With a view to providing opportunities in rural areas and discouraging migration to urban centres, the state government has rolled out an 'Enhanced Rural BPO (business process outsourcing) Policy' with incentives for entrepreneurs and companies setting up BPOs in villages.
The new policy, promised by the AIADMK government in the 2011-2012 budget and released on June 1, 2012, is a modification of the first one rolled out by the DMK government in February 2010. As against a capital subsidy of Rs 3 lakh provided in the first policy, the new one promises a capital subsidy of 20% on hardware and equipment, subject to a maximum of Rs 5 lakh. However, training subsidy has been halved to Rs 2.25 lakh from Rs 4.5 lakh.
Also, in the new policy, there are additions like transport facility and exemption on earnest money deposit in case the BPOs bid for government works. The reluctance of BPOs to venture into rural Tamil Nadu has prompted the government to come out with a separate policy for this sector. Most BPO operations are centered around Chennai and Coimbatore and to some extent in Madurai and Trichy.
Former Krishnagiri district collector Santhosh Babu should be credited with promoting the rural BPOs concept in Tamil Nadu. During his tenure as collector, he promoted the first rural BPO in the country at Sanasandiram near Hosur in August 2007 to train and employ Naxal-affected youth who had studied at least up to Class 10.
Four months later, another BPO was opened at Alapatti village in Krishnagiri. In due course, more centres were opened at Uthangarai (where a Naxal shootout was reported as late as 2002), Maganurpatti and Mittapalli, all in the same district. However, once Babu moved out, these centres lost their sheen due to disinterest of his successors.
Babu, as MD of the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu, was again instrumental in promoting GRG-SCOPE Rural BPO, an initiative by the GRG Trust of Coimbatore and Scope International (whollyowned subsidiary of Standard Chartered Bank) at Masinagudi in the Nilgiris district in December 2010.
The centre employs 40 tribal girls who work on a platform developed by Scope International for simplified data entry of forms. The centre is doing well, said a Scope official.
Rural BPOs have a significant cost advantage compared to their urban counterparts in taking up outsourced works like data entry, data processing, data creation, document conversion, digitization, customer service, handling help desk, providing technical support etc.
"As against a salary commitment of Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 for urban BPOs, the rural ones attract talent for as low as Rs 7000 to Rs 8000," said an official.