Thursday, September 29, 2011

Transformation call rings in Village Sonari

Transforming India One Village at a Time

Sonari, 60 km from Lucknow, was like any other Indian village. And so were its youth. With practically no employment avenues available locally, boys and girls, despite having basic education, would chase their job dream by filling countless number of forms with little success and while away their time in narrow bylanes of the village. Things, however, changed four months ago when Lead India winner RK Misra, who hails from the village, started efforts to set up UP's first rural call centre.

Misra, ex-IITian , has launched the project with the cooperation of a Bangalore-based private firm, Rural Shores.

A group of 33 boys and girls, most of them intermediate pass outs, are getting computer training . By next month, they would begin getting procedural training for a project involving data entry for a political organization. These younsters will be trained & employed at Sonari by a company which has set up 10 such BPOs in the villages of Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan , Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

Nitin Sharma, company's regional marketing manager, said: "The villagges youths have surprised us. They have immense potential .'' He said the youths will undergo a six week training before being recruited . During thee training, they will be given aa stipend off Rs 2,500.

The project has motivated these young - sters and brought a smile on their faces. Eighteen-year-old Mukesh Kumar paddles all the way from his village Haripalpur to reach Sonari every morning for computer class. "I had seen the computer only in shops in Lucknow but never touched them,'' Mukesh said, his eyes glued to the monitor and fingers swiftly tabbing on the keyboard. Twenty-year-old Mamta Gupta, who is pursuing graduation, feels the call centre will bring a positivee transformation in her life. "I'll can live here with my parents and also do the job,'' saaid Mamta, a resident of village Sita-Ki-Rasoi , sit uated about 5km m from Sonari.

"One needs to und erstand that even small earning holds significance for villagers" said RK Misra. "Even low but a consistent salary can change the life of rural youth here, that's what we mean by rural empowerment'' he said. But the star was not easy. The bbiggest constraint was availability of power. Sonari rarely received power for more than three to five hours everyday. At times, Sonari would be without electricity for a week or even a month. So, how would computers function under such situation.

The solution came from Gram OOrja, a Pune-based company. Gram OOrja installed solar panels on the roof-top of a two-storyed building. The panels charge 120 batteries, each of 6 volts, connected to the main UPS. But this only provides an 11-hour power backup.

Rural Shores has also installed a radio wave tower for the internet facility, which has a speed of two megabytes per second. However, company officials said the speed may not be enough for a larger workforce at the BPO. The only option then is to get the connectivity through an optical fibre.

Earlier, Misra had successfully experimented with a community dairy project on this one acre land. Villagers were given membership of the dairy where they could sell their milk produce. The dairy and the building, where the BPO is set up, will functions from the same large premises.

Next on the agenda is agriculture. "Villagers need to be convinced that conventional farming does not bring huge returns. They need to grow cash crops like banana, potato, peppermint and medicinal plants like Satawar and Artemisia,'' Misra said.