I have a problem with Pranoy Roy hosting a chat-show. He tends to hog the talk time. In NDTV Q & A (Dec.22), featuring Inforsys Narayanamurthy, a large and very informed studio audience could get no more than two questions. The 30-minute show, of which three or more minutes were lost to commercial break, was dominated by the host, Mr Roy. Who isn’t fond of hearing his own voice? But I wish Mr Roy had let his guest finish his thoughts or have his say without interruption. Before N M finished answering a question P R came up with a fresh one. I am sure TVwalahs have their reason; time constraints. NDTV programme producer could turn around and say, ‘we haven’t the whole day, mate’.
I recall, during the Emergency, Indira Gandhi (so feared at home) was once cut off in mid-sentence by an interviewer of an American news channel, saying, 'Thank you, Madam Prime Minister, that's all we have time for'.
During the NDTV show there were moments when we had Pranoy Roy butting in with his one-liner. As Narayana Murthy articulated his thoughts on giving away much of his vast wealth, by setting up a corpus, the show host came up with a quip, ‘what, if your son were to hear this’, or something to that effect. I wonder if Mr Narayana Murthy would have put up with such impolite intteruption, had it come from a lowly newspaper reporter during a press conference in his native Mysore. But then N M managed to have the last word. When the show host invited questions from the audience - ‘the suited gentleman there, on the third row’ - Mr Murthy put Mr Roy down, saying, he (Narayana Murthy) had set a ground rule on Q & A.
Which was, a woman and a gentleman would take turns in asking him questions, and a lady in the audience would make the start. And the lady asked why N M wouldn’t enter politics - ‘we would like to see you in the cabinet’. When Mr Narayana Murthy reiterated that he had no desire to enter politics, we had Mr Roy saying, rather pointlessly, that Mr Murthy may not want to, but it was the desire of society (that he should be in the cabinet).
To be fair to Mr Roy, the NDTV show managed to bring out the man behind India’s best known IT corporate face. In his young days (in Mysore, presumably) Mr Murthy used to make daily visits to the railway station, and part with some small change by way of alms. For him, making money was less of a priority than seeking respect for his company in the corporate world - ‘coming from the middle-class, respect means a lot more to me’.
Now that he got tons of it, what did he spend his money on? Gadgets, and books. He said (if I heard him right) he bought books worth Rs.20,000 a month.
P R to N M: What is your one big ambition? Having asked him, Mr Roy wouldn’t allow Infosys Murthy time enough to marshal his thoughts. We heard him saying that his son kept nagging Mr Murthy - ‘you still haven’t written it down what you want to do in the next five years’. Viewers were left wondering what it meant. Was he being pushed by his son to do a book? Was a Murthy memoirs in the works? Mr Roy wouldn’t let him finish his thoughts before he sprang the next question, on Mr Murthy’s business ethics.
Mr Narayana Murthy justified the early Infosys policy of giving company stocks to all its employees, which has made very many employees filthy rich. The Infosys founder observed it was the first such move by any Indian company, and the largest experiment in democratization of wealth. This resulted in some employees leaving Infosys to set up their own companies. Mr Murthy referred to an ex-Infosys man getting into developing a golf course.