The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Careers under cloud
- Arrest of CEO throws up need for mechanism to protect staff

The techies were keying in codes and the telecallers were busy calling clients — it was a normal working day on the seventh and eighth floors of Kariwala Towers, opposite the Tata Consultancy Service (TCS) office in Sector V.

But behind the apparent business-as-usual scene, there was no missing the spectre of an uncertain future facing the employees of Xponse.

On Sunday, Sanjay Kedia, CEO and MD of Xponse, was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau for his alleged dealings with a US firm linked to a drug cartel.

As Sector V woke up to the news — a first of sorts for the fledgling industry — the future of the employees was the talking point on Tuesday.

“The charges are serious and the company may be shut down… Our careers are at stake,” said an employee of Xponse, who joined the firm last September.

The company employs over 350 people in its two divisions — software development and business process outsourcing. From opening another call centre to tapping the capital market, Kedia had big plans for Xponse.

“Why should we stop working' We have not done anything wrong,” said Shobha Dutta, HR manager of Xponse, toeing the official line.

But if the charges against Kedia — an IIT Delhi alumnus — are proved, he will be sentenced for a minimum of 10 years in jail and it is bound to have an impact on the company.

While most IT-preneurs said the arrest of a CEO and MD was a “one-off” incident, the future of employees was a concern, they admitted. “The industry needs to sit back and think as to what mechanism could be put in place to protect the employees under such circumstances,” said Kalyan Kar, managing director, Acclaris.

Quality and security are the biggest concerns in the IT and ITES sector and use of standards to ascertain competence of employees is a standard practice in the industry.

There is, however, no such certification for companies, which makes it difficult for the employees to select their potential employer.

With cases of financial fraud and dubious business linkages of companies tumbling out of the tech sector, a section of the industry is pressing for some certification for firms.

“It is difficult to have such a certification… So, for the young boys and girls, I have only one advice and that is, they must be careful in selecting employers,” said Kiran Karnik, president, National Association for Software and Services Companies (Nasscom).

But that is easier said than done for the 20-something employees, who join the companies straight from colleges.

“There is no way we can ascertain the credentials of the company before joining it. Even when we are working, there are stringent guidelines for us. Things happen at the top-most levels, where there is no transparency,” pointed out an employee of a BPO firm.

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