Infosys ex-honcho Balakrishnan seeks to change system (Election Special)
Former Infosys idol V. Balakrishnan is determined to use his clean image to fight "the corrupt system" but finds the going tough in the Lok Sabha battle here.
"I am aware of my limitations that are in line with my party's limitations in fighting a parliamentary election at such a short notice," the Aam Aadmi Party candidate said in an interview.
"Though I do not have the infrastructure and human and financial resources rivals have and flaunt, I have a clean image, proven credentials and an agenda to change the corrupt system," Balakrishnan told IANS.
He is pitted against P.C. Mohan, outgoing BJP MP, and Rizwan Arshad of the Congress in the Bangalore Central constituency.
In Bangalore, it has the largest number of electorate - a whopping 2.3 million.
After seeing the money being spent by the BJP and the Congress, Balakrishnan feels that contributions to political parties, especially for funding elections, should be made public.
"Like charity, accountability and transparency should begin with political parties to eliminate quid pro quo and make the system immune to corruption."
Balakrishnan, who joined AAP after the Delhi assembly elections, said he was ready for a long haul in politics and public life irrespective of the Lok Sabha outcome.
"As we have to make a beginning somewhere, general election is an ideal platform to intensify the war against corruption by creating awareness and involving the people to become agents of change."
As head of India business unit at Infosys and earlier as its chief financial executive for years, Balakrishnan had vast exposure to the way the "system" works in the corridors of power - and how difficult it is to get anything done in the government without influence or quid pro quo.
After he quit Infosys in December, he got attracted to AAP to "join the crusade against the system that needs to be changed", he said.
He wasn't the only one in the IT world to dream of change. Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani joined the Congress to contest from the Bangalore South constituency.
Interestingly, when Balakrishnan joined AAP Jan 1 online paying the Rs.10 membership fee a day after quitting Infosys, hardly anyone in the party knew him.
"It was only when my joining AAP became breaking news that I received a warm response from its co-founders.
"The uneasy experience I had in dealing with the system with its pulls and pressures was disturbing, as I did not have the wherewithal to fight it.
"But the genesis of AAP and its agenda for clean and honest governance and a corruption-free system to serve the people convinced me that I too should do my bit as these are dear to my heart."
Domain expertise in finance, economics and policies with experience in back-office functions at Infosys as its BPO head came handy for Balakrishnan to help the young party formulate its economic agenda, set up systems and processes in place to streamline its operations and coordinate its activities nationwide.
"Contesting this election was not in my mind. But (AAP leader) Arvind Kejriwal convinced me that AAP needed me to contest because the system cannot be fought, much less changed, from the outside."
(Fakir Balaji can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 04-04-2014)