13th February 2011
Mr Narayana Murthy, please do something or admit you are a stooge of Congress
I was browsing through N.Murthy’s book, A Better India A Better World (which I had bought one year ago but hadn't yet found time to read), and came across something that brought bad memories, and a strong sense of revulsion. Let me show, below, the disconnect between what Mr Murthy says (and others like him say) and what he practices.
His address at the IIT Delhi 32nd convention (2001) is linked here
. Just a few key extracts
first and then my comments. In the introduction to the book somewhere he riles against socialism, and pretends to promote freedom. Then this:
On The Indian of the 21st Century
When India started its tryst with destiny, there was an enthusiasm for nation-building that lasted till the early 1960s. As you know, this dissipated into frustration by the 1970s. I was a diehard socialist at that time – concerned about removing poverty. [Sanjeev Sabhlok's comment: even the capitalist is concerned about it. That's not the key issue re: socialism] Among other things, the travails of creating and running a business put paid to all illusions I had about the merits of centralized planning. Importing a computer required the head of a corporation to make 20 to 25 trips to Delhi. A clerk in RBI would take five days to decide whether the MD of a software firm could travel abroad for a day! In those days, the successful Indian was one who had good contacts with the omnipotent Babudom.
With the 1991 reforms, we secured a measure of freedom to make economic decisions within the corporation. Now, we could get down to the serious business of creating wealth and, consequently, creating a better society. The sense of enthusiasm was a marked contrast to the earlier years. In the decade gone by, several Indian companies have competed successfully with the best in the world. Indian professionals now command the highest respect across the globe. Rajat Gupta, Vinod Khosla and other alumni from your institute have gone on to mould and create institutions to be proud of. It is against this backdrop that you graduate into a time full of opportunities.
Over five decades of independence – what does our nation have to show for it? With an adult literacy rate of 56.5% and with 35% of the population below the poverty line, the nation's social welfare efforts are an unqualified disaster.
we need a new Indian mindset for the 21st century. Let me talk a little about the cardinal attributes of this mindset.
Thanks to colonization of over a thousand years, our society is one where people are distrusted and oppressed. A society where the interest of the government is seen as more important than the interest of the people; where the jobs of a few thousand people in public sector institutions are held more sacrosanct than the millions of consumers they are expected to serve; where an Indian multinational feels less trusted by its own government than by governments abroad; and where bureaucrats assume that they know more about running world-class technological institutions than the finest intellectuals in those organizations.
Unfortunately, even after fifty years of independence, we have not overcome the legacy mindset of our erstwhile rulers who, ironically, have themselves changed rapidly in their own country. We have to understand that public sector interest is not public interest and that the interest of the government is not the same as the interest of the people. One demonstration of this understanding is the proactive removal of all monopolies for the government. Government monopolies all over the world invariably create asymmetry between the benefits to government officials and the people. It is difficult for me to understand why the government retains licensing in education while it has disbanded industrial licensing to a large extent. Over a period of ten to twenty years, the government should gradually get out of all activities other than defence, external affairs, home, macroeconomic policy-making, and regulation in all areas of commerce.
Another bane of this thousand-year long enslavement is apathy. The main reason why India is still very backward is our unwillingness to take proactive action even when the solution to the problem is staring us in the face for a long time. A fatalist mentality conveniently blames reality and refuses to take responsibility for solving problems. We have become a nation that is good in rhetoric but poor in action.
we have become, perhaps, the only nation in the world where people fight to be called backward rather than forward!
We adopted an economic model where the government took on the responsibility to create and sustain jobs without any regard for efficiency and accountability. The result is underemployment, inefficiency, insubordination, demoralisation of the merited ones and value destruction in the economy.
the reputation of the Indian professional is very poor in living up to contractual obligations. In fact, a large number of the professionals who received financial assistance either from the government or from educational institutions for studies abroad have gone back on their repayment commitments in a manner that neither they nor their children can ever be proud of. One hundred percent compliance with contracts is the only way to help future generations benefit from initiatives to provide financial help to worthy and needy students.
Seems to be the right thing to say, isn't it? I say similar things, too.
So what's wrong with this? Nothing on the surface.
But there is a fundamental disconnect between what Mr Murthy says and what he does.
I believe it it TOTALLY WRONG to exhort others to not indulge in rhetoric but to take action when he himself is the CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF RHETORIC, NOT ACTION.
Just as the credibility of people like MMS and Shashi Tharoor has been totally shredded by their joining and supporting the most corrupt outfit in India's 5000 year history – the CONgress party – so also Mr. Murthy's credibility has been shot to pieces by his mere exhortation without action for the past decade. How many times does one have to listen to this blather, with ZERO action.
The same approach has been taken by Nandan Nilekani (see this
). These people say a lot but the moment time comes to take action, they freeze – in fright or in cowardice.
JRD Tata was the ONLY leading Indian businessman who, in the midst of grave danger to his own company's prospects, had the courage to fight Nehru and funded Swatantra Party. These people are puny pygmies in comparison. They have far greater wealth, and far greater connectivity, but ZERO courage. Not even a pale imitation of JRD in courage and leadership.
I say these strong words with deep regret since for many years I had hoped that India's fight for freedom will be fought on the shoulders of IT geniuses such as these, for they always seemed to say the right thing. But then they rushed to the coat tails of Sonia Gandhi. ZERO SELF RESPECT.
Let me exhort them (and mine is not idle rhetoric: I have actually given up a major career in India in the IAS for the sake of a much greater future for India) – that if they are CITIZENS OF INDIA and not slaves of Sonia Gandhi and the corrupt gangsters who rule India, then let them stand up and launch a political movement for reform. Enough said. Either do something or SHUT UP. This hypocrisy just boils my blood.
If they are genuinely serious, they should join FTI
and give it the filip it deserves, as the ONLY pre-political formation that is determined to enhance freedom in India. Do this, or be sidelined in history as stooges of the Congress Party and ENEMIES of the people of India. The world is black and white. Either you are with the White Force or against it.