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Ramalinga Raju: Moving India's tech talent pool

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(CNN) -- For millions of people the focus on India as a technology and business processing hub has meant welcome employment -- but the growth in outsourcing in those industries has been mostly limited to big cities.

The majority of Indians, though, still live in villages.

Multimillionaire Ramalinga Raju -- who already has helped make India a global tech star through his business processing outsourcing (BPO) company Satyam Computer Service Ltd -- is hoping to spread some of the fortunes.

Working through his family's Byrraju Foundation, his plan is for companies to set up data processing centers in some of India's villages.

Borrowing the Sanskrit word for village -- "gram" -- the so-called "GramIT" centers will create opportunities that previously didn't exist.

While Raju can't put a figure on it, he says the economic advantage to companies that make the move to villages is "enormous."

"Now as the world IT and BPO industry has become more mature," Raju says. "As Indian industry has become more mature, we are beginning to find talent shortages. So then the question is 'can we use the same principles that we have used 15 years ago to address this problem?'."

There are currently three GramIT centers, and Raju hopes to have 10 more by the end of the year.

One of the first is in his hometown of Jallikakinada -- about 450 kilometers (279 miles) southeast of the tech center and his home city of Hyderabad.

According to Forbes Magazine, village life in Jallikakinada -- population 1,652 -- has changed only slowly despite the tech boom that enriched some Indian cities. It didn't begin receiving electricity until 1965, phones until 1991.

Forbes says Raju's father moved the family to Hyderabad in the 1960s to cultivate grapes and later started a string of construction businesses.

Raju earned a master's degree in business from Ohio University, then returned to India and co-founded Satyam (translated as 'truth' in Sanskrit) in 1987 with one of his two younger brothers.

He later began providing software services to U.S. companies. Forbes estimates his worth at $US670 million -- ranking him 36th among the richest people in India.

A pioneer in the early days of the BPO, Satyam employs around 40,000 people.

Forbes says Raju's father died in 2001, and his three sons started their foundation to honor his memory, intent on transforming rural villages such as Jallikakinada.

The Byrraju Foundation reportedly broadcasts English and math classes, via satellite links and radio towers, to more than 200 government-run schools.

"We believe that there is a good opportunity to make good use of people who are graduating from not so well known universities or colleges -- and even if they are not on the top of the list in a college -- a committed individual can contribute significantly," Raju told CNN.

One person grateful for the GramIT in their village is worker Sunitha Kumari.

"I am enjoying a comfortable job in the IT sector, without leaving my home village, my people, my environment," Kumari says.

Krishna Mohan had moved away to find work, but says when a GramIT center opened up back at home, he quickly returned.

"I can live with my family. The cost of living -- I can control that -- (opposed) to the cities," he says.

Krishna continues to spend his afternoons in the rice fields with his father.

"My friends always says, 'We are working only in agriculture field and you are working in both IT field and agriculture -- I am really proud of you they are saying. With those words, I am very happy," he says.

CNN's Seth Doane and journalist Bina Brown contributed to this report.


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