Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rural Tech Bio?

Love, the longing for beauty, the thirst for religion, the yearning for truth: these are all eminently human energies, and through the expression and manifestation of these energies great changes are brought about in the human environment.

(Daisaku Ikeda, contemporary thinker)

Green, lean, alive, and creating wholeness. CFLs, carbon credits, LCD monitors, timed devices. This would sum up the traditional paradigm of the man-environment matrix. Translate it to governance or a corporate-financial framework and we can still work within this paradigm. It is a very comforting one. We can, today, trade environment.

Doctus, a group of ITES/BPO units based in Hyderabad, set out in 2006 to redefine this understanding of the environment and to rethink what we can do to create the future we want . At the heart of this endeavor was the conviction that the environment, whether it be in administration of the land, education, business, or at the more simplistic level, in the fields of green and gold that embody the richness of our country, is but a reflection of our selves. Our actions create the environment we receive and are part of. In a person’s journey of morality and understanding, the simplistic self and not-self model of man and environment always evolves to a higher non-dualistic model.

After setting out with a simple agenda of imparting BPO and Medical Transcription training with the motto of "learning to get better," Doctus put its feet on the soil of Kavur, Andhra Pradesh, in 2007 and set up a 100-seater ITES/BPO unit in compliance with international norms in a location that had questionable-to-absent power and internet, a good 40 km from the nearest railhead, and with almost no supporting infrastructure to run a business out of. Two very challenging but successful years down the line, this humble beginning has to a great extent changed the life of the ordinary Tenali-Bapatla graduate to where he no longer needs to truck his bedding to the city to make the livelihood he aspires for. Doctus has taken the city ITES/BPO job and translocated it to the village (tier V), revolutionizing the entire village economy, in what we humbly call the hinterland of Kavur.

Ramakrishna Tummala, whose brainchild the Kavur Rural BPO project was, considers this a step towards building the environment. From a haunted village where empty houses gathered dust over furniture belonging to deceased elders of grown men in cities with 5 digit zip codes, Kavur today bustles with young men and women who are sometimes shunning the glamor of a city job (in the AP marriage market, you are nobody if you are an insurance claims adjudicator for the worlds largest but working over satellite lines from Kavur). An entire league of new economy ancillaries has sprung up. From 1 rupee shampoo sachets replacing 50 paisa ones (we are sorry, you no longer get them here in Kavur, you could try Vijaywada though) to typing institutes and computer training centers rattling with the sound of keyboards and change in the till, villages and towns around Kavur are creating a new and different environment.

At the end of the day, as our lives change and shine, as the tarnished bronze of our inner self is polished, the environment not only looks and gets better, it starts insisting on getting better and better. "Take this model," says Ramakrishna, "and apply it to any aspect of life, corporate governance, or any form of creation of value, or take it to the next village, and it will always result in the right course of action. One can learn from the organic life-force of nature and coexist and cooperate, or we can carry on doing what we have done so well for so long and destroy mankind. The choice,” emphasizes Ramakrishna, “lies with the individual.”

There are downsides, of course. Rentals are expected to turn four figure any time in the next few years. Women no longer depend on their father, brother, husband, son for their needs. In many an instance, the daughters of Kavur earn more than the rest of the family put together. Pollution and ecofriendly are becoming Telugu words in Tenali and Ponnur as vendors start putting out baskets to throw plastic and other waste into. A haircut costs more, and the barber's son is sending his son to learn computers and typing so that he can get a job in the village BPO. Neighboring village elders want a Kavur to happen closer to home. Yes, there are downsides.

We live in times where the words "environment" and "meltdown" have taken on a frightening synonymy. We, as a planet, clamor for the two degrees of our rightful coolness in the face of indifference and arrogance at the highest levels and of the highest order. We owe it to all the lives and efforts that have gone into creating this present, to our selves, and to our future to take steps to green minds, to green lives, to create leaders for tomorrow who will not blindly follow the destructive legacies that litter our history books, and to let our children know what a sparrow really looks like.


  1. Great initiative and excellently written

  2. Oh.. So nice to read this simple story, but profound.Hope many more young men will come forward to make this happen in their areas1 What a way to go Kavur.

    Thanks for sharing it with readers.I have linked it to my blog.(Ok?)

  3. Wow...I was in Vetrimagal's blogsite when I clicked on this link to here--I am subscribed to your Jejune diet...but not this! What a complete co-incidence that where I work we hope to set up a rural BPO for the youth...can you email me so I can get more info on this project? And is it okay for me to put up your blogpost on

  4. It's really good to know we are having such initiatives in India. Just hope, with all the awareness and information available at present, when we start such initiatives in villages, we don't turn them into dirty and polluted potholes like most towns are today. If the development of villages can be done while still retaining the serene and pristine tranquility, India will be on the way to again regaining the title of Golden Bird.

  5. Definitely a good initiative... the govt should on its part provide more tax incentives to such ventures and ensure power supply so that the bpo in rural area can function normally.



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