Barmer : Barmer, the second largest district of India in terms of geographic spread, constitutes a major part of the hostile terrains of Thar Desert. The primary occupation of local inhabitants is rain-fed agriculture followed by livestock rearing, and there is a general lack of infrastructure facilities like roads, electricity, good schools and quality health care.  However, slowly but surely, a transformation is taking place in the socio-economic landscape of Barmer. Cairn India, the fastest growing energy Company in the world according to Platts, is working with the local communities and other partners on several initiatives which contribute to the development of the region.

As part of its endeavour to make a positive difference in the lives of the local community, Cairn India has launched ‘Samvriddhi’- a rural BPO initiative – in collaboration with RuralShores and Barmer Zilla Parishad. Samvriddhi aims to create economic independence among local youth, especially women, by providing them white-collar jobs in the IT enabled services (ITeS) domain.

The program provides customized courses that train the local youth on skills required to work as data processors and call-centre workers. It is especially targeted at women, thereby empowering them towards becoming financially independent. The Rural BPO Project is the first-of-its-kind in the western Rajasthan and marks the entry of ITeS in the region. Today the BPO handles non-voice (data entry) and voice processes for telecom, insurance and banking clients. Employees are also equipped to handle non-voice processes such as indexing, image tagging (for online shopping), and data tagging-publishing. Mahavir Singh, BDO- Baytoo said “Without the help extended by Samvriddhi, it would have been impossible for us to have the thousands of pension forms digitized on time. We look forward to working with them on other digitization works such as the Aadhar Project and NREGA project.” Currently about 90 youths are employed through this program, but a recent contract with a large telecom provider, which will make this one of the regional tele-customer-service hubs for the company, will see the number of people rise to 350. The BPO is a 90-seater facility and will employ 180 people in two shifts at peak operations.  Vidya who enrolled for CEC training has made her way into Samvriddhi. Currently Vidya is completing her B.A and has decided to work with the BPO after her studies. With a glint in her eyes she speaks of the change that Samvriddhi’s center has brought about in her life. “Earlier we never got an opportunity to work on a computer but here I get to learn so many different things every day”.

Many local youth like Vidya can now look forward to career opportunities in their own region and instead of migrating to more industrialized neighboring cities. This rural BPO has opened up new opportunities for the youth of Barmer and aims to be a harbinger for greater positive change in the community.  The social impact of a rural BPO is huge as well, such as industry linkages which can redefine mind sets about rural areas as delivery centres; larger government initiatives leading to faster talent development and revamped state run schemes, all contributing to significant development in the region. The project works in a public-private partnership model. The building to house the BPO has been provided by the Barmer Zila Parishad, Cairn has provided the initial capital expenditure and setup costs, and Rural Shores is the implementation partner.

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