Page last updated at 13:07 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 14:07 UK

Outsourcing unit to be set up in Indian jail

By Omer Farooq
BBC News, Hyderabad

Charlapally Central Jail near Hyderabad (Photo: Snaps India)
Charlapally Central Jail has state-of-the-art facilities

Authorities in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh are planning to set up an outsourcing unit in a jail.

The unit will employ 200 educated convicts who will handle back office operations like data entry, and process and transmit information.

The project will begin at Charlapally Central Jail, near the state capital Hyderabad, in the next four months.

India is a hub for the outsourcing industry, but this is the first time a unit will be set up inside a jail.

The prison, with 2,100 inmates, is Andhra Pradesh's most modern with state-of-the-art facilities.

The proposed outsourcing unit is a public-private partnership between the department of jails and an IT (information technology) company, Radiant Info Systems.

'Ensuring future'

"The idea is to ensure a good future for the educated convicts after they come out of jail," CN Gopinath Reddy, director general of prisons in Andhra Pradesh, told the BBC.

"With their experience of working in the BPO [business process outsourcing] in jail, any company will absorb them in future."

Radiant Info Systems director C Narayana Charyulu said Charlapally jail was chosen for the project because nearly 40% of the inmates there were educated.

"We have identified the area in the jail where the unit will come up. It will have computers as well as connectivity," Mr Reddy said.

Mr Charyulu said 200 people would be recruited and trained for the job initially.

The unit, which is expected to undertake back-office work for banks, will work round the clock with three shifts of 70 staff each.

Working in the unit will also be financially rewarding for the prisoners.

"The convicts get a paltry 15 rupees [33 cents] per day for other work like making steel furniture or working on looms, but we intend to pay them 100 rupees [$2.2] to 150 rupees [$3.32] a day," Mr Charyulu said.

Officials say this is a pilot project and, if it succeeds, it could be extended to other jails in the state.

Of the total 13,000 convicts in Andhra Pradesh jails, about 2,000 are considered well-educated and could potentially be good workers for BPOs and even call centres in the future.

Mr Charyulu said a BPO in jail would benefit the inmates as well as help the IT company make some profits.

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