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Of Narayana Murthy and controversy

April 13, 2007

N R Narayana Murthy, the chief mentor and chairman of India's IT darling Infosys Technologies, is one of the world's most admired entrepreneurs. His name has been proposed by many to be the next Indian President. Even in President A P J Abdul Kalam's own words, Murthy would make a 'fantastic' President.

Success and Murthy, thus, are no strangers. But neither are success and controversy.

And Murthy recently found himself caught in the eye of the storm. Here are the few occasions when one of India's greatest businessmen found himself embroiled in a controversy.

The national anthem controversy

When President Kalam recently visited the Mysore campus of Infosys, little did anyone know that the playing of the national anthem at the Infy facility would snowball into a major debate.

What happened was that instead of singing Jana, Gana, Mana, the national anthem was played out on an electronic instrument. This raised the hackles of many who questioned Murthy the reason behind not singing the anthem.

Explaining the reason, Murthy said: "We have a lot of foreigners. We didn't want them to be embarrassed, when they are silent and others are singing. So this was fine."

And this led to a flood of protests, angry reactions from politicians, writers, social activists and bloggers. Some demanded Murthy's arrest, others wanted him expelled from Karnataka. . .

With the issue escalating further, Murthy quickly apologized, saying: "If the media statement has hurt anybody's sentiments, I deeply apologise."

However, the apology has not gone down well with his detractors and calls for his arrest are still on.

President A P J Abdul Kalam is presented with a bouquet of flowers by Chief Mentor of Infosys N R Narayan Murthy (L) while his wife Sudha Murthy (R) looks on during Kalam's visit to the Infosys Campus in Mysore on April 8.
Photograph: Shailendra Sharma/AFP/Getty Images

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