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August 20, 2017

First published August 19, 2017

 in The Economic Times

Narayana Murthy: The Bhishma who will not be pinned out of the battlefield so easily

Published 20th August, 2017, in the Economic Times.

So the Kshatriya has left the room. Vishal Sikka, MD and CEO of InfosysBSE -9.60 %, who identified himself as a corporate “warrior” a few months earlier, has resigned, and in his resignation letter has referred to being “besieged by false, baseless, malicious and increasingly personal attacks”.

What was the source of this siege? Shareholders? Founders? Narayana Murthy, in particular, who relentlessly complained about overpayment of the top management as well as inadequate boardroom governance, perhaps valorising Brahminical austerity over Kshatriya bravado? We will never know the truth.

Like all corporate professionals, all answers will be couched in rational technical jargon, with the right dash of morality, which will hide all underlying emotions. However, Sikka’s resignation letter reminds us of the deep bitterness that accompanied the way Cyrus Mistry was ousted from the Tata group. Ratan Tata’s will prevailed. And now one of India’s most respected conglomerate is set to scrap all dealings with Shapoorji Pallonji, an old partner in-arms.

A complete breakdown of relationships, no doubt, that follows bitter court cases and defamation suits. A few days ago Vijaypat Singhania claimed that he was reduced to a hand-to-mouth existence by his son, Gautam, who he accused of running Raymond as a personal fiefdom, and against whom he had slapped a court case, a case he was willing to withdraw if Gautam was willing to swear in the name of Tirupati Balaji that his allegations were false.

These are clearly cases of inter generational war, which are now also raging in the political arena, with Modi’s fan base determined to prove on social media that there is nothing good about Nehru or the Nehru era, for the legacy of the Nehru-Gandhi clan (also known as Indian National Congress) festers as a threat from the past that will not go away.

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