Fees of Doing Business

Why Indian corporate icons are terrified of the Modi government

01 October 2019
The Infosys cofounder Narayan Murthy had criticised the Modi government in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Soon after, in May, the Infosys Foundation, an NGO run by Infosys, found its registration cancelled by the home ministry.
indranil mukherjee / afp / getty images
The Infosys cofounder Narayan Murthy had criticised the Modi government in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Soon after, in May, the Infosys Foundation, an NGO run by Infosys, found its registration cancelled by the home ministry.
indranil mukherjee / afp / getty images

In the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in April this year, the Infosys cofounder Narayana Murthy delivered the convocation address to the students of Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata. Without naming any political party, Murthy said that no country could make economic progress without “freedom of faith” and “freedom from fear.” Many interpreted his remark as a dig against the BJP government. In May, the Infosys Foundation, an NGO run by Infosys, found its registration cancelled by the home ministry.

Now that the Modi government has returned to power, Murthy seems to have had a change of heart. On 23 August, he said that the Indian economy is in the best shape it has been in the last three hundred years, despite an avalanche of evidence that might contradict his statement.

The chairperson of Biocon, a biopharmaceutical company, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, also found recently that her views were not taken lightly by the government. When the owner of Café Coffee Day, VG Siddartha, was found dead earlier this year, many people speculated that he might have taken his own life following harassment from tax authorities. Shaw, who was once a bitter critic of the United Progressive Alliance government’s pro-poor policies, also expressed concern about incidents of “tax terrorism.” In August, Shaw told The Telegraph, a government official called her about her remarks, warning her not to make “such statements.”

Sujata Anandan is a senior journalist and author. Her columns and political analyses appear on several media platforms across the country.

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