The 33rd Infosys AGM was marked by emotions, long speeches and suggestions by enthusiastic shareholders. Some had travelled from different parts of south India to attend the last AGM presided over by N.R. Narayana Murthy. Some sang songs and recited poetry praising Infosys and Mr. Murthy. Some delivered long speeches about his legacy with one speaker calling him “Brahma (creator) of the IT industry”. Another appealed to Mr. Murthy to not step down, or to “at least allow his son to continue in the company”. Mr. Murthy replied that his decision is final and that he is leaving behind an able team.
On the new CEO, most appreciated the decision to hire an external candidate. One went to the extent of thanking the Board for the decision as “Punjabis are generally aggressive leaders compared to south Indians”.
On a more serious note, shareholders asked vital questions about the functioning of the company, including the lack of enough women on the Board.
CEO S.D. Shibulal defended the number of women in the company. He said their share in the workforce had increased from about 24 per cent a few years ago to 34 per cent. However, the Board has only two women. Mr. Murthy said the Board would consider changes.
A group of shareholders flared up when Board members said that the questions had to be cut short in order to be able to finish on time and in keeping with Infosys’s culture of efficiency. “What efficiency are you talking about? The Board members took all the time with their own speeches. When we offer criticism, they are shutting us up. We are shareholders and have a right to be heard,” one of them said. All shareholders sought bonus shares.