Infosys chairman causes controversy over national anthem

Instrumental version played at company when PM visits

A court in Bangalore, India, has ordered the registration of a criminal case against NR Narayana Murthy, chairman and co-founder of Indian outsourcer Infosys.

The decision by the court follows a private complaint by a regional lawyers’ association. The group alleges that Murthy showed disrespect to India’s national anthem during a visit in April by India’s President, APJ Abdul Kalam, to an Infosys campus in Mysore near Bangalore.

A summons returnable on June 21 was issued to Murthy, and a criminal case has been registered under the country’s Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.

Murthy ran into controversy during President Kalam’s visit when the company played an instrumental version of the Indian national anthem rather than the usual version with lyrics. When asked why by local reporters, Murthy reportedly said that singing the national anthem would have ‘’embarrassed’’ company employees of foreign origin.

Local politicians in Karnataka criticised Murthy for his actions. He later said that if his comments had hurt anybody’s sentiments, he apologised.

Murthy’s comments on social and economic issues have often been controversial. Regarded as the poster boy of the booming outsourcing business in India, Murthy is also seen as the key figure of a new elite created by the Indian outsourcing industry.

The move by this elite to try to influence public policy has met with resentment from various sections of society, who hold that the elite is out of touch with India’s social and economic problems, including rural poverty.

Murthy, who denies an interest in entering politics, has been cited by a local TV channel as being favoured by many to be India’s next president.

Infosys declined to comment on the court order.

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Tags managementinfosysindian national anthem

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