It has been a full four months since I began following developments relating to the visa fraud lawsuit against Infosys that was filed by Infosys employee and whistleblower Jay Palmer. Those developments, which include the U.S. government's subsequent criminal investigation of the company's operations, paint as unflattering a picture of an IT company as any I've seen in my 20 years of covering this industry. And I've seen some shameful pictures.
What's unique in this case is the length to which Infosys, and especially company founder and outgoing chairman Narayana Murthy, have gone over the years to paint the company as a model of high values and corporate integrity. I've watched video after video of Murthy preaching about qualities like integrity and leadership, including one in 2008 in which he quoted Robert Kennedy (I couldn't help but enjoy the irony of Murthy quoting a former U.S. attorney general, given what the feds would be investigating three years later). It all seems to have had an intoxicating effect on Infosys' employees, who, I've come to learn, proudly call themselves "Infoscions."
I've also watched video after video of young, faithful Infoscions professing their love for the company and the values they are convinced it embodies. One young woman who was interviewed for an Infosys-produced video put it this way:
Infosys stands for values. That's what I was looking for when I joined Infosys, and in my three years of experience here at Infosys, each and every interaction I've had at different levels, the values have come out. I think that's what it is. Infosys is known for values and integrity, and when people see me outside, they know me as a person of values and integrity just because I come from this company.
It's all kind of surreal, and a little scary. I follow @Infosys and the #infosys hashtag on Twitter, and I've been amazed at how the Kool-Aid never stops flowing, and how the Infoscions never seem to tire of lapping it up. You'd think that the civil lawsuit and federal criminal investigation, which have been covered extensively by the Indian press, would have caught the attention of at least some of the Infoscions, but I have yet to see any indication that the matters have had any demonstrable impact on these earnest employees.
What's difficult for me is that I know a lot more about what's happening at Infosys than I'm able to write about for now, and it bothers me that these kids have no clue about some of the things that are going on. I'm convinced that the time will come when they will know, and I can't help but wonder how many bubbles will be burst and dreams will be shattered. To anyone at Infosys who reads this, and who is in a position to know even what relatively little I know, don't fool yourselves. This stuff isn't going to go away. At least have the decency to prepare those young, starry-eyed Infoscions for the fall.