When Infosys co-founder and chairman emeritus Narayana Murthy lambasted the deteriorating quality of graduates of Indian Institutes of Technology, or IITs, one of those graduates, a high-profile writer, shot back that Infosys is a "body shopping company." Now, there is a debate raging in India over whether Infosys is, indeed, a body shop.
"Body shop" is, of course, a pejorative term applied to an outsourcing company that makes a business out of filling jobs with people who aren't necessarily qualified to do the work. The writer who slapped that tag on Infosys is Chetan Bhagat, a best-selling author, columnist and motivational speaker. Here's some of what Murthy said that upset Bhagat:
Thanks to the coaching classes today, the quality of students entering IITs has gone lower and lower. They somehow get through the joint entrance examination. But their performance in IITs, at jobs or when they come for higher education in institutes in the US is not as good as it used to be.
Bhagat created a firestorm when he responded with this observation:
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.
In a subsequent interview, Bhagat was asked if he regretted making the comment. His response:
No, not really. I mean I wanted to, my point is very valid. And in fact, I was speaking to the Infosys people and they have agreed that, you know, why bring the students into it? Why judge the students?
Asked if he intended to offer an apology to Murthy, Bhagat dismissed the idea:
Come on. I don't think he needs one and I don't think I need to. I mean, what have I said that is so offensive? It's just a corporate and I have given my view. This term called bodyshopping is not my term, it's a term that has come from the software sector only.
So now people in India are engaged in a debate over whether Infosys is a body shop, and according to a Times of India poll, the overwhelming majority of respondents think it is. At this writing, 78 percent (1,265 voters) said "yes," and 22 percent (343 voters) said "no."
I'm happy to settle the debate once and for all. Of course Infosys is a body shop. It became a body shop on the day it started illegally filling positions in this country with unqualified B-1 visa holders, and then lied about it. So I find myself agreeing with Bhagat. If Murthy wants to fix something, he should start by fixing the company that he and his Infosys management cohorts allowed to be broken.