Phaneesh Murthy saga: Why insurers should refuse to cover serial offenders of sexual harassment #Womenrights


 SUCHETA DALAL | 23/05/2013

If you work in risky jobs or have a medical condition, you pay a higher premium. Some people are even denied insurance. Shouldn’t insurers refuse to cover serial offenders of sexual-harassment too? This may help women get a fairer treatment in companies

When iGate hired and helped rehabilitate Phaneesh Murthy, the disgraced marketing whiz kid, this is what Ashok Trivedi, its founder, had to say. “For us, this deal is like getting Babe Ruth and the whole Yankees team at the same time. Not only do we get Phaneesh and the crackerjack team of Quintant but we also get to add their expertise in the BSP domain to our fast growing BPO business”. Of course, he did not have a word to say about Murthy’s serial misbehaviour with women employees, while he was a star, the blue-eyed boy at Infosys, and how iGate planned to contain a similar damage to itself.
Ten years later, iGate may have sacked its “Babe Ruth” but it still faces the prospect of an expensive lawsuit or settlement with its former employee, on account of Murthy’s uncontrolled peccadilloes. And while iGate may have celebrated its entry into the billion dollar IT club by gifting Phaneesh Murthy a Ferrari, it is now left to handle the assimilation of Patni Computers merger, without its star player.
What we are keen on watching is how insurance companies react to this. Consider this. If you declare that you have diabetes or an angioplasty in your medical insurance form, your insurance cover shoots up. Airline and shipping companies pay a significantly higher premium because they operate in risky professions. Shouldn’t the same hold true when companies hire senior executives accused of sexual harassment or try and brush the problem under the carpet by sacking the women who complained?
Let’s take a look at all the things iGate ignored when it hired Phaneesh Murthy with much fanfare.
• The last time around, Murthy accused Reka Maximovitch of being a “gold digger” but it turned out that she had to take a restraining order against him that Infosys was blissfully unaware of. This time he is accusing his former girlfriend of ‘extortion’, but media reports say she is pregnant with his child and he was forcing her to abort it and quietly leave the company. Her action was probably provoked by this fact and is bound to cost iGate. It is incredible that the board had no clue what was going on after having hired a CEO with a reputation for sexual harassment.
• In 2003, Phaneesh Murthy made nasty innuendos about having sent Infosys a legal notice about vested stock options; he also suggested he wanted to fight the case but had his lies nailed with a point-by-point rebuttal by Infosys. He agreed to a $3million settlement in the Rexa Maximovitch.
• Not only this, there is another $800,000 paid by Infosys and the insurance company to another ex-Infosys employee, Jennifer Griffith, in a similar settlement. Murthy reportedly got away without paying anything.
This brings us to the issue of the Directors & Officers liability cover that companies take to protect themselves from charges against key employees. The question is simple: Will insurers cover top executives who are hired despite having paid/settled sexual harassment charges? If insurers do not impose conditions about serial offenders like Phaneesh Murthy, then their shareholders ought to be asking some tough questions.
In the US, companies tend to settle, rather than avoid expensive lawsuits which are also extremely damaging to their reputation as employers. After all, no good employer wants to be seen protecting those accused of sexual harassment. In India it is still the opposite. In fact, consulting companies that preach good governance and offer consultancy for a fat fee are among the worst offenders.
A lot of people are fully aware of the dogged fight that a smart chartered accountant has been fighting for a decade against KPMG. The company let go of the accused senior partner only in the past few months after the Delhi gang-rape and the Justice Varma committee report made it clear that middle-class India, which forms the bulk of employees in information technology companies, is no longer tolerant about sexual harassment in the workplace or outside.
As Moneylife reported yesterday, the demand for Directors  & Officers liability policies is still low in India and these policies are don’t necessarily cover sexual harassment explicitly. So far, companies are careful about their liability only when it comes to international operations. It is routine in India to sack women employees who dare to speak up. Even in the few cases where action is initiated against senior employees, the victim gets nothing and organisations go out of their way to protect the employee by hiding details about their sacking.
Worse, companies usually give such employees the option to resign which leave no negative record and allows the employee to seek employment elsewhere. Indian companies are big beneficiaries of the slow legal system and their clout. The charteredaccountant who dared to speak out against her boss, had her reputation dragged through the mud, faced vile posts on the internet and had faced every dirty trick in the book that delayed and blocked investigation. At the same time, the company forked out large sums of money to buy out lawyers or hire the most expensive legal brains in the country to harass the victim.
In fact, this global consulting company’s tactics have become a shining example of why smart women, who are concerned about career progress, would prefer to switch jobs rather than complain about sexual harassment. Unfortunately for Indian women, the legal system has let down career women so far. If complaining about sexual harassment puts an end to your career and leads to several decades of humiliating legal battles, it is no choice at all. Worse, sexual harassment remains rampant and unspoken in the three places that ought to lead the battle against sexual harassment—the Supreme Court, the media and politics. There is a conspiracy of silence when it comes to the transgression of senior politicians, editors, advocates and lawyers—how can women expect justice in this scenario? At least, if insurance for these situations is really costly, or if there is no insurance available for serial offenders of sexual harassment, it will check the malaise while we still wait for a systemic cure.

 

iGATE terminates employment of CEO Phaneesh Murthy on sexual misconduct charges #Vaw


ET Bureau May 21, 2013
(This is the second time Murthy…)

BANGALORE: Nasdaq-listed iGATE Corporation announced that its board of directors has terminated the employment ofpresident and chief executive officer Phaneesh Murthy as a result of an investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding a relationship that Murthy had with a subordinate employee and a claim of sexual harassment.

The Board has appointed Gerhard Watzinger as President and CEO on an interim basis.

“The investigation, which is ongoing, has reached the finding that Murthy’s failure to report this relationship violated iGATE’s policy, as well as Murthy’s employment contract,” company said in a statement. “The investigation has not uncovered any violation of iGATE’s harassment policy.”

A former head of sales at India’s second largest software exporter Infosys, this is the second time Murthy is getting entangled in a sexual harassment case involving another employee of the same organization. Earlier in 2003, Murthy faced a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by his former executive secretary at Infosys Reka Maximovitch. Maximovitch had complained of sexual harassment and wrongful termination of employment. Infosys, settled the lawsuit out of court for $3 million.

Co-founder and co-chairman Sunil Wadhwani said that the board “deliberated extensively” on the matter

“We recognize the significant contributions Mr. Murthy has provided over the past ten years in helping to establish iGATE as a leader in the IT industry. He has worked hard to improve the value of iGATE, and we greatly appreciate his efforts. However, as a result of this violation of iGATE policy, we asked Mr. Murthy to step down,” Wadhwani said.

The other co-founder and co-chairman Ashok Trivedi said that Murthy’s departure was not related in any way to the company’s operational or financial performance.

Gerhard Watzinger, age 52, has previously worked at iGATE from 1998 to 2003 in a number of roles, including CEO of the iGATE Solutions business. Watzinger returns to iGATE from security software-maker now owned by Intel chip-maker McAfee, where he was EVP and Chief Strategy Officer.

Wadhwani and Trivedi will work closely with Watzinger during his tenure as interim president and CEO to ensure a seamless transition.

A Search Committee within the Board of Directors has been created, which will oversee the process for the identification and selection of a new president and CEO. Watzinger has taken himself out of consideration but he will serve until the selection process is complete.

iGate does not expect to make any additional structural or executive leadership changes in the near future.

 

Infosys to pay Rs.20 lakh as compensation to ‘Jaipur blast suspect’ #goodnews


_

Tuesday March 12, 2013 , Agencies

New Delhi: India‘s leading IT firm Infosys has agreed in the Rajasthan High Court to pay Rs.20 lakh as compensation to Rashid Husain, an IT Engineer, whom it sacked after he was detained in the 2008 Jaipur blasts.

Rashid Husain was detained by the Jaipur police for questioning in connection with the serial blasts that killed around 60 people on 13th May 2008. He was neither arrested, nor charge-sheeted for the blasts.

Infosys however terminated him within weeks of the detention without issuing any show-cause notice and without giving him an opportunity to defend.

He was kept in detention for 10 days and was later released as no evidence against him was found.

Rashid Husain challenged the termination order in the local labor court in August 2008. After three years of hearing, the labor court delivered judgment in his favor in March 2011.

According to Rashid’s counsel Prem Kishan Sharma, the court had observed there were “mala fide” intentions behind his termination.

“The applicant was not offered any opportunity to explain or give evidence on charges levelled against him about concealment of facts and submission of wrong facts.

“The termination is in violation of the Rajasthan Shops and Commercial Establishment Act, 1958. Therefore, he is entitled to be reinstated in service,” the order had said.

Infosys moved the Rajasthan High Court in April 2011 against the labor court judgment. But, the company agreed after 20 months in the High Court to pay a compensation of Rs.20 lakh to the sacked engineer.

After the settlement between Infosys and Husain, the High Court disposed of the case on 21st Jan 2013.

Unconvincing #Aadhaar #UID


200 px

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My reason for going to listen to Nandan Nilekani at an Indian Express ‘adda’ last week was because I believe his Aadhaar programme is a huge hoax on the people of India but I have an open mind and am prepared to be convinced otherwise. I see it as a hoax because I believe that taxpayer’s money that could be much better spent on rural schools, roads, hospitals and sanitation is being squandered on a scheme that, in my view, has no obvious benefits and that is too centralised and directionless to make a real difference to reducing poverty if this is its real goal. From long years of reporting in rural India the most important lesson I have learned is that it is locally controlled development schemes that work best. Any scheme that is designed in distant Delhi and controlled from there generally ends up by mostly benefiting corrupt officials. I very much fear that this will happen to Aadhaar once it starts being used to transfer vast quantities of cash for destitute beneficiaries.  But, I have known Nandan since the days when he was in charge of Infosys and so have always been eager to understand why he agreed to lend his name to something that could end up as one of the Indian government’s biggest and most expensive white elephants.

The ‘adda’ was organised on a balmy evening in the Olive Restaurant near the racecourse in Mumbai. We gathered in a courtyard where white wicker chairs had been set in a semi-circle under a tall and beautiful tree. As dusk fell a gentle breeze brought with it the scent of stables and birds nestled in the tree with loud screeches.  Guests from the world of commerce and journalism mingled over glasses of white and red wine and delicious canapés. Nandan was at his amiable best and greeted old friends from his days as a student in the IIT in this city. I chose to avoid mingling and concentrate instead on finding a place as close to the stage as possible so that I could be better positioned to ask Nandan a question or two. This turned out not to be such a good strategy because Nandan spotted me while he was expounding on the benefits of his Aadhaar scheme and informed the gathering that everyone thought Aadhaar was a good idea ‘except Tavleen’ thereby ambushing me before I could get to asking my question.

Mister India
Shekhar Gupta was in conversation with Nandan and gave me my chance to ask my questions soon enough. I asked Nandan to explain what he believed would be the main benefit of the Aadhaar scheme, when we should expect to see it happen and why he thought biometrics could work in rural India on such a massive scale when they did not work atLondon airport on a much smaller scale. The Iris machines at Heathrow are supposed to allow you in without needing to have your passport examined by an immigration officer but it has been my experience that they are nearly always out of order or fail to recognise me when they work. Nandan answered only the biometrics part of the question by saying that 300 million people had already been enrolled so this meant that the biometrics were working already. He said a million people were being registered for an Aadhaar number every day. He did not answer the rest of the question and I thought it would be churlish to point this out but the day after the ‘adda’ I went to the Aadhaar registration centre in Colaba to see if it was functioning any better than it did when I last went there some months ago.

At that time I made two efforts to register and somehow always ended up on a day when the centre was closed. So this time I sent someone to get the registration form for me in advance and was astonished to see that it was a two-page document on paper of such inferior quality that it would not survive a single year in a government file.  I wrote out my name, address and telephone number and last Monday went personally to the Colaba centre. It is in the dank, smelly basement of a municipal school and as far from modernity and biometrics as you can imagine. The small army of officials that man the centre work with rudimentary tools amid a scattering of cheap chairs and tables. A small wrought iron gate, that is permanently closed, separates them from the applicants queuing in the street outside.

Kafkaesque queues
When I joined the queue there were about fifty people ahead of me and they said they had been waiting a long time and did not think they would manage to register that day because there were signs that the centre was about to close. The man in front of me said, ‘I have come and queued here before and I have seen that they close fifteen minutes early and open fifteen minutes late. That is how it is every day.’ I asked why he wanted an Aadhaar card and he said it was because he had been told it was compulsory. When I talked to other people in the queue they confirmed that they were registering only because they had been told that if they did not then they would not be able to get cheap rations at government ration shops. They added that they had heard that it would not even be possible to get a passport without an Aadhaar card. They were people who seemed too poor to ever be able to travel to another country but what worried them was the possibility that they would lose their identity as Indian citizens.

In my own case I never got to hand in my registration form that morning because the centre closed before I could so I went back the next day and to my surprise found the centre closed. When I asked why it was closed two women officials said that the next date for accepting forms would be on Sunday at 10 a.m. Nobody explained why and so ended my fourth visit to this Aadhaar centre without having been able to take the first step towards getting my unique identification number. If my own experience is anything to go by it could take another two decades to register a billion Indians and by then people will have stopped wondering what the purpose of the scheme was in the first place.

 

 

 

Does Nandan Nilekani thinks citizens of India are DUMB ? #Aadhaar #UID


Nandan Nilekani

 

 

 

Didn’t grasp govt dynamics, but have support: Nilekani
Express news service Posted online: Sat Feb 16 2013, 00:58 hrs
Mumbai : Nandan Nilekani is not just determined to provide Aadhaar, the 12-digit individual identification number, to citizens across India but to make the idea “irreversible” and “sustainable” before the next elections.
“Making Aadhaar irreversible is a very important strategic objective. I think the irreversibility comes when half a billion Indians have Aadhaar number,” Nilekani, chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), said at the Express Adda here Thursday evening. “If we can reach 500 million people by 2014, then I think it’s set.”
On opposition to the concept within the government, he said he “didn’t understand the internal competitive dynamics of the government”.
However, Nilekani added, Aadhaar had got “terrific momentum” and “huge support” from various departments. “I received tremendous political support. It was tripartisan support… from UPA-ruled states, BJP states and Tripura. I personally went to every state and met the chief minister and bureaucrats.”
“Fundamentally you can’t do a project of this scale which has the potential to cause so much disruptive change without unstinted political endorsement. I think all key people in the government provided that unstinted political endorsement.”
Nilekani, who was in conversation with The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta and McKinsey & Company Chairman, India, Adil Zainulbhai, also said there was no real measurement of performance in something like UID. “My team at UIDAI is extremely passionate and the best part is that they are from the system,” he said.
Asked about the most challenging problem he had faced, the Infosys co-founder said: “Getting that design and architecture right to make a change is very, very important… When you want to make a change, there will always be a negative coalition against what you are doing. How do you create a minimally invasive method of implementing a change? Change by method is opposed. Make your change blunt… We can’t do much except move quickly and expeditiously.”
Did he ever think of giving up? “There were many occasions where I felt it was a bumpy ride… I faced great stress, but I never felt I should quit. I felt I have to see it through. If I fail, then I let down a thousand guys who wanted to do what I do. A lot of other people’s aspirations depend on my delivering,” Nilekani said.
UIDAI has already enrolled 300 million people and another 270 million have been issued numbers, he added. With it, Nilekani said, “government expenditure becomes more efficient. The entire cost of this project is less than $4 billion. Your annual expenditure on entitlements, subsidies etc is something like $60 billion. For a life-time investment of $4 billion, you get efficiency on $60 billion. Tomorrow it could be $100 billion.”

 

 

 

#India #Aadhaar #UID- The Big One- #Lawrence Cohen


The Big One

Posted on October 19, 2012

At the Annual South Asia Meetings this past week in Madison, Wisconsin, I organized a set of panels, with Gayatri Reddy and Martha Selby, on Number: participating were (in addition to we three) Sonal Acharya, Michele Friedner, Mather George, Ajay Skaria, and Harris Solomon.

The primary paper I gave was on UIDAI/Aadhaar. It was preceded by a somewhat more impressionistic set of comments on number designed to open the imagination as it were.

Both merit critique and so I am posting them here, though the first is tangentially relevant to UID, and both suffer from the limits of 15 minute presentations.

The conceit of the panel was that every paper be given a number as a title. My UID paper was entitled “1.”

Here it is, after the requisite picture of Madison.

South Asia, materialized annually on a Midwestern isthmus

1

Lawrence Cohen

A new and massive expansion of identity has been underway in India since the 1999 conflict with Pakistan known in the country as the Kargil War. Certitudes abound in the wake of this expansion: Geeta Patel yesterday spoke of a cottage industry of expertise. And yet as recently as this summer not only journalists and scholars but cabinet members appeared uncertain as to what the identity project was, whether it was legal, and who controlled it.  I want today to offer what partial certitudes I can and to share some questions I face.  Let me begin by summarizing my main assertion baldly. India is now a database[Whether it makes sense to say that it has been a “database” in the past I would leave open for now.] For this nation-cum-database governance is being redefined as an “technocratic” operation that has been termed de-duplication.  If we are to think about politics and economics in the age of the nation as database, we might attempt to understand both what may be entailed by the nation’s de-duplication, its reduction to a population of singularities, of ones, and, in contrast, what form, what thing, or what practice duplication of the one entails

For duplication is a problem. The architect of the dominant version of the current expansion of identity, Nandan Nilekani the former CEO of the outsourcing giant Infosys, argues compellingly that India is plagued by leakage and inefficiency that dooms it to stagnation, illiteracy, and impoverishment and in effect keeps it, unlike China, out of history. This is the old Hegelian sickness from which China has apparently broken free. But India is awash in duplicates, precisely the symptomatology Hegel offered in theAesthetics in his claim that for the Hindus spirit or divinity, being radically separated from nature, is indeterminate and can only take determinate form through a sensuous rejoining with nature: but a rejoining that must mark the primary ontological division between nature and spirit by exaggerating nature.

Read more here and follow the blog http://followuidai.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/the-big-one/

 

The coast isn’t clear- Clash of Cultures #Mangalore #Moralpolicing #VAW


 

VU George, 61, remembers the precise day he arrived in Mangalore from Kochi as a nervous teenager: June 6, 1970. “It was raining heavily,” says the publisher and editor of Mangalore Today, a 17-year-old local monthly magazine. His elder brother, an engineer working in Mangalore, didn’t turn up at the station as he’d promised.

The platform cleared out and George, who knew only Malayalam and some broken English, stood there alone. A woman in her mid-40s approached him and asked him where he wanted to go. He showed her a piece of paper with his brother’s address. Even though it was out of the way, she dropped him off. “I decided to stay in Mangalore forever,” says George. “It was like heaven.”

He emphasises the word ‘was’.

For years, Mangalore has enjoyed the reputation of being an idyllic student town, with a history of religious tolerance and a balance of Indian and European influences, the latter remnants of Portuguese colonisation between 1526 and 1640. An educational hub known for its engineering and medical institutions, it has a literacy rate of 94.03%, according to the 2011 census. The city’s colleges and IT companies, such as Infosys, attract youngsters from all over the country.

“Eight years ago, boys and girls could be seen sitting together in and around parked cars on New Year’s Eve till 3 am,” says Joy Lasrado, 27, a management graduate. “No one bothered us.” The city shuts down by 9 pm, but its thriving though small nightlife — mostly pubs playing rock and electronic music — goes on till midnight.

Over the past five years, roughly coinciding with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coming to power in Karnataka, this atmosphere has rapidly changed, say locals.

In 2009, activists of Sri Ram Sene, a right-wing Hindu group, attacked women in a pub. A week ago, activists claiming to represent a similar organisation, the Hindu Jagarana Vedike, attacked youngsters partying at a resort just outside the city.

This incident has inflamed the city, revealing a growing tension between right-wing Hindu groups and a multicultural Westernised youth. Pressured by public outrage, on Sunday, a day after the incident, the police filed an FIR against 28 people, including Naveen Soorinje, the journalist who shot the horrifying video, and have so far made 23 arrests. On Monday, the All College Students Union of Mangalore University called for a college bandh, protesting against the incident. On Wednesday, C Manjula, chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Women, blamed the police for inaction against illegal homestays running without proper licences, such as the one in which the incident took place. She also suggested that women obtain police permission before attending such parties.

The Vedike denies it planned the attack, but admits that some of its members were involved. “On the pretext of parties, girls are lured to homestays, where illegal activities take place,” says Satyajit Surathkal, convenor of Vedike in the south. “Eight boys and five girls, all between the ages of 18 and 22, partied with alcohol in a bungalow with three bedrooms. What do you think is going to happen? Do I need to spell it out?”

The police say they found no drugs on the premises and that all the youngsters were of the state’s legal drinking age, 18. Two of the victims, Gurudath Kamath, a 24-year-old event organiser, and Vijay Kumar, a 23-year-old DJ, have come forward and spoken about their ordeal, but the young women are unwilling to file any FI Rs.

They did not answer their mobile phones when HT called them. “We have been trying to get them to speak about the incident openly, but they’re too scared,” says Kamath. “We were doing nothing wrong or illegal. If they register complaints, we will have a stronger case.”

Clash of cultures
Since the BJP came into power in the state in 2008, Hindutva activists have been stirring up trouble in many ways, says Mangalore Today’s George.

“Mangalore is a hardcore RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) place,” he says. “Not a leaf flies in this town without its knowledge.”

Besides the attacks on youngsters, some celebrate the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, December 6, as Vijayotsava, on Car Street in the heart of the city by making inflammatory speeches, and the police don’t do anything, he says. “They impose a section 144 order (prohibiting public gatherings) across the city. Are these programmes not a violation of this?” he asks.

Subhas Chandra, assistant commissioner of police, denies that such events take place. “We clamp down on pujas and other events being held on December 6,” he said.

Students at St Agnes, a reputable girls’ college, say they are regularly stared at and even threatened by Hindutva activists, who regularly warn them against hanging out with boys of other faiths.

TR Jagannath, assistant commissioner of police, Mangalore (south), says extremist elements from both Hindu and Muslim communities cause problems. “This period, between Ramzan and Dussehra, tends to be very volatile,” he says.

But there appears to be a growing mistrust of the police. On Monday, when the students of St Agnes attempted to protest against Saturday’s incident, the police took videos of the girls who were protesting, said several students, who wished to remain anonymous. “A senior police official threatened to present the video in court as evidence of us flouting a curfew ,” said one student. Asked Sister Prem D’Souza, principal of St Agnes College: “Are we supposed to ask the police for protection or are we supposed to fear them?”

The police deny the students’ allegations. “The videos were being taken by the media,” said Subhas Chandra, assistant commissioner of police. “We were merely telling the students to stay within the college premises and to not come out, because we had imposed a curfew. They were within their rights to protest within the premises, not outside.”

The police had imposed a curfew in certain parts of the city on Sunday, which they lifted only on Thursday evening.

For their part, Mangalore’s youngsters are fed up with rising moral policing. After the latest incident, the youth, particularly the women, say they feel uneasy about having a social life. “I was supposed to go for a friend’s farewell party this week, but we’ve cancelled it,” says Liane Noronha, a 21-year-old college student.

Sister D’Souza says that, over the past week, she has been receiving several calls from worried parents when their daughters don’t return home within an hour of classes ending.

“It used to be a lovely place for young people,” says George. “I will continue to stay here, but I don’t blame today’s youth for wanting to leave.”

 

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