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Coming soon: prosperity in rural climes


Vandana Gombar  |  New Delhi 

was not trying to drop names when he brought up ITC's (of e-choupal fame), who was his first boss, or the white-revolution man (of Amul fame), who is his ideal, or Raju Narisetti, the head of the new business paper from Hindustan Times (earlier with Wall Street Journal), who was his batchmate. What he was trying to do was to highlight what does to people.
For the uninitiated, is the Gujarat-based Institute for Rural Management, which is chaired by Kurien (who, incidentally, is planning to step down), and whose alumni have been pushing the rural development agenda far more, and perhaps far more successfully, than the government.
"There is something that happens at You cannot get rural out of your system," says Gupta, who left a cushy corporate job to set up (of no relation to, a job portal for the hinterland in late 2001.
Finding people for NGOs like Oxfam or Population Services International ended up being the primary task of his portal, though there was some corporate demand too.
He also took on off-line initiatives to "polish" the rural youth for employment through finishing-school kind of programmes.
Now, with large corporate groups like Reliance and Bharti planning a heady cocktail of rural, urban and corporate networks, there is a whole new excitement among all those associated with rural India.
"We tell each other "" it is finally happening. Rural development is finally happening," says a beaming Gupta.
His largest client today is Reliance Industries, a company whose seriousness about its mammoth retail venture "" which would be fed by fresh food and dry foods (like spices and pulses) from the farms "" can be gauged from the fact that its managers are ready to meet prospective employees even at 10:30 pm.
"Agri-business is an integral part of retail. It is as hot today as IT was in the year 2000," he says.
The Multi-commodities exchange (MCX), set up for trading commodities futures, is the second largest client for
Others on its client list include HDFC Bank, Hindustan Lever, ITC, Monsanto, RPG Retail, Godrej Agrovet and Max New York Life.
Gupta's team is small.

His office in north Delhi is spartan. The money he makes is not a lot (he declines to detail). But he knows that would change soon as corporates get down to developing rural India as a mere by-product of their business ventures.

This "market-led growth" promises to be far more sturdy, and sustainable, than the dole-led attempts of the government. Meanwhile, you can get ready to see a "modern village" in the not too distant future.

First Published: Wed, June 07 2006. 00:00 IST