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Internet jobs bring options to rural India

| Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 6:48 p.m.

SIMAYAL, India — The farming village of Simayal was being drained of its bright young men as they left for cities to search for work.

Village women had little option but to wed right out of school. Nearly everyone's survival was tied to the whim of the rains and prayers for a strong harvest.

Now men are staying. Some who left have returned. Many women have put off marriage to work and are helping support their families as businesses open.

The 50 new jobs accompanying a 3-year-old business called B2R have brought a “glimmer of hope” to the 110 families in this cluster of farming hamlets — barely touched by India's economic transformation over the past two decades.

“There's a buzz around the place that didn't exist before,” said V.K. Madhavan, who has spent the past eight years running Chirag, a local development organization.

The B2R staff in Simayal work mostly in data processing above an old flour mill.

B2R and a handful of similar firms are offering an alternative road map for India's economic growth. With nearly 70 percent of the population — 833 million people — living in rural areas and its cities overburdened, there is a limit to how quickly the nation can be urbanized.

In the meantime, rural youth with an Internet connection are getting outsourced work from companies.

“You get work over the Internet, you work it over the Internet, you send it back over the Internet,” said Dhiraj Dolwani, CEO of B2R. “It's a window to the world.”

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