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Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Last Thursday, India witnessed two starkly contrasting leadership styles: When three IPL players were arrested for alleged spot-fixing, Rahul Dravid stepped forward to say that as captain he would not countenance deviant behaviour. "I have to focus on ensuring that the team fulfils its enormous potential and continues to play in the Rajasthan Royals way," Dravid said at a press conference. On the same evening, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh convened a meeting to fill a vacant seat in the National Human Rights Commission. Opposition leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, on the panel of selectors, vetoed the government's nominee, Cyriac Joseph, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, on the grounds of a mediocre career record. The government overruled the objections and circulated the minutes of the meeting among participants. Swaraj, before putting her dissent note, noticed that the minutes did not contain the name of Cyriac Joseph. "Prime Minister, you have signed on a blank paper," Swaraj told Singh, according to a person privy to the details. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde quickly took the paper back from Swaraj, put Joseph's name and then passed it on to the prime minister. If Dravid's public appearance sent out a clear signal that he would not allow crooks to flourish under him, Singh's handling of the NHRC issue showed that he was willing to be led by his colleagues. Singh, who enters his tenth year in office on Wednesday, has emerged as a practitioner of 'Leading from behind', a concept popularised by Nelson Mandela nearly two decades ago and emulated by Barack Obama in recent years. If Mandela wanted a leader to be "a shepherd, letting the most nimble go out ahead not realising that they are being directed from behind", Obama has been using it to give his foreign policy greater flexibility in foreign locales. But Singh has made it the defining feature of his prime ministership in an apparent bid to avert the possibility of the buck reaching anywhere near his desk. The ship ran into choppy waters in the early part of the second term, with the CAG detecting a scandal in the allocation of air waves that led to the incarceration of a minister and spelt serious setback to one of India's biggest success stories in recent years, the telecom sector. Another CAG report found similar lack of transparency in the coal field allocations. Troubles compounded for the government after CBI, investigating cases of corruption in the allocations, admitted that the government tried to "change the heart of the status report on the probe". This forced Singh's nominee Ashwani Kumar out of the government. The court's hearing in the case may bring yet more troubles as the CBI chief has told the court that the Prime Minister's Office, too, had vetted the status report. The impression that not all of Singh's Cabinet colleagues were above board was reinforced when CBI unravelled the cash-for-jobs scandal in the railway ministry. Although the PM reluctantly showed the door to Pawan Kumar Bansal, CBI is undertaking an investigation to find out whether the then minister, too, was on the take. The government's flat-footed handling of such crises has revived a comatosed Opposition and led to stalling of Parliament, where hardly any business could be transacted during the second half of the budget session. As a result, Congress plans to get Parliament's nod for its vote catcher schemes — food guarantee and hefty compensation for land acquisitions — are in jeopardy. Finance Minister P Chidambaram's initiatives for financial sector reforms will also have to wait. The track record on foreign policy has been equally dismal, with beheading of Indian soldiers by their Pakistani counterparts and renewed aggression by China taking a toll on the national morale. "In the nine years that Singh has been prime minister, China's policy toward India has gone from being quietly negative to being openly adversarial," said strategic expert Brahma Chellaney, "It has been in this period that China reversed its claim to Arunachal Pradesh and shortened the length of the border with India to dispute Indian sovereignty over western and eastern sectors." Amid the series of debacles on multiple fronts, the timing has never seemed quite right to elevate the seemingly reluctant Congress scion Rahul Gandhi to prime ministership. But lately, scepticism has grown within the party over the Congress president holding political power and Singh handling the government. So much so that the party had to issue a clarification that Gandhi and Singh were on the same page over the recent sacking of the two ministers. As he begins his last year in office, Singh appears to have squandered much of the goodwill that he commanded when he began his second term.
Posted by Akbar Jiwani at 7:50 PM
Oops! He Did IT Again iGate CEO Phaneesh Murthy has been sacked by its board for not reporting a sexual relationship with 31-year-old investor relations manager Araceli Roiz. Back in 2002, he was unceremoniously shown the door at Infosys on charges of sexual harassment. In a concall with journalists, he claimed it's a case of extortion and when asked why Roiz hurled charges at him, he said: "When you figure out women, let me know and I will take the lesson from you."
OUR BUREAU BANGALORE
One of the technology industry's bestknown personalities was hoist by his own petard after yet another sexual indiscretion cost him the job of president and chief executive officer of iGate.
Phaneesh Murthy, 49, who transformed a loss-making firm into a billion-dollar company, was sacked on Monday for not reporting a sexual relationship with an employee to the board of directors. The ignominy is a close rerun of a 2002 incident when he was booted out of Infosys, a company where he helped revenues grow 350-fold within eight years. Murthy's abrupt departure means his career has almost been dealt a mortal blow. For iGate, on which he has left his singular imprint, finding a chief executive officer capable of achieving the lofty ambitions being chased by Murthy will be a tall order. "I think this will have a negative impact on the company's growth. The CEO was the face of the company and involved in marketing its services and selling its vision to prospective clients, " said Vincent Colicchio, analyst with US-based brokerage Noble Capital.
Phaneesh Calls it a Case of Extortion
"We expect this to be a setback to the company's brand and stature in the near term," said Colicchio. Shares of iGate, which is based in Fremont, California, and listed on Nasdaq, were down 9% to $15 in opening trade. Murthy admitted to an affair with investor relations manager Araceli Roiz, but insisted that the charges of sexual harassment were a "case of extortion". He denied similar accusations when they were made by Reka Maximovitch, his assistant when he was global head of sales at Infosys. Eventually, the company settled the case by paying $3 million. Murthy forked out a further $800,000 in 2004 to settle another claim by a separate employee of Infosys.
"I feel very sad. Phaneesh is such an extraordinary individual, sociable and a true alpha male," said TV Mohandas Pai, a former director of human resources and finance at Infosys. iGate said in a statement that the independent investigation ordered by iGate's board did not find merit in the harassment charges levelled against Murthy. It also said the company has appointed Gerhard Watzinger as interim president and CEO. A search committee will find a new CEO for the company, which is aiming for sales of $3 billion by 2017. "We recognise the significant contributions Murthy has provided over the past 10 years in helping to establish iGate as a leader in the IT industry. However, as a result of this violation of iGate policy, we asked Murthy to step down," the statement quoted co-founder and co-chairman Sunil Wadhwani as saying.
Attempting to allay concerns about the impact of the loss of its high-profile CEO, iGate's new head Watzinger said the company has "great resources and a deep bench of talent". "We have a clear strategy that has put us in this strong position to maintain our successes into the future. Continuing to execute this strategy is our top priority." Murthy, who steered the acquisition of larger peer Patni Computer, was in the middle of implementing an 'outcome-based' model that challenged the traditional pricing system in the technology services industry. He also piloted an aggressive marketing campaign that took potshots at Indian outsourcers' mainstay time and materials billing model as the "No.1 enemy of mega corporations".
iGate said the decision to
Murthy was made after he failed to report his relationship to his superiors, a violation of the company policy and terms of his employment agreement. Murthy, however, said he had informed the company's chairman about his personal relationship after it ended "a few weeks ago". He claimed he was not given an opportunity to explain his side of the story to the board. "A right decision has been taken. I think the decision reflects what the IT industry stands for. It stands for the highest standards of governance and integrity. It is a very isolated incident and has no bearing in terms of what implications it has on the Indian IT industry," said Nasscom Chairman Krishnakumar Natarajan. Murthy said his immediate future will be decided by whether Roiz decides to take the case to court, in which case he could be faced with a costly legal battle. "I have made my mistakes and there are some who have benefited," he said.
Posted by Akbar Jiwani at 7:49 PM
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