Akshaya Patra's governance in question as 4 independent directors resign

Mohandas Pai
Four prominent independent directors have resigned from non-profit organisation Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF) due to differences between them and the APF's chair and vice-chairman, Times of India reported. According to the report, the differences were in the relationship between the organisation and certain temple trusts. 

The four who quit — former Infosys CFOs Mohandas Pai and V Balakrishnan, Raj Kondur, co-founder of Chrys Capital, and Abhay Jain, adviser to Manipal Education & Medical Group — wanted to keep a distance from the temple trusts.  

Times of India reported that several rounds of discussions to address issues hit a stalemate. APF vice-chairman Chanchalapathi Dasa told, "Resignations are not related to governance issues or related-party transaction." 

However, APF audit committee's communication to the board highlights several lapses, including a lack of basic internal financial control. 

The four people who resigned were responsible for building the non-profit into such a massive organisation. In 2019-20, it received Rs 248 crore as grants and cash subsidy, and Rs 352 crore as public donations. APF feeds 1.8 million children in 19,039 government and government-aided schools across 12 states and two Union Territories.

APF’s Chanchalapathi Dasa acknowledged the receipt of whistleblower complaints. He said, “The matter was investigated under the supervision of the audit committee, recoveries made and action taken on persons involved.” He said the newly appointed chairman of the audit committee will review related-party transactions for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, and advise the organisation for any required remedial actions. To this Suresh Senapaty, former Wipro CFO and former member of APF’s audit committee, said, “Responses contained in these questions are selective and do not completely reflect the truth.”

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