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Ex-Infosys Board Member Omkar Goswami’s ‘Scathing’ Open Letter To Narayana Murthy Is A Joke

I have some questions for him.

28/08/2017 8:54 AM IST | Updated 28/08/2017 8:54 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Mr. N R Narayana Murthy has been under some criticism for having raised some questions that remain unanswered by the erstwhile CEO Vishal Sikka or the present Infosys board. The refrain of "founders go away—leave the company alone" has been echoing in the present boardrooms of Infosys.

In line with this was a scathing attack by Omkar Goswami in an open letter to Mr. Murthy. When I read this tirade, I thought, by jove, he must be one hell of a fellow; maybe he's even founded bigger and better companies than Mr. Murthy. But well, not quite. While Goswami has been on numerous boards, he doesn't have to his credit an iota of what Mr. Murthy has achieved in his lifetime.

While Goswami has been on numerous boards, he doesn't have to his credit an iota of what Mr. Murthy has achieved in his lifetime.

When I wrote about Vishal Sikka in HuffPost this January, I thought I had crossed a bit of a line in making some assumptions. But it's a great feeling to be proved right now and then and that too in the public domain.

But I digress—let's go back to Omkar Goswami.

According to the Wikipedia page about him, he is an economist by education, having earned a PhD from Oxford by writing a dissertation on the pre-independence (1900-1947) jute economy of Bengal. My first impression upon reading his profile: a well educated economist, academician, and a columnist of repute with a doctorate on a defunct topic in today's world.

So, now let me ask him a few questions since the season of open letters and editorials is in full swing. Here goes.

Dear Omkar Goswami:

  • Have you managed a P&L ever in your life?
  • Have you ever founded a company?
  • Have you ever been regarded as the father of any industry?
  • Have you ever held been in a position where an ocean of investors have remained vested on your credibility?
  • Have you ever taken a decision that has created immense value for yourself or for any company and its shareholders?
  • Have you set a precedent for transparency and compliance, such as quarterly reporting and guidance, far before it became a statutory norm for listed companies?
  • Do you have any claim to fame being beyond a consultant? (A consultant is popularly an analyst/advisor who has all the opinion and authority in the world without any direct responsibility.)

And lastly

  • Does anyone know you or respect you as an epitome of corporate governance in any circle whatsoever?

Mr. Goswami, if the answer to any of the above questions were yes, I wouldn't have had to look up who you are on Wikipedia.

And if the same questions were to be put to Mr. Murthy, the answer to each one would be a resounding yes.

It surprises me that people who have their skin in the game, who have founded companies and then nurtured them for a major part of their life, and have earned and commanded (through their deeds, hard work and thought leadership) respect and adulation are being questioned by people who have nothing even approximating these credentials. Most of the present board members of Infosys are retired professionals /executives who are now playing an extended innings (I am sure) for some remuneration.

Mr. Murthy—the world (India and beyond) has looked up to your values and admires what you have preached and practiced all your life.

If a company is to survive beyond the global average of 33-35 years, decision makers and opinionists must have their skin in the game. Else it takes just a few quarters of bad decision-making to bring down companies.

Mr. Murthy—the world (India and beyond) has looked up to your values and admires what you have preached and practiced all your life.

So what if you asked a few pertinent questions or for a few documents of a deal to be made public or raised a doubt on the remuneration of someone who has little evidence of achievement in your opinion?

You founded Infosys. It's is in your right to do so and I am sure millions like me stand by you for your ideology and spirit.

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