Rama Bijapurkar quietly quit the Infosys board

The only woman director on the board of Infosys Technologies quit last year, and the usually politically-correct company does not have a single woman on the board of the company or its subsidiaries

It is considered to be a company with the highest standards of corporate governance, best financial reporting standards and is said to be most conscious about what is politically correct. But at a time when Murli Deora, Union minister for corporate affairs, is threatening to make it mandatory for all companies to have a woman director, we found that Infosys Technologies, the torchbearer of best corporate practices, has none.

Rama Bijapurkar, the lone woman director on the board of Infosys, quit in April last year. What is more surprising though, is how low-key her exit has been. In fact, we discovered that Ms Bijapurkar was no longer on the board only while checking on the implications of the rejig that would occur at Infosys. A quick search produced a further surprise. Ms Bijapurkar resigned in April 2010 and a notice to this effect was sent to the stock exchanges at the time.

Yet, not even the 24x7 business media that endlessly dissect trivial business developments, found this worth a detailed mention; nor did any of the several publications that regularly carry her columns. After all, a position on the Infosys board is one of the most coveted directorships in the country today.

Ms Bijapurkar joined the Infosys board in March 2001 and quit in just under a decade, effective 13th April 2010. At the time, NR Narayana Murthy recorded the board's appreciation saying, "Rama has been a highly productive member of the Board and we will miss her. We wish her all the best for the future." There was no mention about why she quit, no excuses about health or personal reasons, no statement about nation-building or looking for greener pastures-although which pasture could be greener than a directorship at Infosys?

Our attempts to find out why Ms Bijapurkar quit have drawn a blank so far. Ms Bijapurkar has not responded to our email query and Mr Narayana Murthy has not responded to our text message. Of the three other directors whom we asked, Omkar Goswami said, "We follow a rule that we collectively made a few years ago. All questions regarding the Board would be answered by Mr Murthy as the Chairman". TV Mohandas Pai, who announced his decision to quit on Friday, said, "It is best Murthy answers this; it is not fair for me to answer." Deepak Satawlekar, who is a director and also a member of the nominations committee, said, "The stock exchanges were informed of her leaving the board. The nominations committee is deliberating on the induction of additional directors."

What he does not say is that Ms Bijapurkar quit a year ago. Some insiders tell us that she resigned a few months earlier and that her resignation was accepted only in April last year. The replies seem to indicate that there is more to the exit than meets the eye and it is curious that while the nominations committee has inducted a new director (Ravi Venkatesan), it has not found a woman suitable to induct on the board.

All that will change if the corporate affairs ministry has its way. The ministry's proposal requires all companies with five or more independent directors to ensure that at least one of the directors is a woman. Isn't it ironical that even corporate India will pay lip service only to the contribution of women, and induct them as directors only when the government mandates a quota.

1 decade ago
don't cry, sucheta ma'am! if women want directorship, earn it! don't expect a quota like ladies compartment in local trains! : )
K Narayanan
1 decade ago
Plainly speaking I don't understand the matter-big issue made out of non-issue. MsRama a seasoned professionals was taken on the board and she exited after sometine.Can MsRama and MrPai start a co like infosys and grow it .Whether you like it or not -professionals are professionals-no more no less.Entrepreneurs take huge risk and nurture a co.NRN did show India that a co can be run ethically-say to a larger extent.Many employees benifitted and many investers benefitted.He put India on the world map and earned huge forex which was in short supply.Arm chair analysts and professionals cannot tell what he shd do and not do.He has grown his co too big and running further is difficult.When Tatas took over Corus and Jaguar and Landrovar everybody said it was a reverse East India co and when world crashed everyone criticized him.Now they are doing well.What is right and what is wrong only time will tell.It is NRN's fault in having created a high moral and ethical standard for all and sundry to criticize him.I do not hold any share of Infy .I am not an employee or ex employee nor any of my children is employed in his co.It is a plain observation
Avinash Murkute
1 decade ago
In your article - Company with the highest standards of corporate governance - i have some experiences with their management of Central Processing Centre aliac CPC. Going by the Highest Standard of Corporate Governance, I am sure if manipulations at CPC are arrested in time, the day will come, tax payers will have to pay fee(bribe) to consultants to get their tax returns. And this will be on the lines of getting PAN card home delivered at 200.00 within week's time and at 1000.00 very shortly. In fact I have alleged this to Vigilance Commissioner of Income Tax and he replied, contact to CCIT concerned, as if he doesn't have MANDATE to act against Infosys having highest standards of corporate governance which functions like this. Very Shortly, Shortly, Very Very Shortly, Couple of Days, Few Days, Couple of Weeks, within 6 months and after 6 month in another within 6 months. In fact CPC Bangalore executives, can't even read and write this is my documented experience. When commitment is missing or corrupted @ CPC how can one vouch for highest standards of corporate governance. It is unforunate that one one vendor is managing tax platter. Hope Pranabda gives us more choices of vendors who can demonstrate highest standards of corporate governance very quickly.
R Balakrishnan
1 decade ago
Proprietory/professional cos do not show much difference. The gloss is different. The professionals exit quietly, selling their shares. M Pai exit is creating some waves. Infy is a great candidate for a takeover by a MNC- (IBM?).. Matter of time..
1 decade ago
Seems like moneylife found this piece now, and thought it was still time it could raise its trp ratings.. And at the highest levels, there's no thing as favouring one person over the other because of the gender they belong to. There shouldn't be, ideally.
Replied to Nitin comment 1 decade ago
This guy seems confused between television and digital... wanted to express my surprise that Rama's exit remained unnoticed (cant be) or was suppressed (most likely, given her media skills) for a whole year. Then i find this silly statement. Well... I guess readers come in all shapes, sizes and mindsets!! :-)
Replied to smriti comment 1 decade ago
@Shruti, Some of us scout for news we can use, rather than go around judging people's mindsets, and least bothered bout their sizes and shapes. A one year old "news" is no news. Generally irrelevant. My crib was about the media (digital/television media divide has blurred, trp was used in a loose sense, apologies.) . Not about the lady who resigned.

Trumping that with a sensational "lone woman director" title was cheap, IMHO. A director is somebody who directs the ship. The most able person ideally should be doing it, irrespective of race or gender. Again, IMHO. I stand by my statements, however silly any more-evolved person might find them.
Replied to smriti comment 1 decade ago
Media- whether visual or print or digital – need eyeballs.

This is essential for their survival.

The question should be asked is whether a media house merely thrives on sensationalising things or does some solid work. I believe that Moneylife focuses on bringing out real issues to the attention of readers.

It is not that one need to agree with whatever Moneylife says. Perceptions can definitely vary. But I honestly do feel that Moneylife focuses on fundamentals than mere sensationalisation.

I don’t consider anything wrong if they want more readers. If you or I run a magazine, our thinking would be no different. Aspirations are not bad. Infact it can be a motivating force do more work on the chosen area.
Anil Agashe
1 decade ago
The very fact that most IT cos are sitting on idle cash shows tt they are investor unfriendly. They say they are conserving cash for possible takeovers. No big takeover has taken place. May be they are all going to make a bid on Microsoft some day by pooling their cash!
1 decade ago
so,could you please prove that a worthy woman candidate -all else being equal,was stood down as a replacement?
and as far as deora goes,sure,rabri devi is his ideal of woman representative.whats with the obsessive with physical difference?
i dont see any contribution to infosys from rama,just because she was a woman .
leela singh
Replied to pravin comment 1 decade ago
Hey, that suggests that there are no worthy women candidates. This in a country where large chunks of the financial sector is headed by women!! get your facts right ... this is no place for MCP views.
The bigger issue is WHY such a quiet exit for a high profile woman? I cant believe that the TV channels that track everything that Infosys does missed the news. Surely she is as high profile as Mohandas Pai? strange indeed.
Replied to leela singh comment 1 decade ago
sure.YOU tell me who should have been a replacement for Rama.and YOU tell me why the current incumbent (if there is any) is worse than the woman-that-could-have-been.
MCP thinking?.what you are spouting is not top grade feminist thinking either -it is mere pandering to politically correct nonsense.

the fact that media channels missed out her exit,is something for them to mull over.maybe they missed an opportunity to garner TRP ratings.food for thought: start a news channel that tracks exits of women in power.
infosys is an IT company and why do women from financial industries alone be good directors as you seem to suggest? arent their women in other sectors?
Replied to pravin comment 1 decade ago
what rubbish. what does all this have to do with the rather quiet exit. as the comments below shows, everybody is surprised. doesnt that say something?
1 decade ago
All talk about ethics in business is totally bogus and the people at helm of affairs make their own rule and exploit the people to the maximum extent and siphon off funds. MERA BHARAT MAHAN.
1 decade ago
I sometimes think, it will be better to sack NRN Murty and instead bring Sudha Murthy on board. She is smarter than him and take Infosys forward.
1 decade ago
Slowly and surrely the US big fat cats are getting into all the profit making gravy trains of India and Infosys is being blackmailed into accepting US citizens or their nominees like ICCI bank head etc.Also as one can see in Ravi Venkatesh a yes man of the powers who realy control the Infosys board.
j balaji
1 decade ago
Kindly mail your articles. very unique site and very useful site for people working in financial service industry like me.
Shashi Ullal
1 decade ago
The accusations against Infy & its board are unfair. I have known Mr.Narayana Murthy & Mr. Nandan Nilekani since the mid 80s.They are some of the finest human beings I have known.That's why Infy is what it is today-- the only company of its size promoted by middle class people, with midlle class morality, culture & integrity, as contrasted with business classmorality,culture & integrity, with which we are all familiar.
I have also known Rama. She has one of the finest marketing brains that I can visualize.She is also a very low-key person & must have had a valid/personal reason/s to quit the Infy board,without any publicity.So. let's not impute any kind of negativity for her resignation.
Replied to Shashi Ullal comment 1 decade ago
Every thing including genuine good human beings with middle class morality comes with an expiry date. Persons who are aware and recognize same early are great leaders. Look at Nelson Mandela.
Shareholder of Axis Bank
1 decade ago
Ms Rama Bijapurkar is also on the Board of Axis Bank. Whenever we write to the Company Secretary of Axis Bank, we are not getting any reply, this shows how the corporate governance functions in India. In the Annual Report Corporate shows that we have received 10 complaints resolved 10, is it the true picture? Are the corporate serious about the transparency in corporate governance.

Can anyone provide us the email id of Ms Rama Bijapurkar, as we have been writing to the company secretary for the email id of the board of directors, but the company secretary newer replies to the email.
1 decade ago
Infosys has certain tough questions to answer. No doubt about it.

However we cannot forget the fact that Infosys is the first on many counts like giving importance to meritocracy, corporate governance, sharing wealth with employees etc.

Though Tata was already into philanthropy; Sudha Murthy through Infosys foundation gave a significant thrust to the same.

Mohandas Pai along with ISKCON initiated the feeding of good food to lakhs of school students in Karnataka through ‘Akshaya Paatra’ scheme.

Infosys has proven itself to be a responsible corporate citizen.

NRN became a role model for many entrepreneurs who wanted to make it big without compromising ethics or doing anything illegal.

No wonder young India’s preferred employment destination is Infosys and these girls and boys command a premium in marriage market.

Please note that I do not hold any shares in Infosys. Probably the mutual fund schemes I’ve invested in may own.

When I was in BPO, Progeon (now Infosys BPO) asked me to send my resume and rejected it indicating that I did not do well in my school, my college and PG grades do not match up to their expectations!

The 10% drop in share prices , Pai announcing his decision to quit and markets getting upset with the company – all happened on the day my nephew joined Infosys, his first ever employment.

I never thought he would start his career with such a big bang!
Nagesh KiniFCA
1 decade ago
Nagesh Kini's reply to Govind Gadiyar I'm inclined to agree with Govind.
That this high profile takes a big hit on such issues is not a great investment and may as well part with it.
I attended the 2010 AGM which was "colourless" because of Rama's absence.
Free Helpline
Legal Credit