Understanding why IT Department summoned Infosys CEO Salil Parikh

Infosys, Department,

On Sunday afternoon, a sudden, unexpected and rather unprecedented tweet by the Income Tax Department attracted a lot of national attention and most probably sent multinational information technology giant Infosys into a fit of panic and tizzy. This Indian company, which has earned quite a name for itself globally and has some big clients, did not expect to be nailed by the Government of India so openly. In its tweet, the IT Department announced that Infosys’ Managing Director (MD) and CEO, Sunil Parikh had been summoned “to explain to the Finance Minister as to why even after 2.5 months since the launch of new e-filing portal, glitches in the portal have not been resolved.”

The portal – www.incometax.gov.in had a bumpy start since its opening on June 7 as taxpayers, tax professionals and other stakeholders reported glitches in its functioning. The portal has been developed by Infosys, and one would expect the famed company’s products to have no issues whatsoever. However, major glitches in the portal had led to annoying taxpayers venting out their anger against the dysfunctional product which Infosys developed. Interestingly, the government has paid Rs 164.5 crore till June 2021 to Infosys to build the new income tax e-filing portal between January 2019 and June 2021.

The same was informed by Minister of State for Finance, Pankaj Chaudhary, who added that taxpayers, tax professionals and other stakeholders have reported glitches in the functioning of the new portal developed by Infosys. Issues experienced by taxpayers pertain to slow functioning of the portal, non-availability of certain functionalities or technical issues in functionalities.

Interestingly, it took a mere tweet by the Income Tax Department to bring Infosys back to the ground. Late on Sunday, hours after the public naming and shaming of the company by the Indian government, Infosys said emergency maintenance on the website had concluded and that it was now live. It must be mentioned that the finance minister – Nirmala Sitharaman had called a meeting on June 22 with key officials of Infosys to review the issues on the portal. Yet, noting that the issues had not been resolved despite the meeting, the government decided to fix Infosys’ accountability in the public domain.

Companies like Infosys take government projects lightly. They do not engage the best of their resources towards the completion of government contracts, due to the historical attitude of lethargy which has plagued previous governments and bureaucracy. Under the present dispensation, however, accountability has become non-negotiable. The government expects the best of services and products and pays a fair price for the same. Therefore, when companies like Infosys take contracts ‘lightly’, the government reminds them that they will be publicly named and shamed.

Issuing a summon to Infosys’ MD and CEO himself is no small feat. It shows how the government has had enough of Infosys’ casual attitude, and how the Finance Ministry and IT Department are now in a mood to tighten some major screws. Infosys received the message on Sunday lock, stock, and barrel. It is owing to the public naming and shaming of the company that Infosys announced hours later that the issue had been resolved after an “emergency maintenance”. Pray tell, why could this “emergency maintenance” not have been conducted prior to the company being publicly nailed by the government?

Infosys and all other vendors whose services the Government of India employs will now make it a point to not disappoint the Modi government in the future. Nobody wants to be made a subject of public nailing by the government, on social media no less.

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