Biggest. Largest. Highest. Mostest. Anywhere.

ASHVINI A. writes from Bangalore: The Bangalore edition of The Hindu has a piece today on the second unit of the Global Education Centre coming up on the Mysore campus of Infosys. And it takes your breath away: for the purpleness of the prose, and the megalomania of those articulating it.

Paragraph #1: “Independent India’s biggest structure that surpasses Rashtrapati Bhavan in size and equals it in grandeur…”

Paragraph #3: “For comparison, the floor area of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is 2 lakh square feet (as against the 9 lakh square feet of the new structure)…”

Paragraph #3: “The GEC has been designed entirely on classical style of architecture with similarities to the Colosseum of Rome, while the pillars are reflective of Parliament House…”

Paragraph #3: “…the structure reflects various ancient Greek and Roman architectural styles…”

Paragraph #4:”When completed, Infosys would have invested over Rs 1,650 crore… which is reckoned to be the largest investment ever on education at one place anywhere in India…”

Paragraph #5: “…keen to have the architectural styles of ancient Indian univerisities of Nalanda and Taxila too…”

Paragraph #6: “…the single largest residential unit anywhere in the world surpassing The Venetian at Macau…”

Paragraph #7: “…the country’s biggest automated laundry… with 175 individual washing machines.”

Paragraph #8: “…the world’s second largest synthetic tent structure… will accommodate 2,000 people.”

Going through the report, I was taken aback at a private structure being compared with the residence of the supreme commander of the armed forces—not once but thrice. Even if there is no law barring that, and even if true, I was struck by the company’s fixation with size.

Biggest. Largest. Second biggest. Most.

Anywhere.

This is good public relations, of course, and the flacks at Infosys would have broken into high fives this morning on seeing the seven-and-a-half column story, but should hacks of a seasoned newspaper like The Hindu so easily fall prey to the overdrive?

It can be argued that the kings of the knowledge economy, like N.R. Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani, at least do not go around building 27-storeyed residences for themselves like Mukesh Ambani. And what they do is it to educate people like us—and them.

But there is something decidedly offputting about Infy’s obsession with size.

Sure, size matters, especially if attracting and retaining topflight talent is proving difficult. Sure, it is a matter of pride that a company started on just a few thousand rupees has grown to this stature. Sure, this can be a major tourist attraction for Mysore (provided anybody can get in there).

But banging on and on about Rashtrapati Bhavan—and Greek, Roman and Venetian styles, and Nalanada and Taxila to boot—leaves you wondering whether those little children who will stay there for a few months will even have the time to appreciate it, enjoy it.

Or if the building, designed by Hafeez Contractor, is just about image building.

(A set of pictures circulating on the web show the fine facilities at the GEC, and everybody hard at work or sleeping, and not a single person using them at any time of day or night.) 

A friend in public relations wickedly suggests that Infosys is desperate to compare its new building with Rashtrapathi Bhavan as Narayana Murthy’s dreams of becoming President, and thus a resident of Rashtrapthi Bhavan, came crashing down after his goof-up on the National Anthem issue on the very same campus.

“Perhaps, unable to come to terms with that “historic blunder” of Murthy, this is the company’s way of making the mountain come to Murthy,” he says.

Unlikely, of course, but…

But when human resources director T.V. Mohandas Pai blasts the previous government which allotted the land for the GEC, for its “indifferent attitude towards promoting IT sector five years ago”, and praises the present government and asks for 300-400 acres in Bangalore, all in the same breath, you wonder.

Photograph: courtesy M.A. Sriram/ The Hindu

Read the full story: Infosys education centre is a grand structure

BCCI and Infosys: made for each other in Mysore

Also read: Madness, megalomania, or hard-earned fruits?