The supermarket author turned columnist Chetan Bhagat has hit Infosys where it hurts most by calling the Sikkapatte Important Company of Karnataka a “bodyshopping” company, in response to N.R. Narayana Murthy‘s comments on the quality of engineers being churned out by the IITs.
“It is ironic when someone who runs a body shopping company and calls it hi-tech, makes sweeping comments on the quality of IIT students,” Bhagat wrote on his Twitter account.
Narayana Murthy, a graduate from India’s first private engineering college, the National Institute of Engineering (NIE), Mysore, had said earlier that 75% of modern BEs were unemployable. Others like Tata Steel boss B.Muthuraman and enviroment minister Jairam Ramesh have made similar comments on IITs before to little damage.
But it is Bhagat’s blanket branding of Infosys, which has assiduously cultivated its image as an emblem of hi-tech India, as a bodyshopping company—id est putting cheap Indian bums on seats for crackling American dollars by twisting visa rules—with all its attendant stigma that will surely rankle.
So, is Infosys what Chetan Bhagat says it is or is it unfair to the contributions of Murthy and Infosys? If Infosys is a body shopper, where does that leave other Indian IT companies? Is it OK if Infosys is a body shopping company, considering the difference is has made to the lives of thousands of young Indians and their families?
Is Chetan Bhagat right in labelling Infosys a “body shopping company”, or will Infosys be well within its rights to get its awesome legal and PR machinery whirring into action?
Also read: Why Tata Steel (and others) won’t recruit IITians
Would India be heaven if all of us went to IIT?
To: Nandan Nilekani. From: American senators
‘Indian IT doesn’t benefit its own people’
If IT takes away Bangalore’s values, burn IT
The episode of the Infosys Visa scandal has probably left a permanent scar for the Co. Often re-opened in situations like this. There is an element of truth in the “body-shopping” claim – as every IT Co. is into it in overt or covert ways.
But to snub Infy as “nothing” more than a body shopping Co. is overly generalizing and an insult which will certainly see some kind of strong response from the IT Bell Weather.
Sikkapatte famous murthy angadi is back on churumuri after a long time.
Call center level author CB can call anything but Infy has it’s own place in the hearts of Indians. May be his twitter is destined to some five point agenda. He is planning to be famous by talking nonsense and I am afraid media gives him the space to do that.
IT industry has body shopping ( though always referred with merry names) but wtf that CB’s problem is? May be his books have not got a great fan following in IT sector. The problem he has is he sells vada-pav at roadside and aspires it to be seen as five star hotel. A joker of third degree can talk any nonsense, who cares?
Mr. Murthy’s comment (coming from him), was amusing to say the least.
While I totally acknowledge the difference Infy has made to the lives of thousands of BE grads and their families, I still remember the entry method employed by Infy to recruit fresh BEs, almost ten years ago (I don’t know what is the current method of freshers’ recruitment now). One would be asked to solve a list of puzzles, and if he cracks the list – he is absorbed by the company.
What is interesting is, the puzzles were customarily picked up from a few puzzle books. What one had to do to crack the exam was, to mug the questions and the answers in the puzzle. He can then go and reproduce it in the exam hall. And boom! He’s into Infy.
1. Infosys is a body shop, that much is true. And it has a poor work culture to boot.
2. Lots of other Indian IT companies are body shops, but the extent differs. And how about speaking of IT companies in India, instead of Indian IT companies? iFlex solutions, now called Oracle financial services is not a body shop. Neither is Oracle itself, nor is SAP, Yahoo, GE, and so on.
3. Even if Infosys is a body shop, which it is – so what? How the fuck is that such a bad thing? As you say, it has made a difference to hundreds of thousands of Indian families. Body shops like Infy have their place in the ecosystem. They have their niche in cost-differential outsourcing, and they’re doing well creating wealth. Let them be.
[offtopic]: I was told that BMSCE Bangalore was the first private engineering college in Karnataka? Can you confirm if NIE is indeed the first Engg college?
Well, so what?
It’s just the software hierarchy.
S/w dev in prod company > S/w test in prod company > contractor there >…> PM in services company > dev in infy > test in infy
The way you feel important is when there are people below you in some pyramid. And there’ll be someone below for the infy guy to look down upon too in some hierarchy.
As for Chethan Bhagat, that’s a whole different topic for another day.
most comments are placed with parochial interests in mind. if we do not stop this we regress.
in ABSOLUTE terms it is a body shop. wether cb says it or not.
there is a lot of fog around infosys. if things clear up they will be in deep trouble.
there is a lot to agree with vinay ; by staying in people have improved their family standards financially.
but then again…….
If Infosys is a body shop, then the most conspicous body in that shop is that of Saint Narayan Murthy.
Saint Narayan Murthy has a the ego of a jumbo jet and he thinks that he is holiest saint in india and he has the answers to each and every question.
Just because he has made a few billions, he thinks that he is God and he has the right to poke his finger into everyone’s business.
In a country like India, where it is not possible to open a small hawker’s outlet without paying a bribe, how has Saint Narayan Murty become a billionaire! Has he never paid any bribes, has he never cut any corners.
So what right does he have to portray himself as an infallible saint. I am completely put of by his sanctimonious and cliched ridden way of speaking.
I think Chetan Bhagat has did a good thing by showing this so-called “Billionaire Saint” his place. Hats of to Chetan.
Narayana Murthy yet again.
Please give this guy something substantial to do.
while people justify bodyshops for creating wealth we need to question ourselves –
is this the way wealth has to be created? –
are we so mentally deteriorated?
by becoming tax evaders in foreign countries , by involving in scandals , by looting nature ?
the other day i was listening to Sadananda Gowda on how he was trying to talk to court and central govt in restoring mining which would create employment to lakhs of people. There was not even a iota of concern for degraded environment in him.
He wants to save Reddy who is still in BJP on one hand and wants to restore employment in mines by providing more leases!!! Till now except Santosh Hegde none of our people have spoken strongly on stopping mining in karnataka .
Why don’t we get back to oldest profession of the world. Wouldn’t that be more rewarding than to hear from people like Chethan Bhagat.
CB is using bad language. Which is to say his terminology is erroneous. Infy does not supply stand-alone programmers (“bodies”) to the client, which is what a body-shopping company does.
Infy takes on reasonably big chunks of work (“projects”) from the client, which it then completes using internal teams staffed entirely by Infy employees. This is called out-sourcing, not body-shopping.
CB could have said that Infy’s projects are typically low-tech, and the intellectual property generated by the projects belongs entirely to the client. So the millions of hours of coding done by Infy programmers have not added much intellectual property to Infy itself. The value-add is just the money earned for each project completed. But hey, the money is good!
Creating products is a different ball-game – high-risk, high-return, Indian IT Biggies including Infy have tried, but not succeeded in creating any internationally successful products. Having burnt their fingers, they wisely stick to projects, where a minimum level of income is assured. Aint no shame in that.
Just because Infy is a body shop, NRN shouldn’t have an opinion on the IITs? What do the two have to do with each other?
Every tech company does body shopping ( Company A sends their employee as a contractor to another company B on a short term basis) like Infy. Infy also takes on outsourcing projects that it delivers End-to-End outsourced projects which is not body shopping.
The point of NRN is still correct: People go to tution for IITs and their preparations is narrowed. This is just like how Infy hires folks by making them solve puzzles; people can memorize similar puzzles and solve them.
But from what I have heard is that Infy has a decent training program for college graduates, based on which some filtering is done as to who works on what projects, and sometimes even who gets fired. But in case of IIT once you are in, you are in. All you have to do is score minimum passing marks and you are done !
And how can Indian companies do more Innovation (as opposed to just outsourced work) without good quality students from our Premier Engineering Institutes? And assuming these students would want to work for our Indian IT companies?
Can anybody give me one example of a great contribution of Infosys to computer science? Something which has been either a fundamental contribution to computer science or something which has just changed the way society (in a technological sense):
— like the Internet
— like deep blue by IBM
— jeopardy by IBM
— fastest supercomputers by IBM
— like search revolution by google
— OS revolution by microsoft (despite all the bugs)
agrred, Infy is not into products, but IBM is also into services (mostly) but that doesn’t stop them from having their research centers (like TJ Watson, almaden etc.) and innvoate.
What has Infy done to advance computer science? Does Infy have at least one PhD from Stanford, Berkeley, CMU or MIT? Infy, at best, it hires some decent undergrads and spoils their innovation abilities. In five years, they will be just after “on site” opportunities doing pretty mundane work for a bank or for an insurance company.
In my opinion. After ten years, the same undergrads would apply for MBA since by that time usually they realize that they are headed nowhere.
Somehow the assumption in the Indian media and among common Indians is that NRN and his company are impeccable in every aspect. Time to get that impression corrected.
Having said that, for 1980s India, perhaps Infosys achievement is commendable. However, rather than becoming a global innovator, Infy, after nearly 30 years of existence has just become a body shop!
I think making a blanket statement about students from IITs or any other institution without clearly specifying a context or evaluation criteria, would be unfair. It might have been better if NRN or Ramesh before him had been more specific or avoided their comments altogether. Of course they are entitled to their opinions. NRN’s observations about the dependence on coaching classes may hold some value but that is not exactly the fault of students.
Coming to the point that CB has raised, a vast majority of Indian software companies are known to provide IT services. In their initial years and even now in some cases, these services may have taken the form of body shopping. There is nothing to be apologetic about. This is a burden that many Indian companies have had to bear not just in the software world but also in other areas.
In the past, many companies in the mechanical, auto and electrical/ electronic industries have had to fight the tag of being copy cats or using screw driver technology, meaning that they either reverse engineered products or just assembled kits that they got from partner companies abroad. While some of the criticism was true, a lot of those companies were caught between staying relevant in the present day or trying to develop something for the future. In a relatively poor country like India, work in any form was welcome. There was no point being choosy. With time many of the companies in those sectors have evolved and with the world becoming a smaller place, some of the questions raised earlier are not very relevant.
Similarly, many software companies might have resorted to body shopping to begin with but are now maturing and trying to move up the value chain in adding more value instead of merely providing services.
The real issue is not about Infosys, it is about NRN always trying to be in the limelight even after ‘several retirements’.
His PR hungry personality, preachy ‘values’, comments such as ‘we the south Indian Brahmins at Infosys’, his hidden agenda to be the president of India, and our Brahmin dominated media always trying to project as if he is the greatest contemporary Indian.Very irritating.
Let us send NRN to Himalayas. Retire him permannently.
What is the contribution of Accenture to computer science? What is the contribution of Perot Systems? Tell me, out of the thousands and thousands of IT companies worldwide, how many have made contributions to computer science?
Infosys is a cost-arbitrage based labour shop – fine, so what the hell! That is their niche, they do well in their cost-differential outsourcing work, let them be.
Everything has its place in the world of IT. The service companies that do labour shop work also have their place in the IT ecosystem.
Wonder why no one moans about Accenture or Perot Systems the way they do about Infy. Huh.
I hope you are right.
Not only Infosys..every IT company of India are bodyshoppers a.k.a software coolies. These companies send people to US on L1/H1B visas for cheapest salary and they take american jobs. It doesn’t stop there, in american workplace they create a Indian bazaar environment (shouting/fighting) like fish market. They don’t mingle with americans at all. Telugus (known as Gultis) form their own club and Tamils (known as Sambar) also form their own club. Overall Indian IT companies take american jobs and bring bad culture to US work places. US should ban H1B/L1 visas once and for all!
Not that only IIT engineers are great or all IIT engineers are great, but Chetan Bhagat has to be complimented for unmasking Narayanamurthy who alongwith his Wipro and TCS body-shopping accomplices has been only playing second-to-nth fiddle to Microsoft in particular and USA in general. Leading American universities are what they are because of brilliant Asian students. There are so many bogus American universities minting money at the cost of unsuspecting students. American students are on the average of poor standard as rued by their President himself. But for Narayanamurthy they are all great. He is an example of the Kannada proverb which describes what an idle capenter will do to keep himself a little busy. The contribution of these three body-shopping Companies to software/computer systems development and innovation is zero. Through bought-out good relations with politicians/bureaucrats & bought-out tax concessions they have been minting disproportionate money at the cost of the common man. Not satisfied with that, they have been actively sabotaging standardisation in the software/computer systems area, and sabotaging development and deployment of Open Source software/computer systems in India-all on behalf of Microsoft and other Proprietary sharks. IITs will be able to keep abreast or ahead of their counterparts in the developed world provided politicians and the Government do not interfere. But the body shoppers are the traitors who have on several occasions stated that they will consider shifting many of their activities to China if the Government does not allow them to body-shop and mint money. They have to be hammered down first by the Government. Even if they close down there are enough geniuses in India to quickly make-up for it and gallop ahead with world-class software and innovations.
thank you div and kris.
i do not know why nm intrudes into everything he is incompetant at.
the man exudes delusions of his own grand dandy personality.
he has a huge number a really huge numbers of morons who beleive he speaks the “gospel truth”.
though it would be incorrect on my part, i strongly suggest he use his own resources of which he has more than enough and start training institutions which he feels suit his perceived requirements.
after prathiba i will not groan if they really reach rock bottom and make nm presy.
now let the cyclone in churumuri.
Please stop inviting the ex-chairman of the second biggest Indian IT company NRN to give these preachy, cliche-ridden speeches.
Or even if he gets invited, please somebody ask him despite all his bragging about why it is only the SECOND biggest Indian IT company and why the gap is widening between them and TCS ?
And if he continues to brag, then ask him the number of patents filed by Infosys and a comparison with IBM (or Accenture) ?
And ask him if he remembers the infamous 2003 all-hands session in the Infosys campus where he was heckled by the employees after his yet-another cliched speech ?
Bring bad culture to US Work places….hehehe
Where r u from? what are you advocating? Ban ’em for what?for cheap labor?Go get a life!
Your post ends with loads of question marks. I’d wish for you take a side on the debate.
Agree with Goldstar that the NRN speeches are losing their sheen. Not like before, where fawning droves used to latch on to every word of NRN as though it is straight from God.
Brahma might be an NRI, or an ABCD, who is gnashing his teeth about the way jobs are being taken by Indians. He might be feeling real scared that he might have to come back to India, and join his “turd world” compatriots and he’s releasing the frustration here.
Please get NRN to defend his comment on IITs; also ask him to explain the jibe/truth that Infosys is indeed a bodyshop!
True, most Indian or other multi-national companies have made no great breakthroughs either. But the point is, those companies don’t get the same attention as NRN or as Infy. They don’t pretend that they are messiahs with an opinion about everything. At least our media doesn’t create a wrong impression about those companies. However, it is totally different in the case of Infy. It is projected as the most hi tech company in the world and NRN is projected as if he is a research scientist. That is the portrayal of Infy and NRN by Indian media and that is pretty much the impression of common people in India.
I know actual instances when somebody got a job in Microsoft, their neighbors, relatives asking him “why all those unknown companies? Didn’t you get into Narayana Murthy’s Infosys?”!!!
Even I have had that experience of being asked “howcome I didn’t get in Infosys”. The truth is that I got an offer from Infy, but refused because other companies were paying much better. But god forbid – if I dare to say this truth, people will snigger and call me a liar behind my back. :D Even auto drivers have asked me why I don’t try for Infosys.
The fault lies with our media. Reporters have no idea of things, and concoct bullshit to fill in details which they lack knowledge of. As a result, Infy has too much mindshare in India, especially in Bangalore-Mysore.
But then, one can hardly blame NRN and Infy for taking advantage of the mindshare that they have. Any businessman would have done the same. And after all, their contribution in terms of employment and brand building has been immense.
the funny thing here is NRN is right about IITs.. Just that Chetan is more right about Infosys.. Thank god, somebody had the gall to shred the self-anointed PR-driven cloak of statesmanship from the paid-pr-proclaimed father of Indian IT.
Infy copied the TCS created model and did a damn good job of it. Never did it ever publicly credit the actual father of the IT services model (i.e. FC Kohli of TCS).
Infy has done amazingly well for itself & its many stakeholders. No way does that thrust any credibility on NRN to comment on something called innovation. TCS at least does not make tall claims to it.
Infy (and NRN) is just being publicly disrobed of its pr-driven claims of technological advancements, innovations etc.. High time it admitted that its nothing but a well performing “contractor of cheap labour” to maintain antiquated systems of others.
ಕುಂಬಳಕಾಯಿ ಕಳ್ಳ ಅಂದರೆ ಹೆಗಲು ಮುಟ್ಟು ನೋಡಿದನಂತೆ ! CB’s babble exemplifies that !
@maisuru – hah hah!! Well said, sir. I second you :D
Is it of any coincidence that exactly after a few days of attempting this silly rebuke on Infosys & NRN, Chetan Bhagat has released his yet another concotion called Revolution 2020….Whatta Coincidence….OOOps…Controversy has never failed to sell in India….
1. While blaming coaching classes for the decline in quality of IIT entrants, Mr. NR Narayana Murthy omitted to tell his audience that he himself has private investment in the lucrative IIT test preparation business.
Catamaran, Mr. Murthy’s private equity firm, has invested Rs 2.5 crore in ACE, a Banglore–based test preparation firm that offers training for the IITJEE, AIEEE, PMPD, CBSE-11 & 12, CET, Foundation IIT and NTSE.
2. Catamaran has made large investments in Manipal Universal Learning. The Media, however, has not informed the public that such an investment amounts to a private equity firm finding a back-door entry into education. The law of the land does not allow PE investments in education and educational institutions should only be run by non-profit trusts and societies.
PE investors’ employ a ‘two tier’ ruse to get a back-door entry into educational institutions. They set up a private, for-profit company and a non-profit trust or society. The former extracts private profits from the trust/society, which runs the educational institution, in a manner that invariably results in breaking of laws governing non-profit trusts/societies and income tax, and regulations governing educational institutions, such as charging of fees.
3. Mr. Murthy’s PE firm has invested in Wellspring, a private healthcare provider, and yet he has assumed the chairmanship of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), a public-private partnership that influences the government policy on healthcare and medical education. PHFI’s public health schools are unrecognised and unaccredited and yet have been receiving hundreds of crores of rupees in grants and free parcels of land from the central and state governments.
The curious case of ‘Murthy Angadi’ gets murkier everyday
What is so bad about being a “body shop”? Is NRN going around telling people that Infy is the world’s greatest product company? What counts is that they are a profitable business creating value for their customers.
If you don’t like it, don’t buy their shares, don’t work there – there are plenty of things you can do. But please shut up about how they are somehow a lesser business entity because of what they do.
What do you call a company which sells a body at USD 150 /Hour, then pays the employee about 40/hr. Is it not a body shop ?
The profits of Infosys are directly proportional to the number of employees multiplied by the rate card minus the salary of the employees.
This is a crude way of depicting a body shop, but Chetan has been bold enough to bowl Infosys out of its day dream.
It can never ever be know for world wide recognition for its products.
The bulk chunk of the profits of course goes to its founders, who apparently claim that hey earn less than their employees. However the truth is that they keep doling out dividends, which forms crores of Rupees. So why do they require a salary at all. They are in touch with the willy nilly of the Govt to keep dividend free of tax.
Thanks to the wonderland of Hypocricy Infosys……Built by values, Driven by Intellect
Praveen: So, if the company paid USD150/hr to the empoloyee it won’t be a body shop?
Here is the reality – Almost any services company is a body shop. It holds good for Accenture too. It holds good for a law firm that bills by the hour. Basically they all provide human labor hours at a pre-fixed hourly price.
Agreed. The labor is a bit skilled, but the definition of bodyshop is such that what is needed is number of man hours. Not necessarily a particular person or his expertise. And most projects are sold on the basis of price and process.
This in no way negates the business model or the prestige of a bodyshop. It is a legitimate business and a well paying one. So, I don’t understand why one should consider it derogatory.
I am not a techie, but I know scores of techies who refuse to leave Infy because it is such a comfortable place to be.In fact, leaving Infy is compared to taking risks in life!! The work culture and environment makes a lot of people stay for a long time. So whether it is a body shop or not, it definitely is one of the few companies in India that has managed to create comfort zones for many of its employees.
What NRN says about current IIT crop is true – they join in the hope of greater things in life than any interest in engineering. And this is alarming.
What Chetan Bhagat says about Infy is true to an extent but there is nothing derogatory or alarming about that.
Really? That’s surprising.
I am in this field, and most Infy people I know, don’t like the work culture at all. All the more so, for people who switch to Infy from consulting backgrounds, or even from companies like IBM/Accenture (which have a slightly better work environment as far as service companies are concerned).
NRN, Premji or whoever the IT heads for the matter, they have given jobs to lacks of Indian people and they run and manage a huge industry. If they speak with some concern then it should not be taken in a wrong way. Chetan a so called revolutionary IIT’an is just another ‘Kailagadavanu’ who is none other than the younger version of our U.R Ananthu, Girish karnadu type of worms who are fond of publicity.
Think of our middle class and lower middle class general category people who are deprived of jobs because of sick quota system in our country. Its NRN, Premji and many more who came to the rescue of these sects. Forget whether we are doing R&D or just copy-paste in these industry but our dependent families are not starving.
agree with dhyan and RM here.
as RM says they have built comfort zones. In Bangalore campus the pathway which runs from central Gym/kamat cafeteria towards the BPO building is normally is smoking zone where scantily clad sexy BPO ladies do a lot of dealings with weapons of male destruction.
the company harasses most workers but as said it has two kinds – one which is hungry and fearful for food
and the other who faultily placed their foot to improve IT sector just to find its ethics are soldout to nasdaq and usury earnings.
as dhyan says its world’s oldest profession , who else than a God’s own religion follower, can run it.
What’s with you guys? Isn’t money the God in our chosen way of capitalism? We got to earn in a legal way and spend. That’s the bottom line. How does it matter whether Infy is sweat shop or a body shop as long as it makes money and pays its employees?
Is there a higher aim in life? What’s it? and why it is so?
This is completely different from the subject being debated.
Narayana Murty and his son Rohan Murthy are funding a project which aims at translating the Indian classical works to English. This is named as Murty Classical Library of India. So far, so good.
But of the first six classical books taken up for translating, not a single one is from the rich literary history of Kannada. Instead the books are Kamba Ramayana from Tamil, Abul Fazal’s Akbarnama, Punjabi Sufi poems, works of Waris Shah ( urdu??), Mangal Kaya, Bengali hindu religious texts and Therigatha in Pali.
Question is, are there no books worthy in kannada for the Murthys???
Why Kamba Ramayana? Kannada has several versions of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Are they inferior in any which way???
The foundation is also working on creating fonts in TAMIL. These will be called Murty Indic Tamil. Again no reference to Kannada.
Is this the influence of NRN’s sose??? A tamilian??
Infosys (and other similar Co’s that follwed suit) has changed the life of thousands of people – not only that of employees but ordinary people living in places where they have a significant presence.
People have forgotten how difficult it used to be even for an engineering graduate to get a job say 15 – 20 years back before the IT boom.
It’s betetr that Chetan Bhagat sticks to fiction – he doesn’t know what reality is
Even after retirement he comes on tv almost every week on a new business channel to give his gyan. This is too much. He should be called Narayana Cliche Murthy. He is very predictable. His son says that he can give his fathers speech as he knows exactly what he is going to say.
NRN please show some restraint and don’t come on tv’s and bore the hell out of me.
infosys and all came to market, owing to PVNJI’s vision provided jobs to so many UPPER CLASS youth, who at the time were burning themselves on streets due to reservations policy..and now at least, india can boast of one industry which they are providing services as contractors…though it would take time to get india IT enabled, but at least, start has happened
Infosys sucks. The employees of this crappy company are absolute trash and cannot get a job anywhere else. So they end up being there – play politics, reduce the work culture to pitiable levels, and get promoted to management positions to screw more employees under them. Infosys is a scum just like accenture. No difference.
Another big bodyshop —— The Anti-Accenture movement launched ExposingEvilEmpire (dot) com, where you can share your experience about Accenture. Read about Accenture salaries, Accenture values, and lots of Accenture humor. Help us expose Evil Empire! Publish your Accenture horror story!
What about Infy horror stories?