Chennai, February21, 2023:

IIT Madras Research Park, a sprawling, 11.5 acre, 1.2 million sq ft complex that offers plug-and-play facilities for corporate R&D work, and earns ₹50-60 crore annually, is a veritable success story, but for its President, Prof Ashok Jhunjhunwala, the success is not good enough.

The lack of enough rural jobs has been bothering us, says the professor. This lack of local employment causes migration with not-so-good consequences for both the migrants and the cities.

With a view to addressing this problem, IIT Madras Research Park has set up a Rural Technology Business Incubator (RTBI), as part of its ‘10x initiative’ — a grand vision for the years up to 2030.

Walking the talk, the RTBI has set up a company, Rubiz IT Services, which will operate a ‘rural data annotation centre’ in the Rediarpatti village, Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu.

Data annotation is categorisation and labelling of data for artificial intelligence applications. It involves tagging content such as text, photos, and videos so that machine learning models can recognise them and use them to generate predictions. This is a job that high school-educated rural folk can do.

Chennai-based HTC Global Services, which has operations in the US, set up by an IIT Madras alumnus, has come forward to provide work for Rubiz IT Services.

“With the support of HTC Global, the rural data annotation centres will allow a section of the local population to find work in a high-tech industry that would otherwise be inaccessible to skilled rural workers, hence tackling urban challenges like attrition,” says a press release from IIT Madras Research Park.

NASSCOM partnership

Going forward, NASSCOM will also be a major partner for this initiative providing clients among their membership to the Rural Data Annotation Centres and thereby ensuring continuity and profitability.

A Rural Data Annotation Centre offers a fantastic opportunity to bridge the critical gap between urban and rural areas of the country by producing new jobs and influencing the rural landscape.

The first such centre will be a 30-seater facility focused on providing employment opportunities to high school graduates and will commence operations by March 2023, the release says.

While this centre will initially cater to Rediarpatti and some of its surrounding villages, the long-term objective of the stakeholders is to set up similar centres around Tirunelveli and across Tamil Nadu.

Prof Jhunjhunwala told  businessline that the time is ripe for creating rural jobs because, unlike earlier, today there is a good power supply, communication, and better-educated workforce.

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