraction of about $5-7 million. Revenue, however, is a growing potential at 150-200% rate that time. Now that the government has recognized and is currently sorting out plans to push through with the overall vision.

Limitations

In an online article entitled “Rural BPO Programme: Impact and Implications” by S Nayana Tara et. al., the professor in collaboration with some of her students expressed their thoughts about the topic through writing. Here are some of the limitations of the programs they cited:

Language

The shortage of skilled labor has been a long identified problem and also, one of the reason of the decline in India’s BPO industry. Call center trainers often find it difficult to train employees to the satisfactory skills levels required to work on a specific problem. On a larger sense, it is because of this concern that BPO companies in India cannot commit to a huge project because of the lack of workforce.

Procuring Projects

Since the Rural BPO centers are still relatively new in the industry, it would still require time to build up their credibility and create their own brand image. Any business doesn’t start easy.

Lack of discipline

Most BPO companies encounter problems with punctuality and employee reliability. Lack of discipline among BPO employees isn’t only a problem in India but also in the Philippines.

Interference by local authorities

Ideally, government should look out for the interest of the public but in a typical democracy, it goes the other way around. It is a very common situation among BPO centers wherein local officials interfere with the growth and development of the industry.

Attrition

Many professionals don’t consider a career in the BPO industry a reliable and permanent one. This is the hard truth that every company needs to strategize a solution for.

The future of the Rural BPO Scheme

Faced with loopholes in terms of operation and execution, the program still holds much promise. The program answers issues like poverty, unemployment and the need to maintain the BPO business in the country. If done successfully, the program can be a champion political publicity for the administration to prove that they have done their part in building India the brightest and the vastest future horizon.

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