27 Oct-2 Nov, 2011
small world
Data on a UID Partner

KOCHI ~ Accenture Services, one of the three companies awarded the Rs 2,000 crore tender for generating a biometric database for the Unique Identification Authority of India, has charges of kickbacks, delays and overbudgeting against it in the US. Just last month, Accenture arrived at a $ 63.7 million settlement over kickbacks it took for giving out government contracts.

Among the three companies given the contract by the UID Authority, Accenture has the majority of the work. Of 10 fingerprints collected, Accenture will get five, Mahindra Satyam three and L-I Identity Solutions two. The project will either run up to two years or until 200 million enrolments.
In a lawsuit filed in the eastern district court of Arkansas, the US government accused Accenture of receiving kickbacks, inflating prices and rigging bids on federal infotech contracts. Information technology development for various government departments had been outsourced to Accenture since 1998.

A suit filed on 4 December 2007 alleges, ‘Millions of dollars of kickbacks were sought, received, offered and paid between and among Accenture and its alliances violating False Claims Act and other federal statutes and regulations.’

Also, in September 2007, the General Assembly of Connecticut was informed that eight public entities had cancelled contracts with Accenture. Among them was the US Marine Corps, which had struck a six-month, $ 4.5 million contract with Accenture in July 2005 to design and implement a new global supply chain and maintenance system. Accenture, it was alleged, did not meet the contract’s cost, schedule and performance baselines.

A Karnataka High Court lawyer, BT Venkatesh, has sent a legal notice to the UIDA and Indian Government, asking for a rethink on the contract. He says, “The biometric identification of 200 million Indian citizens is very crucial data. How can the Government give such a task to a company that is not even able to win the trust of the government in its own country?”

Take Two
Hey Ram
The absurdity of Delhi University’s move to drop an essay on Ram from its syllabus

AK Ramanujam’s essay ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation’ has a fascinating paragraph in it. Describing some of the later Ramayanas, Ramanujam refers to a scene of Sita wanting to accompany Ram when he is exiled. Ram refuses, but she is not so easily spurned. Ramanujam writes, ‘Sita argues with him. At first she uses the usual arguments: she is his wife, she should share his sufferings, exile herself in his exile, and so on.’ Ram is not convinced. Then, Sita pulls out the trump card. ‘She bursts out, “Countless Ramayanas have been composed before this. Do you know of one where Sita doesn’t go with Rama to the forest?” That clinches the argument, and she goes with him.’

Recently, Delhi University pulled out the essay from its history department’s syllabus. It did this after the Academic Council voted to drop it. The Academic Council decided to drop it despite three members of a four-member expert committee saying that the essay should continue in the syllabus. The Indian Express accessed the report and published the objection of the lone dissenting committee member. It had nothing to do with the essay’s accuracy. Instead, the man thought undergraduate students would not tolerate it. “If the teacher explains the background of these versions, students may be convinced. But I doubt if college teachers are well-equipped to handle the situation which, I forebear, is likely to become more difficult in the case of a non-Hindu teacher,” he noted. There are so many twisted values on exhibit in this one line: that only truths that are palatable are valid and the entirely communal idea that only Hindus have the ability to judge Hindu myths.

The essay itself is lucid and hardly requires any commentary. While tracing the development of the many Ramayanas, it is laudatory of a faith that can make such a myth so fertile that every imagination seeks to capture it as part of its own culture. The men who had a problem with Ramanujam’s essay were Hindu hardliners who unsurprisingly have no imagination. Sometime back, you saw Mumbai University removing a Rohinton Mistry novel from one of its syllabuses because a boy with a Thackeray surname muttered an objection. When the abiding lesson a student takes from his university is how to immediately bow down to a non-existent threat, is it any wonder that Indians learn to tolerate everything from genocide to magnificent pointless statues of elephants?

A Film Audition on Facebook

As if we weren’t on Facebook enough, now Nissan India is asking youngsters to audition on it for a role in a Ranbir Kapoor movie. The auditions for the film titled New Star of India will happen on Nissan’s FB page. The filmmakers have 20 slots free and are looking for people who can shake a leg well enough to dance next to Kapoor. You can upload an audition video on Facebook, or choose to drop by an audition venue in your city. Kiminobu Tokuyama, MD and CEO, Nissan Motor India Pvt Ltd, says, “The idea behind New Star of India was to take this core concept and apply it to a ground-
breaking social media campaign. We wanted to do something no one has attempted before with a real ‘wow’ factor. We know that the online space is becoming important in India, and we felt Facebook was the perfect platform to audition for this movie. We also wanted to make New Star of India as inclusive as possible, and make it easy to engage with. And hence FB is ideal.” Ranbir and the masses who watch the video get to select the lucky few. And if you are not taking part, it’s cool, because if you vote and share, you may still get a chance to win a Micra.