[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2007, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Infosys boss makes anthem apology
By Habib Beary
BBC News, Bangalore

Infosys Technologies chairman, NR Narayana Murthy
Mr Murty is one of the world's most admired business leaders
The founder of one of India's leading technology companies has apologised after being accused of making rude comments about the national anthem.

NR Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys Technologies, said at a function on Sunday that the anthem would "embarrass foreigners".

The function was presided over by President ABJ Abdul Kalam at the company's sprawling Mysore facility.

His comments drew strong criticism from politicians in the state of Karnataka.

Indian 'pride'

Mr Murthy said that he "deeply apologised" if an answer he gave to a media question during the course of President Kalam's recent visit to the Infosys Mysore campus caused any offence.

The Infosys founder was asked why only an instrumental version of the Indian national anthem was played during the president's visit.

He replied that singing the national anthem would have "embarrassed" company employees of foreign origin.

If the media statement has hurt anybody's sentiments, I deeply apologise
NR Narayana Murthy

His comments drew strong criticism from the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Karnataka, who raised the issue during proceedings in the state assembly.

In a statement released afterwards, Mr Murthy said that he decided that only an instrumental version of the national anthem should be played so that everyone could choose whether or not to sing along.

"We wished to share the pride of being an Indian in the gracious presence of our President. We are informed that this is as per protocol," the statement said.

"If the media statement has hurt anybody's sentiments, I deeply apologise."

"We have always kept the interest of India foremost in our minds and our work speaks for itself.

Infosys workers
Infosys develops software systems for a number of global giants

"We are a proud Indian company, with strong universal ethos of transparency, accountability and honesty.

"It has always been our endeavour to represent India with the highest standards of respect and enable it to take its rightful place in the world economy," the non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ listed company said in the statement released on Tuesday.

More criticism

With a turnover of $2.2bn, Infosys is considered one of the role models in India's new economy.

Mr Murthy is known as the Bill Gates of India.

But his stance over the anthem has been strongly criticised in the press, with readers writing in to say that if he is "shy" of the national anthem, "he should have no place in the hearts of Indians".

Mr Murthy also drew criticism at the same function in Mysore by advocating the teaching of English in rural schools across the state to allow pupils to compete for jobs in the global economy.

The head of a local literary organisation accused him of taking a stand against the state's official language, Kannada.

Kannada activists earlier criticised him for not employing enough locals in Infosys.

Infosys boss 'among world's best'
15 Dec 05 |  South Asia
'Hurt' IT guru quits airport job
20 Oct 05 |  South Asia
Infosys makes first overseas buy
18 Dec 03 |  Business
Thailand targets Infosys success
03 Mar 03 |  Business
Infosys dismisses shares concerns
16 Jul 02 |  Business

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific