With Patna this week, mission to spread BPO centres to small cities gathers steam

New Delhi, May 10 In a move that could herald an IT revolution in smaller cities, the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) is all set to launch 1,000 seats in Patna this week, which is likely to create roughly 1,500 vacancies in the country’s business process outsourcing (BPO) sector.

Functioning under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the STPI has plans to launch 48,000 such seats across the country, with a target employment of 72,450 in the sector, but restricting itself to tier-II and III cities as part of its India BPO Promotion Scheme (IBPS).

The scheme is being executed by allocating seats across 50 cities in 20 states. Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), where this week’s 1,000 seats will be inaugurated, is one of the bidders.

The initiative, the first of its kind in Bihar, targets employing youth from cities like Muzaffarpur and Dalsinghsarai in the state.

Besides, it also aims to hire youth in cities across India, including Raipur, Siliguri, Shimla, Sopore, Dehradun, Salem, Kozhikode, Tiruchi, Sagar, Nagpur, Ghazipur, Bareilly, Jhansi, Unnao and Varanasi.

“This is for the first time that the industry would set foot in Bihar. A total of 4,600 seats had been fixed for Bihar alone, of which 1,910 seats have already been allotted. IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will inaugurate the 1,000 seats at TCS on Thursday,” STPI Director General Dr. Omkar Rai told.

Based on a 24X7 model and a minimum 50 per cent additional vacancy on one seat (minimum 1,500 vacancies for 1,000 seats), STPI feels that, in the near future, they would be able to optimise the potential of each seat — three jobs for one seat.

Officials said that beside 48,000 pan-India seats, 5,000 additional seats had been created for the north-eastern states.

Speaking of STPI’s aspirations, Rai said that initially operations in tier II-III cities would be comparatively small, but would gradually expand.

“We are trying to light a bulb here. India is reputed for its IT industry. The idea of this scheme is not just limited to generating employment or creating an IT revolution in small cities, it’s also about taking certain IT processes from metros to smaller places,” Rai said.

As per the STPI’s vision, the BPO’s profile is not limited to IT or software only; the seats planned and offered by it also seek to outsource operations from sectors like healthcare, manufacturing, construction, financial services and the hotel industry.

“Ten years from now, places like Gurugram and Pune will have less such processes. Jobs will shift to tier-III cities with only high-end and leadership positions in the big cities. Slowly, the top positions will also shift,” Rai said.

The idea is to engage the manpower that migrates to big cities to perform the same work and draw almost same salaries , according to officials.

Another reason is to maintain India’s global tag of “best-suited destination” for outsourcing by cutting down the operational cost, as countries like Philippines and Bangladesh are also emerging as options.

“It’s important that BPOs move from tier-I cities… Costs in tier-III cities are much less. The idea is to harness the problem-solving generation in the small cities and provide them a global process-based job in their cities,” Rai said.

With the creation of one vacancy in the IT sector, as is being done in Bihar, three additional jobs would be created, including in allied fields like logistics and support.

“So, speaking of Bihar, space for about 7,000 manpower is being created, which would create allied jobs to the tune of 25,000,” Rai said. The total number could vary in individual states, depending on local conditions.

Counting on the aspirations of Indian youth and the reputation of the Indian IT sector, the STPI, on the lines of an incubator, is now seeking to tap potential start-ups.

“Next time you pass through Bihar in a train, try using a Patna-based start-up called Rail Restaurant… Such small initiatives will soon become a driving force in cities of Bihar and small towns of the nation,” Rai said.

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