Infosys Chairman resigns IT Advisor role
By Bala Shah
Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy is credited with building a company which has set very high benchmarks for professionalism, financial transparency and excellent working conditions for its employees. Currently serving as the Infosys Technologies chairman and chief mentor, Mr. Murthy, has decided to resign from the post of IT Advisor to the Sri Lankan Government.
It all began when the Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, invited the Infosys boss to be the Chief Guest at the ceremonial launch of the ‘2009 – Year of English and Information Technology’ last week. Once Mr. Murthy was in Sri Lanka, he was requested to become the IT Advisor to the Sri Lankan Government.
Did Mr. Murthy accept not wanting to offend a gracious host? Or did he think it would be another soft role like his other assignments as advisor to South Korea and Japan?
But it was an accident waiting to happen. The Sri Lankan forces have been battling separatist Tamil movement LTTE for decades. The fighting has been vicious with tens of thousand of civilian dead and a number of VIPs like Indian ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassinated. Many Tamils in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu support some form of Tamil autonomy in Sri Lanka.
Even at the ceremonial function in Sri Lanka last week where Mr. Murthy was Chief Guest, politics was in the air. The Sri Lankan President, Rajapaksa said: “With the liberation of our people from the clutches of terrorism which destroyed our country for more than 25 years, year 2009 will also be our country's Year of Peace, our country's Year of Reconciliation, and our Year of true Independence”
When Mr. Murthy returned to India, a few people left hate filled comments in various media. Some of the comments were particularly vitriolic. A sample comment would be: “We respect Murthy as an ICON in Indian IT industry. He should not accept the post of adviser to Sri lanka, since for the last 1 year they are killing innocent Tamil people through systematic genocide". A number of Indian politicians also spoke to Mr. Murthy about not getting involved in any political situation.
The Infosys Chairman, Mr. Murthy, did not want to get burned in any controversy and has relinquished his post with the Sri Lankan Government. In his official letter (also given to Indian media), Mr. Murthy thanked the Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa for being a gracious host but said he had to withdraw from the role of IT Advisor due to ‘personal reasons’.