Mohandas Pai and HIS tax money
In my past career as a software slave in Infosys, I had the good fortune of seeing upclose the tyranny of an HR head — T.V.Mohandas Pai. IT companies being exempted from labour laws, the HR heads had a free hand in deciding the law of the land in the campus spread across hundreds of acres, which they got from the Government at dirt cheap rates. (More on infosys’s ugly land grab here-http://www.outlookindia.com/.../is-it-all-for-land/229158 )
So, at the height of the recession in 2008, this man thought this is the right time for him to play dictator. One fine day, he increased the working hours of 8.5 hours to 9.25 hours per day. The swipe in/swipe outs were made compulsory. When the policy was announced in April 2008, in the official communiqué it was said that it will be strictly followed only from January 2009 and this was only on an experimental basis. So, most of us continued to log in just about 8.5 hours at the workplace. But in January 2009, another communiqué was sent, saying that they have decided to retrospectively follow 9.25 hours woktime strictly from April 2008. Leaves equal to the amount of shortfall hours will be deducted from everyone’s account. So, I ended up losing all of the 15 leaves in my account and some more loss of pay leaves. Of course, this being an IT company no one reacted, fearing pink slips. I remember writing a thickly veiled protest post in the internal blogs, pointing at among other things Orwell’s ‘1984’.
Around that time, pink slips were being issued to thousands of employees. Several managers were forced to give low ratings to at least one employee from their team. So, in teams in which everyone was performing well, one good performer invariably became a scapegoat. One of my close friends too got a pink slip at that time. That was when I saw up close the sheer tyranny of the corporate system. The friend was called for a quick meeting and issued pink slip. She was escorted back to her seat by a security man, and she found that her account was locked out by then. She was asked to take her belongings and leave right then. Her ID card was snatched away at the gates, and in less than an hour she had become jobless.
Then there were the strict dress codes. Security men were asked to scan every employee walking in, without a tie, belt or shoes. Five hundred rupees was the fine amount if you were not having any one of these. Going back to my training days in the 5-star campus in Mysore, it was a veritable pressure cooker, inside which many a promising engineer crumpled. If you failed in 3 out of the 10 or 12 module tests, you were thrown out of the company. Imagine, there are students who are coming there from across the country right from their colleges, after having got a ‘confirmed’ job. After being thrown out, they can hardly face their parents and relatives back home. During my four months of stay there, our batch had heard news of at least 3 suicides of students who couldnt handle the pressure, none of which were reported in the media. Almost all batches who have passed out of there have narrated similar stories and similar number of suicides.
So, why am I recollecting all these useless stories from the past? Well, today, I happened to read T.V.Mohandas Pai’s utterly nonsensical article titled ‘Dear JNU Students, We Fund Your Studies, Not Your Politics’. He writes — “As for JNU, it is time the government asked students to pay the full cost of education; in case students wish to focus on politics and not on their studies, there is no case for taxpayers to subsidise extreme views or an archaic Left. Freedom does not include the right to misuse tax payers’ monies. Further, the faculty issue also needs to be tackled. Too much of the faculty is indulging in politics, forgetting their primary duties.”
Imagine the temerity of this guy to write something like this. He built up his company with the aid of crores of tax sops and built Special Economic Zones where none of the laws of the land, including labour laws, reservation or environmental laws, are followed, is lecturing the students on their meagre educational expenses. And, when he says “it’s my tax money”, he speaks as if it’s his charity. Mr. Pai, you are paying taxes because you got no other choice. We all know the history of how Infosys was pulled up in US for evading taxes. Your corporate ilk, the top 10 companies have non performing assets to the tune of 7 lakh crores across all public banks. That’s our money too, Mr. Pai. The money that even the poorest of this country pay as indirect taxes when they buy a match box from the shop. So, stop talking like you are doing all of us a favour by paying taxes. Given an option, you would probably evade it too.
To put things in perspective, as far as just cold numbers are concerned, the allocation for school education sector in the previous budget was just 42,000 crores and for the higher education sector 26,000 crores. The total amount is 2 percent less than the previous year. At the same time, in each of the previous years, the corporate sector in the country got 5 lakh crores of tax cut. So, Mr.Mohandas Pai, a part of this Corporate sector which has fattened itself on OUR money is telling us that we shouldn’t study with HIS tax money.
His other issue here is with people who have the courage to speak up, to question. What the corporate sweatshops of his ilk need are people who accept everything as their ‘fate’ and continue to behave as slaves and ass-lickers. If a part of the spirit of JNU spreads to campuses across the country, the corporate czars will have to encounter people who ask the uncomfortable questions. Not that it will matter in any way in those de-unionised glass lands.
Borrowing a few words from Stanley Johny’s brilliant post (https://www.facebook.com/johnstanly/posts/10154536522503272?pnref=story )- “And, don’t monopolise your position on behalf of the entire tax-payers of this country. I am a tax-paying citizen as well. I would rather prefer the government spending the money it collects from me and my fellow-citizens on high-quality education and healthcare, like any modern, progressive state, rather than doling out incentives to a bunch of capitalists.
And finally, Mr. Pai is the Chairman of Manipal Global Education Services Pvt Ltd, a private provider of higher education services in India as well as abroad. His problem with JNU is understandable. I am a son of a coolie, who lost his father at the age of 15. Sans institutions such as MGU (Kerala) and JNU, I wouldn’t even have an MA, let alone a PhD. My anger over these ridiculous attack on the country’s premier educational institution is also understandable, isn’t it?”
So, Mr.Mohandas Pai, the corporate poster boy of the Hindutva tribe, who in his tirade against campus politics has stayed mysteriously silent on ABVP, should just shut the fuck up. You who have stood firmly behind the #ChildrenOfGodse and sings slogans for #AvanteAchanteDinam is as much a danger to this pluralistic nation, as is Arnab Goswami.
PS- Partly thankful to the tyranny, for it forced me to bid goodbye to IT and take up journalism.
A retired corporate slave of yours.