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Infosys peers spar on quota
- Pai targets Nilekani

Bangalore, March 19: An apparent communication gap over affirmative action appears to have pitted two erstwhile Infoscions against each other.

Nandan Nilekani, the Infosys veteran now fighting the election from Bangalore South on a Congress ticket, had last week supported job reservations in the public sector and suggested some initiatives by the private sector.

But a perception was created that he was calling for job quotas in the private sector, which prompted a sharp response from Mohandas Pai, Infosys’s former chief financial officer who is now a commentator on public affairs.

Pai tweeted: “Selling his soul for power, made his money in company wedded to meritocracy.”

Pai, who was also the head of human resources and education and research before he quit Infosys in 2011, is now the chairman of the Manipal Group of Education.

Nilekani, who is taking on five-time MP Ananth Kumar of the BJP, was quick to react, drawing a subtle distinction between reservations in the public and private sectors.

Nilekani, who was the chief executive officer of Infosys between 2002 and 2007, blogged: “I favour the reservations that currently exist in the public sector — they are a force for inclusion and affirmative action. Reservation exists in the public sector because we have to acknowledge as a country that certain groups of people have been discriminated against for hundreds of years.”

He added: “When it comes to the private sector, however, we should encourage private companies to be more proactive about inclusion, and not over-regulate them. The focus should be on job creation — on creating more opportunity, rather than just dividing up existing opportunity.”

In a recent interaction with reporters, Nilekani, who left Infosys in 2009, had said: “In the private sector, companies are trying proactively to make sure they create jobs for different categories. Even in Infosys, when I was there, they had a programme to do that.”

In response to a question, Pai said tonight: “It’s very disappointing to read these comments. All of us had high expectations of him.”