There must be some wider meaning of Panchjanya article on Infosys than only to condemn and attack the firm reflecting comments on social media platforms stretching them to the firm deliberately not fixing the glitches with an ulterior anti-national motive of destabilizing Indian economy. The article must not be mirroring just a crazy and sensational idea out of some stray irrational and eccentric thought. Panachjanya remains one of the oldest well-meaning journals of the country with deeply aligned, affiliated and associated ideological and political manifesto and, therefore, going with such a vicious attack on one of the most preferred service providers of the current dispensation, especially at a time when the firm is struggling to catch up with the most sensitive assignment of the govt, speaks of varied dimensions and facets involved in the issue.
Panchjanya was conceived, nourished, directed and run by Pt Dindayal Upadhyaya and though he never became the editor of the journal he remained the real ultimate guardian and the mentor of successive editors till his untimely death in 1968. Panchjanya still continues to progress his thoughts and cherish his scared memory – Panchjanya itself recalled its glorified history in one of its special editions. It is everybody’s knowledge what Pandit Dindayal Upadhyaya meant to RSS. Panachjanya, since its birth, has been known to be the journal from, for and by RSS and it has been ever proud of that identity even on facing the wrath of govts many times solely and mainly due to its explicit alignment with RSS.
Therefore, it looked somewhat awkward when all India publicity chief of RSS, Sunil Ambedkar, distancing himself from the article ‘Sakh aur Aghat’ about Infosys in the journal and went on to declare that Panchjanya was ‘not the mouthpiece of RSS’. Many in RSS appear to have felt that the statement of Ambedkar went too far and was somewhat uncalled for. A routine assertion that the opinion did not represent the views of either RSS or of the Panchjanya would have sufficed, on the face of Ambedkar’s echoing the IT giant’s ‘seminal contribution in progress of the country’.
Only few days later, RSS joint general secretary, Manmohan Vaidya, with many RSS and BJP leaders present on the occasion of inauguration of the journal’s new office in Delhi, praised Panchjanya as being herald of Dharmyudha between the good and the evil. ‘Anti-national forces are being weakened slowly’….’one will have to shoot arrows at those not with dharma. In the end, dharma will be victorious’. This amply shows how RSS strongly stands by Panchjanya -notwithstanding Ambedkar’s claims and clarifications – and its crusade of dharmyudh.
The journal editor Hitesh Shankar asserted, ‘Panchjanya stands firm with its report. If Infosys has objections, it should present its side…’. He further asserted that the report was not related to RSS, it was about Infosys. It was a matter of facts and ‘facts relating to the incompetence of the company’. He went on to suggest that Infosys may wish to request further investigation on the allegations made out in the article.
The spirit of the above two statements – of RSS joint general secretary and the Editor, Panchjanya – indicate quite clearly that RSS inter alia owned the contents of article.
BJP played down the issue and rather preferred not to indulge into it. The spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agarwal observed that Infosys was a ‘reputed firm in India and well-respected globally and that ‘we believe them’. No reaction or reference to the article! Top leaders of the party did not join the issue at all though it appeared that this created some unease and discomfort. The ruling party felt it better to ignore and leave the issue on its own.
Indian industry at large and its various platforms have maintained a conspicuous studied silence and looked the other way contrary to general belief that the industry would come forward and at least put up a mild but firm stand in defense of the firm. This must not have been for the only reason of Panachjanya being associated with the ruling dispensation. The industry has the record of speaking its mind in frank terms against govt policies and bureaucratic bottlenecks. There are seemingly other implicit reasons for the industry to leave Infosys alone to face the heat.
In fact, back in 2015, when talks of Digital India was picking up, Infosys co-founder Narayan Murthy himself talked about the low project costs, delayed payments, changing requirements mid-term, not providing enough time and to some extent even corruption as the handicaps of going with govt projects. He also claimed that there was not a single project where ‘the company has not lost money’ and went on to add that the same was true for other companies too working for the govt projects. He expected the govt of India to adopt international clauses and practices to encourage large companies work with them.
But those were initial days of NDA govt’s Digital India moto. Infosys started getting good number of govt projects and many in the industry began to feel that the firm was becoming a preferred govt service provider. Infosys was seen working with multiple projects in financial inclusiveness, health care, utilities, posts and financial services. Grapevine was becoming ripe of Infosys – Nandan Nilekani in particular – having fine rapport with NDA govt machinery. Soon there were also allegations of few senior govt official being hand in gloves with Infosys.
Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), which was awarded to Infosys at 1320 Crores, went live in July 2017 and faced serious glitches and errors and the govt formulated group of ministers had to keep the firm chasing for the solutions for months together. While the serious issues were still going on Infosys was awarded rebuilding and maintenance of next-gen IT portal at 4242 Crores. There were questions raised within the IT industry over govt decision to award this project to Infosys on the face of its dismal record of executing GSTN and ministry of corporate affairs projects.
Thus, when the new IT portal came live in early June this year and started facing glitches with flow of complaints making the finance ministry having series of meetings with Infosys culminating the latest meet between finance minister and Infosys Chief, each of the dissatisfied forces, for different and varied reasons – which by now were spread beyond the industry within RSS and BJP too – became unitedly aligned not only against Infosys but a section of NDA govt machinery too.
It should also be worth-noting that during these times only a former Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, DP Kar, who was Odisha state Vishwa Hindu Parishad president too, wrote a detailed six-page letter to Prime Minister ordering probe against former revenue secretary AB Pandey for his alleged involvement with Infosys dubiously granting big tenders in violation of established procedures. It was also alleged that Pandey and his wife were share-holders of Infosys and huge embezzlement was made while granting projects to the firm.
The Panchjanya article, therefore, speaks too many things about too many people having too many contexts and directions. Many forces appear to be at work in favor of their specific ambitions and opportunities with inherent vicious corporate and political rivalries. The article might very well be aimed at the roots of many people and many entities including some threads very well going into ruling dispensation as well.
Narrative of Dharmayudh, therefore, signifies a complex nature of battle, as the Mahabharata was! Allegations of anti-national overtures are clearly aimed at creating tremble and shiver amid already deep public discontent among the members of public. IT portal is much more vulnerable to general public than that of GSTN portal and thus has the huge inflammatory potential.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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