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Infosys’ Murthy lashes out at corporate greed

Greed and vanity of executives of large corporations, falling value systems in society and inadequate policy focus on population explosion has made Infosys Technologies founder chairman and chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy a worried man.
By Gaurav Choudhury | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 19, 2009 09:52 PM IST

Greed and vanity of executives of large corporations, falling value systems in society and inadequate policy focus on population explosion has made Infosys Technologies founder chairman and chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy a worried man.

For a man who contemplated entering politics in the 1970s, Narayana Murthy feels it is about time the country’s politicians were made more accountable through an appropriate institutional framework.

“If you want greater success in public governance, you have to enhance transparency and accountability. This is the reason why the idea of making political parties accountable for what they say in manifestoes become extremely important. But to do that we need to create the right institutional framework,” he told Hindustan Times.

Murthy’s latest book A Better India, A Better World (Penguin/Allen Lane) defines the broad contours of a new development paradigm for policy makers groping for options to bridge the differences between the wealthy and the impoverished.

The younger generation, he said, will have to be co-opted in the mainstream political matrix to hasten real progress in a
country that houses a significant proportion of the world’s poor. “I do believe that this country has the system of giving opportunities to younger people. The demography of this country is such that there are a large number of young people,” he said.

The popular strand of thought is that India is uniquely positioned to reap the benefits of demographic dividend by virtue of a very young population. There is a caveat though.

“Demographic dividend will not result unless we focus on population control. Unless we reduce our population growth, we would not be able to use our resources proficiently. And in that case there will not be any demographic dividend at all,” he said.

For a man who pioneered the global delivery model that has become the cornerstone of India’s success in information technology services outsourcing, the alleged financial irregularities in Satyam Computer Services came as a huge disappointment. “I was very disappointed. In fact, in some ways, I was disgusted. The software industry has done a pretty good job of raising the country’s image outside India and I kept on thinking what has this man (B Ramalinga Raju, Satyam’s founder chairman) done”, he said.

Importantly, the irregularities came to light despite constant oversight by regulators, auditors, an independent board and the media.

“At the end of the day, it is the value system that determines the core of an individual. The real character of the person can be known what he does when nobody is watching. I would hold the individual responsible. That, however, does not mean we should not have regulators,” he said.

Such incidents, he said, primarily occur because of a feudal culture of functioning.

“Feudal culture is one where there is one set of rules for the king and another set of rules for the rest of the people. In such a culture, the people think they do not have a right to question the king, even if they perceive something is going wrong and non-compliance of values by the king is somewhat celebrated by the people,” he said.

In the wake of the extraordinary economic meltdown, the spirit of capitalism is now sometimes equated with greed. Murthy said such extreme observations were unfair.

“What we are seeing is not the failure of entrepreneurship. It is the greed, ego and vanity of some super managers of some large corporations. That is not the essence of capitalism. Capitalism is all about creating an environment where
individuals can leverage their innovation and their entrepreneurial abilities to create better and better opportunities,” he said.

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FILE PHOTO: International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva makes remarks during a closing news conference for the International Monetary Finance Committee (IMFC), during the IMF and World Bank's 2019 Annual Meetings of finance ministers and bank governors, in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Theiler/File Photo(REUTERS)
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