Nandan Nilekani, while heading Infosys, never had second thoughts on recruiting people other than those who secured the highest grade. However, he is now all for reservations and wooing 'poor' voters
Many people are surprised at the rapid conversion of Nandan Nilekani, the former head honcho of Infosys into a 'typical' political leader of the Congress party. His remarks over the weekend about reservation in the private sector left many people wondering as to why this was not implemented when he was heading Infosys, the country's second largest IT company.
Speaking with reporters at Bangalore Press Club, Nilekani said that reservations in private sector are necessary. “In India, certain sections of the society because of historical reasons were handicapped and thus require a leg up through reservations. Even at Infosys we tried encouraging people of all backgrounds," Nilekani was quoted as saying in a report from firstbiz.com.
Even in his book, ‘Imagining India’, Nilekani had advocated a 'marks subsidy' for backward classes (page 302, Extra Marks in Exams). The question, however, is what stopped Nilekani from implementing this when he was heading the country's second top IT services company. Interestingly, even today, Infosys employs only people who have scored high(est) grade in first attempt and there is no reservation policy. It is proud to be a merit-based organisation
Reacting indirectly on Nilekani's views about reservation in private sector, TV Mohandas Pai, former chief financial officer and head of human resources, tweeted: "selling his soul for power; made his money in the company wedded to meritocracy."
What Nilekani has spoken is all his party bosses are trying to use as an election gimmick to woo voters. According to a report from Economic Times, Congress, which goes into the general elections facing a major anti-incumbency wave, is desperate to woo its traditional vote base of dalits and scheduled tribes that has been weaned away by parties such as BSP and BJP.
"In the recent assembly elections, Congress has won only six of the 91 reserved seats for scheduled castes, down from 38 seats in 2008. The party hopes the slew of promises in education, employment and quality of life for these groups will help it win back some of their support. A major cornerstone of this approach would be reservation in private sector jobs, a move that was proposed in the 2004 and 2009 manifestos but could not be pushed by UPA," the report says.
According to media reports, Congress is trying to include a proposal to legislate job reservations for scheduled class and scheduled tribes (SC/STs) in private companies with investments worth Rs100 crore or employing 1,000 people. It also wants to introduce reservation in private schools for class I admissions, free post-matriculate education and a Rs25,000 voucher for every graduate.
Nilekani, who till last week was chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and had been enforcing the Aadhaar number based on biometrics on Indians. On Thursday, he resigned as chief of UIDAI and jumped into 'active' politics on Sunday as Congress candidate from south Bengaluru constituency.
While the Supreme Court has ruled that the unique identification (UID) number or Aadhaar is not mandatory to avail essential services from the government, it was Nilekani who was making sure that it is made mandatory by using governmental clout with oil companies and banks. This is because, he was either heading or part of every committee or group that was turning the 'voluntary' Aadhaar number into mandatory one. (Nandan Nilekani is part of every committee and group that is making Aadhaar mandatory )
AstraZeneca Pharma India board approves delisting offer from its Sweden based promoters AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. However, it is yet to obtain approval of its shareholders
AstraZeneca Pharma India Ltd (AZ India) said its board approved delisting proposal received from its parent AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals AB (AZP). The proposal, however would require approval from shareholders.
Sweden-based AZP holds 75% stake while foreign institutional investors (FIIs) holds 15.93% share in AZ India. However, As per SEBI rules on delisting, AZP needs to buy an additional 15% to take its stake 90% to get its Indian unit delisted.
A week ago, Moneylife wrote; Insider trading in AstraZeneca Pharma? As One day before AstraZeneca Pharma announced delisting, its volumes spurted and share prices shot up by 9.13%. Earlier, on 5th March, AZ India board asked for additional information from its AZP regarding its voluntary delisting offer. On 15th March, AZ India held board meeting, in which board has approved voluntary delisting offer of AZP AB.
Moneylife earlier wrote about, The deadly delisting itch of AstraZeneca Pharma India, explaining how AstraZeneca is on course to achieve its decade-long plan to delist its shares from the Indian bourses by hook or by crook.
AstraZeneca closed Tuesday 2.8% higher at Rs1,192 on BSE, while the 30-share Sensex ended the day marginally up at 21,832.
The question is: Will a change in government lead to any re-think about framing policies to get the best out of India Uninc? We believe that it will require a lot of public debate and systematic advocacy, based on every chapter of this path-breaking book, before we can nudge the government to even start thinking differently. Prof Vaidyanathan has provided the intellectual framework for this discussion backed by hardcore research. It is now up to us to take the debate forward with his help.
Sucheta Dalal is the managing editor of Moneylife. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2006 for her outstanding contribution to journalism. She can be reached at [email protected]