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Monday, September 27, 2021

Panchjanya attack on Infosys: A first for India Inc; Govt and trade bodies silent, Opp says ‘disparaging’

One of the few voices that came out in the software major’s support was that of T V Mohandas Pai, former Infosys Chief Financial Officer.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: September 5, 2021 5:08:53 pm
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RSS-affiliated journal Panchajanya’s attack on Infosys suggesting it was working at the behest of “anti-national forces,” was met with silence from the BJP, the Central Government, and leading industry bodies.

One of the few voices that came out in the software major’s support was that of T V Mohandas Pai, former Infosys Chief Financial Officer. Defending the firm’s work on the GST backend infrastructure as well as on the new Income Tax Portal, Pai said the writer seemed unaware of “how large projects are done.

“Before a project like this is released,” Pai told The Sunday Express, “there is something called a user acceptance test — the product is handed over to the client. Only after they do rigorous testing, is it released to the public. It is obvious that the department (Income Tax) owes responsibility for not doing adequate testing.”

Industry bodies CII, FICCI and NASSCOM did not respond to mails while a senior official with an Indian conglomerate downplayed the attack saying a “one-off” statement “should not be taken too seriously.”

Emails sent to Infosys and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology seeking comments did not elicit any response.

Naushad Forbes, co-chairman, Forbes Marshall, said that the RSS is a private body and “if it wishes to express its opinion (via the piece), they have the right to do so and are free to do so. That’s what freedom of speech is all about.”

A senior BJP leader said that the article and its “tone” were “unfortunate.” A company like Infosys, he said, “would not deliberately mess up such an important project.”

“Infosys is a reputed firm in India and is well-respected globally. The CEO and other officials are saying they are on the job and we believe them. But they should deliver as time is running out,” said BJP spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agrawal said. He did not react to the Panchajanya article.

The Indian Express contacted two Cabinet ministers and three Ministers of State, Four of them declined to comment. Said one of them: “Infosys could do a much better job. It’s a firm that provides excellent services to foreign firms and I do not understand why it could not deliver the same.”

The Opposition was critical of the attack. “Such disparaging remarks do not reflect well on the government,” said former Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily. “When such attacks come from the RSS, it is as good as (from) the Government of India…These people talk about Make in India and vocal for local, this goes against their own principles they propagate.”

Said senior NCP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Majeed Memon: “Infosys is internationally acknowledged, if there are any lapses in any deal vis a vis the Government, it should not be attributed as wilful to bring disrepute to the Narendra Modi government as suggested by the RSS.”

Infosys, currently the fourth largest company by market capitalisation — Rs 721,244 crore as on September 3 — was founded in 1981 by seven partners, including NR Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani. The company has a presence in over 50 countries and has over 2.64 lakh employees.

In the year ended March 2021, it earned a net profit of Rs 18,048 crore on a revenue of Rs 85,912 crore. While Infosys got listed in India in June 1993, it became the first Indian company to be listed on the NASDAQ in the US in March 1999.

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