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The twice-born, middle-class Brahmin boy from Malleswaram, Bangalore has now twice fallen for the same vice: sexual misconduct withwomen at the workplace. By his sheer star-wattage and brilliance, he managed to resurrect his career after he was fired by Infosys in 2002. However, after the current sex scandal, it’s hard to see a second comeback for Phaneesh Murthy.
Popularly known as the ‘other Murthy’ at Infosys, 48-year-old Phaneesh had a meteoric career at India’s second largest IT services firm, donning many roles and credited with taking the Infosys brand global as the company’s global sales head along with company founders N R Narayana Murthy and Nandan Nilekani. Phaneesh didn’t shy away from claiming credit for taking Infosys’ US revenues from $2 million to over $700 million under his stewardship as global sales head.
In fact, in the early 2000s, the smart money was on him to become the first non-promoter CEO of Infosys. The company had begun to actively groom him and promote him publicly, making him a director of Infosys and Infosys BPO in 2000.
And he threw it all away by getting into an ill-judged relationship with his secretary Reka Maximovitch, a Bulgarian American national, who charged him with sexual harassment. Infosys was quick to give the boot to Phaneesh even as stories of his tearful meeting with his mentor Narayana Murthy did the rounds.
Phaneesh’s wife Jaya, also an IIM-A alumnus, quit the board of Infosys Foundation and the relations between the Infosys promoters and Phaneesh have stayed frozen. The company had to cough up $3 million to settle with Maximovitch out of court.
Phaneesh, the quintessential middle-class dreamboat — BTech degree from IIT- Madras, an MBA degree from IIM-Ahmedabad, and then on to a global career at a technology company — was soon plotting to resurrect his career and image, both of which he managed to do with loads of help from his wife.
Within a year, he founded Quintant Services with Jaya as his partner and backed by the GMR group, which in late 2003 was swallowed by California-headquartered iGate. Murthy was given the task of turning iGate into a globally competitive and profitable IT services provider to take on the outsourcing biggies from India and the established giants in the US.
After eight years at iGate, serving as the company’s president and CEO from 2008, Murthy’s business acumen and leadership abilities were backed by private equity major Apax Partnerswhen he made a bold bid to buy Mumbai-based IT company Patni Systems for $1.22 billion. Patni was double the size of iGate. It was a leveraged acquisition, the biggest in Indian IT, betting on Murthy’s prowess to pull faster growth in a slowing outsourcing industry. The deal was memorably described by an iGate employee as “buying a Ferrari with a credit card”.
Phaneesh, indeed, got a Ferrari from the delighted board for such a bold move. Uncharacteristically, he chose a grey-coloured Ferrari to the ubiquitous red. Known for his love of extreme sports - sky-diving, paragliding — he spoke fondly of being beaten by his son in a game of squash. He has two boys, one in college and the other in school. The Patni deal made Murthy the chief of a billion-dollar enterprise; something, he argued, that would help him win big deals.
“But that growth story didn’t play out as expected though the jury is still out on the success of the oversized acquisition,” said an investment banker who advises iGate. There’s speculation that iGate’s tepid growth, declining stock price and a huge debt pile had some of Murthy’s backers worried. The Roiz affair galvanized that discontent prompting the board, which once backed him totally, to pull the plug.
There’s more to tainted cricketer S Sreesanth’s Bangalore link than his schooling and entrepreneurial days. The two ‘escort girls’ accompanying him when Delhi police arrested him in Mumbai last week, are from Bangalore, highly placed police sources said.
“One girl is from Richards Town while the other is from Richmond Town,” the sources said. The Bangalore girls not only accompanied the Kerala-based cricketer, but also monitored his movements and passed it to their ‘bosses’, suspected to be bookies, said police sources.
Investigation revealed that bookies use technology experts to track cricket-loving girls on social networking sites and use them as ‘escort girls’” to accompany cricketers. “Escort girls are not call girls. Being hardcore cricket fans, some agree to spend time with cricketers and unknowingly land in bookies’ trap,” sources said.
Escort girls are paid handsomely and provided accommodation in hotels, sources said.
The US universities produce enough graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to meet the demand for high-skilled professionals in the country, says a study.
Contradicting the claims of some American companies that the country faces STEM shortage, the study by Washington-basedEconomic Policy Institute (EPI) said there are more domestic graduates in these fields than the market can accommodate.
“The debate over guest worker programmes is largely based on anecdotal evidence and testimonials from employers, rather than solid evidence,” said its key author Hal Salzman of the Rutgers University.
“Our examination shows that the STEM shortage in the United Statesis largely overblown. Guest worker programmes are in need of reform, but any changes should make sure that guest workers are not lower-paid substitutes for domestic workers,” Salzman said.
According to the report, despite a steady supply of US STEM graduates, guest workers make up a large and growing portion of the workforce, specifically in information technology occupations and industries.
“IT employers look to guest worker programmes as a source of labour that is plentiful even at wages that appear to be too low to attract large numbers of the best and brightest domestic students,” EPI said in a statement.
The flow of US students (citizens and permanent residents) into STEM fields has been strong over the past decade, and the number of US graduates with STEM majors appears to be responsive to changes in employment levels and wages, it said.
For every two students that US colleges graduate with STEM degrees, only one is hired into a STEM job, the report said.
In computer and information science and in engineering, US colleges graduate 50 per cent more students than are hired into those fields each year; of the computer science graduates not entering the IT workforce, 32 per cent say it is because IT jobs are unavailable, and 53 per cent say they found better job opportunities outside of IT occupations.
These responses suggest that the supply of graduates is substantially larger than the demand for them in industry, EPI said in its report.
Big industrial projects are often blamed for taking land, water and labour away from agriculture, but in Gujarat, some big industrialists have done the opposite – turned acres of barren land into mango orchards.
Reliance Industries, Essar Group and Sanghi Industries, which are better known for their largest single-location refineries and cement plant, are also among the country’s leading mango producers.
It’s not just that they opted for mango plantation instead of low-maintenance trees to meet their commitment for creating a green belt around their plants, but they are constantly working on innovative practices to improve productivity and quality. In fact, mangoes from some of the largest industrial houses’ orchards are organic.
Reliance Industries, which grows 127 varieties of mango in a 600-acre green belt at its Jamnagar refinery complex, looks to beat Israel and Brazil in productivity, a top company official said. These countries produce 8-10 tonnes of mango per acre against India’s average of 3-4 tonnes.
Reliance has named its mango orchard Dhirubhai Ambani Lakhibag Amrayee after a mango grove Mughal Emperor Akbar created in the 16th century. Akbar had planted 1 lakh mango trees in the estate he called Lakhibag at Darbhanga in Bihar; the Ambani Lakhibag has more than 1,38,000 trees.
Parimal Nathwani, group president (corporate affairs) at Reliance Industries, says the company’s Jamnagar mango will herald a revolution in Indian horticulture.
Reliance encourages farmers to visit its orchard and learn from its innovative practices. It also distributes 1 lakh free saplings to farmers every year, says Nathwani, who was a close confidant of Dhirubhai Ambani.
The Ruias of Essar Group, meanwhile, produced 80 tonnes of mango last season compared with less than seven tonnes in 2009. The group plans to plant 12,000 more trees over 60 acres of additional land surrounding its Vadinar refinery in Jamnagar. A company spokesperson said Essar Agrotech has applied for Global GAP certification for exports.
What is noteworthy is that these firms have their orchards in not-so-friendly areas. Alok Sanghi of Sanghi Industries, which operates one of the world’s largest single-stream cement plants in Kutch district, says the group decided to create a mango orchard to showcase that even sweet mango can be grown in an arid region like coastal Kutch.
Mumbai, along with Bangalore and Chennai, dominated the office transaction activity in the Jan-Mar 2013 quarter. However, leasing activity declined as did rental values, reflecting the economic sentiments prevailing in the country.
A CBRE report says that office space transactions slipped by six per cent to approximately 6.6 million sq ft in the Jan-Mar 2013 quarter against 7 million sq ft in the Oct-Dec 2012 quarter. “Occupier focus continued to be on consolidation and more efficient use of their existing portfolio. Rental values continued to witness a downward pressure across micro markets as occupier expansion faced cost pressures”, says the report. CBRE anticipates a downward pressure to persist in most markets in the short to medium term.
Data with Magicbricks.com also shows that the rental price of commercial properties in over 90 per cent of the areas tracked in Mumbai experienced a decline in the Jan-Mar 2013 quarter. Capital values also slipped in areas such as Nariman Point, Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), Borivali East and Chembur.
The Jan-Mar 2013 quarter analysis of pan India office space supply distribution shows that 45 per cent of supply came from Mumbai, followed by Bangalore and Chennai, both at 19 per cent each. The CBRE absorption distribution data for the same period shows that Bangalore accounted for 35 per cent of absorption, followed by Mumbai (28 per cent) and National Capital Region (16 per cent).
The Central Business District of Mumbai continued to witness subdued demand from corporates. “A meager 10,000 sq ft of absorption was witnessed in the micro markets of Nariman Point, Fort and Cuffe Parade during the same quarter. Rental values continued their downward trend and have declined by 3-4 per cent quarter-on-quarter”, said the report.
According to Pankaj Kapoor, MD of the research firm Liases Foras, “There is a rising desperation among developers to dispose off commercial property since the segment is going through a distressing phase”.
Sanjeet D Narain, MD, Narains Corp, a Mumbai based property consultant and realtor firm says, “It was a slow quarter for the Mumbai commercial real estate market. Several markets saw higher supply and there was a pressure on both capital and rental values. During the Jan-Mar 2013 quarter rental values slipped by up to 30 per cent while capital values corrected by over 10 per cent in several markets”.
As supply outstrips demand in major active commercial pockets like BKC, prices are definitely not going up. This is good news for companies looking to scale up their commercial presence in the financial capital.
Yahoo announced it is getting rid of coupon service Deals and the “Yahooligans”internet guide for children while it cleans house.
“Today, we are shutting down a few more products,” Yahoo platforms executive vice president Jay Rossiter said in a blog post.
“By making tough decisions like these, we can focus our energy on building beautiful productsfor you like the two we introduced this week — Yahoo Mail for iPad and Android tablets and Yahoo Weather for iPhone.”
Yahoo Deals will be shut down at the end of the month, along with SMS Alerts and a Yahoo Kids Web guide, originally namedYahooligans.
Yahoo Mail and Messenger apps for feature phones will also be continued on the last day of April in another sign that internet-linked smartphones are taking over the market.
Old versions of Yahoo’s free email service will stop being available the week of June 3, according to the Sunnyvale, California-based firm.
Yahoo in February was given a makeover tailored by style-savvy and engineering-smart chief Marissa Mayer.
Web pages long cluttered with low-brow ads were redesigned to highlight news of interest to visitors, along with feeds of what is getting attention online.
Yahoo has also been focusing on putting its products and services center-stage on smartphones and tablet computers.
Mayer took over in July at Yahoo after 13 years at Google, having been hired as the 20th employee and first woman engineer at the company that went on to be the new king of internet search.
Shortly after taking over at Yahoo, Mayer expressed a vision to “make the world’s daily habitsinspiring and entertaining.”
Mayer joined Yahoo as the fifth chief executive there in as many years as the struggling internet search pioneer tried to reinvent itself as a “premier digital media” company after withering in Google’s shadow.
She has echoed the mantra of predecessors who maintained that the company could find prosperity by mining information about users to insightfully tailor online content and target money-making advertising.
The draft of a much-awaited comprehensive immigration bill in the US could be out as early as next week, a Senator involved in the process said today.
The bill is expected to come out with proposals to pave a pathway to citizenships to some 11 million illegal immigrants, increase the annual quota for H-1B; provide quick legal permanency status or Green Card to students from Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) stream; attract best and the brightest from across the world and increase country specific quota for immigrants.
“You asked me if there’s an agreement? The answer is, we’ve been working very hard, and I think we have come to a position now where we have been able to tell our staffs to draft something. We need to read that, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing. But I’m very optimistic that we’re going to have something very positive to share with the American people here very, very soon, perhaps as early as this week,”
Rubio, the Republican Senator from Florida, is part of the bipartisan group of eight lawmakers who are working on the various aspects of the comprehensive immigration bill and arrive at a consensus to this contentious issue, which has eluded the Congress for decades to address the major loopholes in the current immigration system, which US President Barack Obama describes as broken. Giving an insight into what is in store in the comprehensive immigration bill, Rubio said it is important to understand that it doesn’t give anything.
“It allows people access to the legal immigration system. Some people won’t qualify. They haven’t been here long enough. They’ve committed very serious crimes, they won’t be able to stay. All people will get is the opportunity to apply for things, to apply for a legal status, which isn’t awarded on day one. I mean there’s a process for that,” he said. ”And after some period of time, over 10 years has elapsed, the only thing you will get, assuming that the border is secure, that E-Verify is in place, that an entry/exit system is in place for tracking visas, then the only thing you get is a chance to apply for a Green Card like everybody else does,” Rubio saidThe Florida Senator asserted that the bill would not offer general amnesty to illegal immigrants.
In fact, it would offer a tougher path to citizenship. “The existing law allows those that are here illegally to gain access to citizenship. What it says is you have to go back to your country of birth, and you have to wait 10 years, and then you can apply for it. All we’ve done here is create an alternative to that that they can access. And the alternative we’ve created is going to be longer, more expensive, and more difficult to navigate,” he said. “It would actually be cheaper if they went back home, waited 10 years and applied for a Green Card. We’re not awarding anything. All we’re giving people the opportunity to eventually do, is gain access to the same legal immigration system, the same legal immigration process that would be available to everybody else.
In exchange for all of that, we are going to get the toughest enforcement measures in the history of this country. We are going to secure the border to the extent that’s possible,” he said. “We are going to have an entry and exit system to track visas, because 40 per cent of our illegal immigrants are people that enter legally, and overstay. And we are going to have E-Verify universally, which means you will not be able to find a job in the US, if you are not legally here,” he said.
Indian students opt for overseas education as admissions in local universities get tough Leave a comment
RishabhJain, 17, has written his CBSE XII boards this year. A student of science stream at DPS, RKPuram in Delhi,Jain has already made it to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Purdue University, and Rutgers University, in the US.Jain has accepted the electrical engineering course at the University of Illinois. Not that the US universities he has made it to were the first options for him. Jain’s preference order read: IIT, Delhi Technical University and BITSPilani.
Jain says: “Competition is tough in India. You don’t know whether you will get in at an institute of your choice.” However, for Jain and other science students in his batch, there is even more uncertainty about the future due to the new avatar of engineering entrance exams. Jain is writing the computer-based IIT Mains, but says “you can never be sure of making it through.”
Radhika Agarwal, Jain’s batchmate at DPS RK Puram and a student of humanities stream, has already made it to UC Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon. For Agarwal too, the first choices were top colleges at the University of Delhi. But with the university deciding to increase the number of years for the undergraduate programme to four years from this batch, Agarwal decided to give the US her best shot. “I’m exercising the US option because of the uncertainty.
No one knows anything about the new four-year undergraduate system at the University of Delhi. Plus, there are very few seats in the general category and very high cut-offs to deal with.”
For Reuben Datta, a student of Delhi’s Modern School, Barakhamba Road, Indian colleges were not an option when he started his research in class XI. “DU has changed the system and the first year of a new system is the year of chaos. Even if I get 97% in the boards, I won’t get through to an SRCC. I want to do economics with a minor in music. Do I have that option in India?” Datta asks. He has made it to four colleges in the US.
Here’s the dichotomy. The bright, young future talent like Jain, Agarwal and Datta is taking flight from India though they do not want to. The growing category of students can afford to go abroad for an undergraduate degree, but would be the happiest studying at the creme de la creme institutes here.
This year, amidst uncertainty around admissions to the University of Delhi and engineering colleges, more students seem to be heading abroad.
Of every 10 students who come to Mrinalini Batra, Founder & CEO, International Educational Exchange, a Delhi-based firm that counsels students on going abroad, eight are undergrads and only two are graduates. Batra has been sending students abroad for the last 18 years and has seen the trend change 180 degrees.
She says: “I see a lot of parents apply to the US as a back-up to top notch institutes in India. They are looking for better quality, better experience.” SAT, the key examinations for admission to undergraduate courses in the US, has seen the number of test-takers reach highest-ever levels. While The College Board that conducts SAT does not have a break-up of data from different parts of the world, it confirms: “More Indian students than ever are taking the SAT.”
The SAT is administered at nearly 7,000 testcentres in more than 180 countries. Worldwide, nearly 3 million students take the SAT during an academic year. In India, the SAT is administered six times a year. There are 35 SAT test centres throughout India.
“Relative to the 2010-2011 school year, this has grown 25%,” says Leslie Sepuka, director, regional communications, The College Board. Though she adds that test centre growth and test taker growth are not necessarily proportionate because the number of seats across test centres varies. Some like Urvashi Malik, director and senior career counsellor, CollegeCore Education, a firm that helps send students abroad, say that the increase in applications from India this year has been upwards of 30% for a university like Yale. “This has been the upward trend and has gained momentum.” While the uncertainty around DU admissions and engineering exams may have contributed to the numbers, the trend is not limited to just Delhi or Mumbai.
Malik has just helped send a girl from Dehradun to the University of Chicago on full scholarship. Batra gets applicants from Agra, Indore, Jaipur and Bhopal and these students are equally well-informed about their choices, she says.
Top universities corroborate the increase in the numbers of applications from undergrads from India in the recent years. At Yale, the number of undergrads from India is increasing faster than the number of graduate students. “We have seen an increase in the number of undergraduates from India. Our enrollment of undergraduate students from India has more than doubled from a decade ago. Our enrollment of all students from India has grown nearly 50% from a decade ago,” says Shana N Schneider, director of communications, Yale Office of International Affairs. According to Yale University, the numbers of undergrads from India for the last three years are: 40 in 2012; 39 in 2011 and 37 in 2010.
“We can not, however, disclose application numbers. We can confirm that the number of applications to Yale has gone up each of the last three years,” Schneider adds.
At Princeton University, for instance, the number of undergraduate students has more than doubled in the last five years. This is even when the numbers of graduate students decreased from 84 in 2008-09 to 71 in 2012-13. A total of 59 undergrad students enrolled at the university in 2012-13 academic year as against 50 the previous year and 25 in 2008-09. Its spokesperson Martin Mbugua attributes this to the no-loan financial aid programme, which is available to international and domestic students.
Princeton became the first University in the US to remove loans from financial aid packages and instead replace them with need-based grants that do not have to be repaid. All of Princeton scholarships are need-based (Princeton does not award merit-based scholarships to any students).
“This system makes it possible for our undergraduates to graduate without debt. The University’s admission process is need-blind for both domestic and international students, which means that students are not at any disadvantage if they need financial aid,” says Mbugua.
That makes it easier for parents like Sahima Datta, an alumna of University of Delhi and mother of Reuben, to back her son’s decision to go abroad. “US offers a much larger canvas and with scholarships, it’s better to opt to go out,” she says