At a time when almost 90 per cent of my Satyam friends are cribbing about the fraud and betrayal by (former Satyam chairman) B Ramalinga Raju, I have a slightly different opinion.
I know it is bold of me to write this in black and white, but this comes straight from my heart, and experience.
Let me start by quoting an example from 2006. Most of my friends were unemployed, with 50-60 per cent plus marks, with a B.Tech degree from an average university, and madly hunting for a job. Whether people accept it today or not, the truth is that Satyam was the ONLY saviour and the only mass recruiter who was ready to accept students who had backlog. It also did not put a very strict ‘minimum-marks’ criterion.
And this was true not only for my small college in Lucknow, but also many such colleges across India.
Satyam is the fourth-largest IT company in India. Looking at India’s population and the rising unemployment, I really want to thank Raju for giving some 54,000 Indians jobs at least for all these years.
He was the reason for the revival of confidence and the reason for the bread-and-butter for many a family.
Also, Satyam training was renowned all over India. The STC (Satyam Training Centre) created numerous love stories and unexpected rekindling of a youthful environment where girls and boys were more independent than in their colleges.
I remember most of my Satyam friends felt that they made better friends during Satyam’s three-to-six month training than they did in the four years of studying B.Tech.
Unfortunately people forget to thank God in sad times. I know what Raju did is deplorable, and unpardonable. He should have treated the business more formally, and not dealt with it like it was his family affair.
He should have straightened up at least a couple of years ago. Why did he hire so many non-potential candidates and keep them on the bench? When were the managers last told that if they don’t work hard, they will lose their job? Business cannot be run in such a lousy fashion.
I have a lot of friends at Satyam, both male and female. Moreover I network a lot and thus am fairly well clued into what is happening at the company.
I have seen how people tailgate to Satyam, how they give their cards to others to be swiped on their behalf, how female employees have gone home sharp at 6 p.m., irrespective of when they landed at the office. . ., how employees sit at home for months at a stretch, prepare for all kind of post-graduate entrance exams and still enjoy a full month’s pay, how often they went for movies at local theatres at office hours, how often employees went to office just to sign on registers in the mornings and the evenings, how often they faked their health certificates, how often they put unlimited fake medical and house rental bills. . .
How can we blame just one man when EACH AND EVERY person was disloyal? How can we exclude the auditors like PricewaterhouseCoopers? How can we exclude the then board of directors who tried to wash their hands off of the whole affair?
How can we exclude banks who gave hefty loans without true verification? How can we exclude the Andhra Pradesh chief minister who was lenient towards Raju ahd his fellow businessmen? How can we exclude the managers who were never able to trace which bench employee under him had been away from office and for how long?
Yet, how can people forget this is the same man whose ideas and potentials gave them an identity for the past several years? How many couples found the right match at an IT industry, courtesy Satyam, and how many Andhra farmers benefited from their huge investments in Satyam shares.
How can people forget that Satyam launched its offices right at the doorsteps of a residential colony, where people could simply walk to work?
The most gruesome experience that I had was when a Satyam tag wearing person was waiting to attend an interview and I overheard him saying that he was in a business meeting at the MyHome Satyam office when he was sitting right in front of me in a totally different company (little knowing that I too was a Satyam employee).
When employees themselves show such a lousy attitude and don’t care a damn for the brand they carry around their neck, how can they expect others to care?
I am not saying that ALL Satyam employees are bad. I have known very dedicated people too, but my point is simple: before pointing fingers at others, introspect a bit. There are thousands of people who have completed certifications at the cost of Satyam, got trained at Satyam, got better jobs because of Satyam. . .
What Raju did was to keep the business of Satyam going at any cost. I see a smart man in him when he realised that it would be better to accept his mistake than be caught and tried under American laws.
I see a selfish father in him too that he put a lot at stake for Maytas. However, he resigned with dignity: it does take courage to accept your mistake in public.
But one cannot deny that he did create employment, which led to many others benefiting too: the tiffinwallahs, the transport people, those who rented their houses, etc.
Today Satyamites call Raju a fraud.
Well, the true and loyal Satyamites surely have all the reasons to call him a fraud. But the rest, who sucked every rupee out of Satyam without doing any value-addition, need to ask themselves: who is the bigger fraud?