The Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) has been mandated by the government to set up business process outsourcing (BPO) centres in the northeast, a development that may unlock the IT potential of the seven under-developed states.
Talking to FE, STPI director-general Omkar Rai said under the new initiative it was looking to set up around 5,000 seats for the seven states. Without divulging the names of the companies interested in setting up their BPO operations in the region, Rai said it would be the larger companies who would like to explore the talent in the region.
The BPO industry registered exports of $20 billion in FY14, recording annual growth of 11.4%. The domestic BPO market touched Rs 19,600 crore in FY14, posting growth of 11.8%, higher than that for IT services. The BPM industry employs more than a million and this number is expected to rise with growing focus on the domestic market.
“We will create RFPs. In partnership with private players we have to select the winners based on a competitive bidding. It will be based on the viability gap funding model,” he said.
Some states in the northeast have an English-speaking talent pool, a vital input for the BPO industry. The funding for these BPOs will be provided by the ministry.
“We have kept a Rs 50-crore budget for NE states. Subsidies can be given up to Rs 1 lakh per seat for both domestic and international operations,” Rai said.
Rai feels STPI, with over 53 centres under operations, has the necessary infrastructure and expertise for the plan. He felt that only senior-level leadership will have to move into this region to kickstart the process.
The government has been taking numerous initiatives to enhance the IT skills of this region. The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) under the central government has started a skill development initiative through the strengthening of the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT).
NIELIT is engaged in both formal and non-formal education of IT and electronics, besides development of industry-oriented quality education and training programmes. It is in the process of upgrading the existing centres in the northeast, which include Guwahti, Imphal, Shillong, Itanagar, Gangtok and Aizwal.