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Infosys founder Narayana Murthy leaves NDTV
By Techgirl

Was it something we said?  On August 17, 2009, Techgoss has linked to an article in the Hoot which highlighted the fact that NDTV had broadcast many pro Narayana Murthy stories where there was talk of him becoming the President of India. Then on Sept 14, we published an article which detailed how NDTV had done a soft interview with Nandan Nilekani.

In that NDTV interview only ‘friends’ and ‘close friends’ asked the ‘hard’ questions to Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani who now runs the Government’s UID Project.

There are a couple of things which are beyond dispute.   Infosys founder Narayana Murthy is one of the greatest managers of the tech world.  His exceptional skills are well matched by his honesty and humility.  Everyone likes him.

So, many were confused when Narayana Murthy accepted a position as Non-executive independent Director on the Board of NDTV.  It is never a good idea for any tech tycoon to be on the Board of any one media organization. Competing media will start seeing your IT business through a different perspective.  And the media business is a hard game perhaps not suited for genteel souls like Mr. Murthy.

Now Mr. Murthy has stepped down from the NDTV Board citing ‘increasing work and time pressure’ from Infosys and other commitments. In a face saving move for everyone, Mr. Murthy has promised to act as a ‘mentor’ for NDTV. NDTV thanked Mr. Murthy for his valuable contribution to the TV Station.

Then again, Mr. Murthy may have decided to cut down on his hectic workload.


(Techgoss had published the following article on Sept 14, 2009)

NDTV shares love with Nandan Nilekani
By Techgirl

NDTV is one of the most respected TV channels credited with a number of hard hitting exposes.  Infosys co-founder and iconic tech guru Narayana Murthy is on the Board of NDTV.  Another Infosys co-founder and successful author, Nandan Nilekani, currently heads the Government’s UID Project. So what happens when NDTV interviews Nandan? You get a feel good interview.

Nandan Nilekani has hit the ground running to sell his UID Project to the Indian public. The UID Project which will give every Indian a unique number is a good idea and will in the long term ease the life of most Indian. But there are concerns about privacy and misuse by some politicians. On the weekend, Nandan gave interviews to a number of media including PTI, CNN/IBN and NDTV. 

NDTV’s show ‘Your Call’ describes itself as “giving you a chance to speak directly to India’s big newsmakers. Join host Sonia Singh and her guests from across the gamut of business, entertainment and politics for a mix of interviews and topical discussions.”

I quite like ‘Your Call’ and make it a point to watch every interview.  The host Sonia Singh is intelligent and has a gentle but firm way of coaxing her interview subjects to speak to the NDTV audience. Your Call is quite democratic in that people can email or video their questions. 

So, what happened when NDTV’s ‘Your Call’ interviewed Nandan Nilekani on Sunday, Sept 13? Not a single question from privacy advocates, the Open Source movement, rival tech company or critics.   Every person was a ‘friend’ or ‘close friend’ like Lord Desai or D Raja of the CPI. Nandan’s school Bishop Cotton and college IIT were given ‘opportunities’ to question him. The school and college kids were suitably awed of the great man.

If that was not soft enough, Nandan Nilekani’s comrade in arms and Infosys Board member and HR boss Mohandas Pai (whom many in Infosys label as ‘Quick Sack Murgan’) lobbed in a video tapped lollipop at Nandan.  Mohandas put the question to Nandan: “You articulated the idea of a Flat world. What is the next big idea of global impact?’  Nandan, without blinking an eyelid or breaking into a knowing smile, said: “UID”. Naturally, Mohandas would not have told Nandan that he was going to ask such a hard hitting question in a ‘live’ interview.

You probably want to see the interview yourself.  This is the link to the NDTV website. See the interview and feel the love. And no wry smiles please.

Techgoss note:  Techgirl is a senior Tech journalist who reports on the IT, KPO and KPO Sectors for a leading media house.  In her spare time, she dabbles in satire in her blog http://techgirltalk.blogspot.com

(Techgoss had run the following story on August 17, 2009)

Did NDTV lobby for Infosys founder?
By Manoj Kumar

Narayana Murthy co-founded Infosys and has led it to great success and universal admiration. Most Indians like Mr. Murthy for his humility, integrity and impeccable moral values. There was a time when he was even being touted as a Presidential candidate. Most would agree that, like Abdul Kalam, Narayana Murthy would be an inspiring role model as the President.

But as everyone knows the best man may not necessarily get the job in politics.  The ruling Congress refused to give President Kalam a second term.  The Communists found flaws with every candidate till Sonia Gandhi had the brain wave to nominate a woman. 

The Indian media landscape can be as complicated as our political process.

There is one independent voice in Indian media, hoot.org, which only reports on the newspapers, TV Stations and other news media.  The hoot.org is truly independent with no equation with any media house or business.

If you read the hoot, you will better understand the political machinations and wheeling dealing in our media. 

The hoot has published an article which details how respected Indian TV Station NDTV lobbied for Narayana Murthy who happens to be an Independent Director on its Board.  NDTV was launched in 1988 and is preferred viewing for tens of millions of Indians. 

The Hoot article published on Aug 10 about NDTV lobbying for Mr. Murthy reads in part

Transparency and the media

The same channel also was orchestrating the candidature of one of their Directors for the post of President of India some time back. The person may be iconic and of impeccable credentials, but the channel still needs to let the public know of his particular relationship with it. Incidentally, no other channel was plugging for him so hard.  One wonders how many viewers were aware of this when they were asked to vote on the campaign. While one is deeply appreciative of the commonsense of the person on the street in not falling for such campaigns, nevertheless the over all ethical issue remains. Think what would be said of Doordarshan if it ran an orchestrated campaign to promote one of the eminent directors on its board of governors! Such influence peddling would be unethical journalism by any standards.

While Mr. Murthy is too nice to ask anyone to lobby for him, this article is an interesting perspective on media and tech equations.

Did you know that NDTV has a business relationship with India’s No. 1 BPO Genpact as well? NDTV launched NGEN Media Services (outsourcing of media post-production services) as 50:50 joint venture with Genpact and Emerging Markets BV that has helped launch channels in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Middle East

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