- no longer possible to sell India story
Things worse than 1991, no longer possible to sell India story: Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus, Infosys
"We have fallen far short of expectations and it's no longer possible to sell the India story," said NR Narayana Murthy, chairman emeritus, Infosys, in an interview to ET NOW, this paper's TV channel.
"The world expected a lot from us. And compared to that expectation, we have fallen very very short. And therefore, I would say, this is worse than 1991," Murthy said. "I meet a lot of CEOs outside India and earlier India was mentioned once every three times China was mentioned. But now, if China is mentioned 30 times, India is not even mentioned once," he added.
Government indifference to the plight of business has brought decision-making to an unnecessary standstill, he believes. "A lot of decisions can be taken within the ambit of current legislation," Murthy said, especially on several issues that impact the IT industry - one issue is that some I-T officials do not recognise a statement of work, and insist on a company negotiating a new master agreement for every project. "Now, this is not done anywhere in the world and we have been arguing with the I-T Department," he said. "If this is my job, tough decisions have to be taken. We have to accept that."
Murthy said he has submitted presentations to the prime minister, and written to (then finance minister) Pranab Mukherjee on such issues: "It has been fourteen months and nothing has been done. "Now, this is not in the realm of legislation. It's not about ideology, politics. All that this requires is one senior bureaucrat to say 'let's adopt global standards'. And it can be done in a few hours." Most of the problems faced by investors are of this nature, he said.
Other issues, which are currently being used to disrupt the functioning of Parliament, are really matters for the courts. "Let's leave it to the court to decide who is right and who is wrong. Let us not pre-judge and let us get on with the business in Parliament," Murthy said. He also puts retrospective changes to tax laws in that category: "When the Supreme Court has ruled on a certain case, to go back and say I will change the law, to me, is very surprising."
Reverse Retro Tax, Says Murthy
"These are not things that an aspiring economy should do. The impact has been sad and confidence of global investors has been shaken very, very badly."
The government should reverse the retrospective changes that impact Vodafone and other foreign companies, he maintains, and go as far as to ensure that no further retrospective changes are allowed. "We must come to a conclusion politically that we will not do things on a retrospective basis unless there is something drastically wrong with the law and even that is for the court to decide," Murthy said. In another interview to a television channel, the Infosys founder offered some advice to the prime minister. "Please encourage your bureaucrats, your ministers, to take quick decisions. That's all what I am requesting him. Nothing else."
- ET 1.09.2012
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