The poll report from central and eastern UP was quite comprehensive (Currents Beneath PM’s Kashi, Mar 6). But then, I suspect there is a smirk on Modi’s face when he reads such reports. The EVMs all seem to be compromised and Modi will win all elections henceforth.
Nasar Ahmed, Karikkudi
This is about Outlook’s cover story about the new Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka (Obverse of the Coin, Feb 27). Former Infosys CEO V. Balakrishnan’s observations (‘Come clean on all allegations’) about the response of the Infosys board to the concerns raised by its founder N.R. Narayana Murthy means that the board is at the receiving end. The general policy drift at the IT giant is worrisome not only to the promoters and founders but also to its investors. Balakrishnan is not wrong in suggesting that the firm should put the probe report on complaints regarding governance in the public domain and provide it to shareholders. If there are mistakes, the board must admit it.
M.C.J., On E-Mail
I am not a management expert. But, after seeing what’s happened in Tata Sons and now Infosys—where promoters have questioned a professionally appointed chairman, and called into question the wisdom of decisions by the management and board—I won’t be surprised if such trends aren’t confined to only a few companies. In fact, this might be the norm in all promoter-started firms. I know that there are several stakeholders in firms—shareholders, suppliers of raw material, employees, consumers, working capital suppliers, the state governments, etc. But it is shocking that lavish severance packages are given to CEOs, while all other workers are mostly advised to work hard. Will any expert be kind enough to enlighten readers on the rationale of the above practices?
G.L. Karkal, Pune
This is about the edit (Kshatriya CEO?, Feb 27) on casteism in modern India. Truly, in spite of political parties trying desperately to woo voters on the basis of caste, it is becoming more futile by the year. Brahmins today marry non-Brahmins, Kshatriyas marry Vaishyas...a gentle revolution is taking place all over the country. And India’s mixed workplaces are at the centre of all mixed marriages. But what would be the caste of the children born of such mixed unions? A cashless society might by a pipe dream, but a casteless society may be knocking at our doors!
G. Neelakantan, Bangalore
This refers to the story on fighting poverty, Garibi Hatao, Now Out Of Silos (Feb 27). Apparently, Indira Gandhi’s slogan ‘garibi hatao’ has made a comeback. But three-and-a-half decades ought to have been a long enough time in which to make a larger dent in poverty than we have. Gender inequality, limited access to credit, lack of quality healthcare and education have posed a massive challenge for rural women. Women are strong contributors to the economy. If anything has to be done at all, they have to be empowered in order to end hunger and poverty.
Vinod C. Dixit, Ahmedabad
I write apropos the story about tackling and doing business with China while taking into account its close ties with Pakistan (Xi Stoops To Conquer, Feb 27). Every move by India, and concerted attempts by many in the UN security council, to bring Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar to account, is being thwarted by China, which wields the veto power. China has also been blocking attempts by India to get a permanent seat in the UNSC. This despite the fact that China got a seat due to Nehru’s benevolence in the first place. All this has confirmed that China is officially Asia’s bully state.
P.K. Hanspaul, Batala
This refers to Sordid Twist in the Script (March 6). It is a national shame that the Kerala cine-world is replete with beasts, sharks and leeches who prey on female artistes. There have been attempts to abduct and molest the artistes, many of which go unreported. But the same is the case outside Kerala too and what happened in Kochi only reflected that larger reality. Women who join the field do so to make money and become famous, not to sign away their right to live as they want to and decide what is good for them.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
After the recent storm in the Tata Group over the sacking of chairman Cyrus Mistry, comes the news of a similar situation in Infosys (Obverse Of The Coin, Feb 27). It is quite a coincidence that two of India’s leading corporate enterprises have faced the same kind of troubles—the founders/owners of both Tata and Infosys, Ratan Tata and N.R. Narayana Murthy, stepped down from leadership positions to make room for new managers. In doing so, both the leaders also broke the norm of dynastic control. Unfortunately, as is clear now, the attempts backfired. Infosys was once a pioneer in IT in the country. It had an exemplary record under the tenure of Narayana Murthy. Even Nanadan Nilekani, the next CEO in line, had done a fine job. But, somewhere, the spark went off during the reign of the other CEOs thereafter. A change of guard is inevitable and it is bound to affect the style of functioning, but an enterprise cannot afford a drop in its revenue. Such establishments have time-tested policies—certain norms and regulations that cannot be sacrificed for the sake of experimentation. Though not lacking in qualification, Infy managing director Vishal Sikka has not been able to live up to the task he was given.
Your cover story on the troubles at Infosys has brought to the fore the challenges being faced by India’s information technology sector today. These are times of rapid change and fluctuation—the global indices keep jumping and skipping and due to the general air of uncertainty in the global market, the structure of professional sectors has become very complex. The CEO alone cannot be wholly blamed for what happens to a corporation. Vishal Sikka is one of the highest paid managers in the country. Thus, naturally, there is more pressure on him for the negative performance of the organisation. I often wonder why CEOs are given such massive remuneration packages? The employees should also be paid well in order to ensure the success of a firm. Furthermore, the change of political leadership in the US, which is hugely important to India’s IT industry, does contribute to the worsening of the situation.
Ramachandran Nair, Oman
The chest-thumping by Infosysis managing director of being a Kshatriya does not behove a person of his credentials (your Comment, Kshatriya CEO, Feb 27). But then, is it really that much of a surprise? As a country, we have never let go of our medieval notions of casteism, never mind the record launch of 104 space rockets in one go. Till date, the ISRO station conducts havans by Brahmins before starting a big project. In that light, the American-bred Sikka was only trying to live up to the medieval ‘benchmarks’ set by so many techies before him.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
Just as was the case with Tata Group, I am sure that the turbulence at Infosys, once India’s leading IT firm, will fizzle out. MD Vishal Sikka may be under a lot of pressure at the moment, but by following the example of the more experienced—founder N.R. Narayana Murthy in this case—he can still try turning the situation around. If he fails to do so, we may see another sacking similar to the sacking of Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry.
Kamal Anil Kapadia, Bombay
Thank you for trying to make it easier for me, an 84-year-old senior citizen, to read your magazine. I read all of it only because the content is well presented, valuable and informative. Regretfully, I do not find any major improvement in the readability and would hope that the font is clearer and of a darker hue. Additionally, the magazine should be careful in carrying the correct page numbers in the index. For instance, in the February 27 issue, the story listed on page 20 was actually printed on page 22.
Brig V.H.M. Prasad, Secunderabad
(We have increased our font size and the spacing between words for the convenience of the readers.)
Now that even CEOs show caste pride, is it time for reservation in the corporate sector?
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
V.K. Sasikala’s conviction in a case of disproportionate assets must send out a strong warning to corrupt and ambitious people masquerading as public figures (Who Wants A Bound Script, Feb 27). The crafty and calculating aide of late chief minister J. Jayalalitha, now serving her jail term in Bangalore, says she will continue to “work for my party”. Will she, can she do so from the prison? Not only should she be checked from such an attempt, Sasikala must also be disallowed transfer to any prison in her native Tamil Nadu.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
A jailed Sasikala’s proxy winning a trust vote in the Tamil Nadu assembly amid high drama is a mockery of the mandate of the people of that state. Palanisami assuming power in Chennai amounts to rule by proxy, given that he is Sasikala’s nominee. The state’s governor’s role, too, is not above suspicion. Apparently, he acted at the behest of the BJP, as the party ruling the Centre is now eyeing the AIADMK’s support in the upcoming presidential election. The bright side is the metamorphosis of O. Panneerselvam: the stopgap CM, though briefly, became a lion (on sensing popular sentiments) by giving a fight to Sasikala—a far cry from what he was vis-à-vis his relation with Jayalalitha. Maybe he will bounce back in the next assembly polls.
L.J. Singh, Amritsar
Thanks to the Outlook team for publishing the story on S.S. Cahuhan and corruption in the armed forces. As an ex-serviceman, formerly with the Indian Navy, I am aware that even our armed forces aren’t devoid of such ugly truths. As it has been proved time and again, serious cases of corruption are reported from the army. And then there are those cases which, hidden under the guise of security and discipline, never come out in public. The mainstream media usually doesn’t touch such stories even with a barge pole.
Manoj Senapati, On E-Mail
India’s five-year plans have over the years been implemented with the aim of eradicating poverty from the country (Garibi Hatao, Now Out To The Silos, Feb 27). But if reports received from half-a-dozen action research centres managed by a voluntary agency in UP are anything to go by, the rural poor never benefited from FYP schemes. Many of them remained on paper. Even today, the country has lots of people living in mud-houses, getting inadequate water and power while being at the risk of contagious diseases. Successive governments virtually institutionalised poverty—for political benefits. India still remains a country of the hapless, who are deprived of basic necessities of life.
M.K. Somanatha Panicker, Cherthala (Kerala)
In practical terms, expecting Garibi Hatao is like the target of zero corruption—impossible to achieve. Every government has failed to accomplish the ambitious objective. Worse, it’s black humour that the present government has made the poor poorer by depriving them of their hard-earned money, following the November 8 demonetisation. Only the government claims it would be a success in the long term.
Mahesh Kumar, New DelhiBlack money, no doubt, should be dealt with strictly, but it isn’t wise of the income tax department to treat all citizens as tax evaders and black-money hoarders. Not all huge cash earnings need be slush funds. Indians at times keep huge cash in hand (after paying tax) for obvious reasons. The I-T department must accept this fact. They may issue notices or seek clarification, but terrorising citizens should be stopped immediately.
M. Kumar, New Delhi
In my opinion, the crisis in Manipur may be an indication of how intelligence agencies from neighbouring nations, the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan in particular, are influencing the migrant situation in the Northeast (A Riddle Of Hill And Valley, Feb 27). The problems around the influx of people from Bangladesh is nowhere close to being resolved. Although the increase in the number of immigrants to the Northeast may not have a negative impact on the demographic and cultural profile of the region, a large group of unknown and unaccounted for individuals will make it easy for infiltrators or agents of covert ops to hide. Such infiltrators will also support drug-peddling and illegal trade of arms in the state—an acknowledged fact.
Rajiv Boolchand Jain, New Delhi
This refers to Currents Beneath PM’s Kashi (March 6). Electioneering in Uttar Pradesh has brought out the amazing ability of our political leaders to play with words, coin derivatives and form verbal combinations to assail their political opponents. No doubt, the word play has some comic impact despite its poor quality. The torrent of rhetoric has substituted the explaining of policies. The voters are none the worse for it as they have a fair idea of what the parties in the fray represent and what they are likely to do if voted to power. Trading word blows is all very well, but it should not be bereft of an astute sense of humour. Unfortunately, in this case, the voters have been subjected to the scatological variety of it. Humourless barbs vitiate the atmosphere. What a leader says is reflective of his personality. Sadly, the prime minister himself started it all with his tortuous coinage, ‘SCAM’ for Samajwadi, Congress, Akhilesh and Mayawati. With his “Behenji sampatti” innovation, he succeeded in provoking Mayawati to equate Narendra Damodardas Modi with Negative Dalit Man. His “graveyards and crematoriums” remark made Akhilesh Yadav urge Big B not to advertise “the donkeys of Gujarat”. BJP president Amit Shah crowned it all with his contribution, ‘KASAB’, with ‘Ka’ for Congress, ‘Sa’ for Samajwadi Party and ‘B’ for BSP, thereby bracketing Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh and Mayawati with Kasab. Modi and Shah have largely succeeded in disguising their party’s upper-caste bias with clever, ‘nationalistic’ rhetoric. However, it cannot be said for sure how far the nature of election campaigning sways the floating or undecided voters.
G. David Milton, Kanyakumari
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