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Friday, August 19, 2005

India’s Digital Economy & Rural Change Agents

(Via Bloomberg)Have no doubt about India’s ability to sustain India's competitive advantage in back-office tasks by looking at the greed of college undergraduates in India. Even as youngsters in cities such as Bangalore price themselves out of the low-end, back- office market, India won't send back those jobs to other countries. Andy Mukherjee highlights, the work will be taken up by a 2.5 million-strong pool of jobseekers aged 20 to 24 who have at least an undergraduate degree and who live in villages where the cost of living is much lower than in cities. He quotes Satyam Computer's Chairman B. Ramalinga Raju as saying most support tasks are ripe for "virtual delivery" because falling costs of communication hardware will make it possible to ship work to villages that are otherwise difficult to reach & Raju attributes that due to disappearing distance, - "There's absolutely no difference between the work done in Hyderabad and Bangalore and what can potentially be done at the center in the village".
Specialised managers look after harnessing that potential. Satyam doesn't plan to send any of its clients' work to villages. The company's involvement will be limited to transferring to the rural back-office some of its 200-odd internal support tasks ranging from human resources and accounting to performance management. GramIT, another project, is also seeking work from a hospital in Hyderabad to manage their patient records out of the village center. Technology may also help bridge the educational gap faced by students in under-equipped village schools. IBM supplies free computers to poor children to play games and learn english. Educational CDs designed by the Azim Premji Foundation, related to Wipro Ltd., are taking 9-year-olds on a space odyssey. Byrraju foundation associated with Satyam helps village community pool money to set up a plant that's pumping out bacteria-free water at 3 U.S. cents for 12 liters. Coca-Cola Co.'s mineral water sells in India for 28 cents a liter. None of these efforts can compensate for the failure of the Indian state. The digital economy is showing that India could be much more competitive than even its policy makers realize.When raw talent/ good personnel resources can be harnessed and organised to provide results with a business/result focus - eneormous potential gets unleashed - mark this - more and more human resources would begin to get channelised for opportunities like this in the coming years.

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