Ramalinga Raju, is an Indian businessman, and a pioneer of the Information Technology industry in India.. He was the Chairman of Satyam Computer Services Ltd. It was founded in the late 1980′s after venturing earlier into other businesses such as construction and textiles.
Ramalinga Raju was born on September 16, 1954 in a family of farmers. He did his B. Com from Andhra Loyola College at Vijayawada and subsequently did his MBA from Ohio University, USA. Ramalinga Raju had a stint at Harvard too. He attended the Owner / President course at Harvard.
After returning to India in 1977, Ramalinga Raju moved away from the traditional agriculture business and set up a spinning and weaving mill named Sri Satyam. . Thereafter he shifted to the real estate business and started a construction company called Satyam Constructions. In 1987, Ramalinga Raju founded Satyam Computer Services along with one of his brothers-in-law, DVS Raju. The company went public in 1992. With the launch of Satyam Infoway (Sify) Satyam became one of the first to enter Indian internet service market. Today, Satyam has a global presence and serves 44 Fortune 500 and over 390 multinational corporations.
Now the company has rapidly developed and became a true multinational company with thousands of employees spread over multiple countries.
Ramalinga Raju has won several awards and honors. These include Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Services in 1999, Dataquest IT Man of the Year in 2000, and CNBC’s Asian Business Leader – Corporate Citizen of the Year award in 2002.
It took the Satyam founder more than two decades to achieve fame and less than two weeks to turn into a rogue figure, when on 7th Jan 2009, he accepted the fraud of billions of rupee in the company, done by him.
‘Satyam’s Raju is our Hero’ – Supporters
He may have committed the biggest ever fraud in India’s corporate history but for people in his native West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh and his die-hard supporters, Satyam Computer Services founder Ramalinga Raju is still the hero.
Though the IT magnate is in jail after admitting to a Rs.70 billion (approx $1.5 billion) fraud, he still enjoys the support of his admirers who hail his social service initiatives, especially the 108 ambulance service.
“Some people are only interested in making allegations. They have forgotten all the good work done by Raju garu,” said Soma Raju, an employee of the Emergency Medical and Research Institute (EMRI) promoted by the disgraced former chairperson of Satyam.
Rallying behind the son of the soil, people in West Godavari district are planning to hold meetings in every village and town of the district to express their support and sympathy for Raju.
His followers argue that he fudged the company accounts as part of business strategy and not to siphon off the money. They are ready to condone him for the manipulation of funds because of the social services he rendered under the Byrraju Foundation and EMRI.
“People in the remote villages have high respect for him. If anyone falls sick or meets with an accident in the villages there is a 108 ambulance to rush him to the hospital. Earlier, people had to depend on the bullock cart or even carry the sick and injured in their hands,” said Ramesh Verma, an agriculturist, who came to this Andhra Pradesh capital all the way from Bhimavaram in West Godavari district to show his support for Raju.
“He made this district and the entire state proud by starting Satyam and building it into a multinational company. What he did was to help the company and its employees and not to benefit his family,” said Verma.
Bhimavaram town is set to witness a public rally Jan 23 in support of Raju. A similar rally is planned in Garagaparru, Raju’s village, and in the surrounding villages and towns.
People in the villages feel indebted to the Raju family for taking up various philanthropic activities under Byrraju Foundation. Though the family had migrated to Hyderabad in the 1960s, B. Satyanarayana Raju and later his son B. Ramalinga Raju tried to pay back to their village and the district.
The foundation runs a drinking water project for 200 villages, a health centre for the benefit of people in 15 villages and several schools.
Backed by the technical expertise of Satyam, the EMRI through the 108 ambulance saved many lives by shifting the injured in road accidents to hospitals in the shortest possible time.
The state government has allayed apprehensions that it would be closed and said it would ensure that the service continues uninterrupted.
Some of the followers turned up to express their solidarity when Raju was produced before a magistrate on Saturday.
His admirers are now praying for his well-being. A group of five supporters held a ‘yagam’ at a temple here on Monday to pray for the well-being of Raju and his family.
“We are praying for his health, early release and also for the welfare of employees and stakeholders of Satyam and Maytas,” said S. Srinivas Reddy.