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Sudha Murthy -An Idol and a Superstar for Millions and Trillions


What made her distinguish from others?

Simplicity is the best jewellery she wears. She is simple yet dynamic. She is a revolutionary yet obedient. She is bold yet humble. She is benevolent. She is intelligent and strong. She is confident. She is an inspiration.

She pursued engineering in the 1960s when engineering was not a woman’s cup of tea.

She adapted the bob cut hairstyle in the 1960s when it was a highly revolutionary act for women.

She joined TELCO; an Automobile company in the 1970s under which application advertisement is written ‘Ladies need not apply’.

She is an Engineer, an author, a Philanthropist and a social-worker and last but not the least and most importantly she is a homemaker.

 She has chosen the less traveled road.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”                                                                                                                            -By Robert Frost

 

‘SHE’-The Sudha Murthy

She has always chosen the less travelled path which made the difference in her life .The ‘SHE’ is none other than the ‘HEART’ of Infosys Mrs. Sudha Murthy.

Sudha Murthy life story is an idol for millions and an inspiration for trillions. Sudha Murthy hails from a middle-class family. She was born in Shiggaon in Northern Karnataka on 19th August 1950. Her father R.H Kulkarni was a doctor cum Professor and her mother; Vimla Kulkarni was a school teacher. Though she was born in a middle-class family, her family was extremely studies-oriented. This was the reason Sudha despite being a girl child pursued Engineering when getting an education for a girl was even a matter of disbelief.

She pursued Engineering from B.V.B College of Engineering & Technology in 1972. In 1974, she pursued M.E in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Science. Such an outstanding student Sudha was that she received a gold medal in both of her degrees B.E and M.E from Karnataka Chief Minister Deva Raj Urs.

If you are on a path to achieve a bigger goal, you don’t focus on trivial and minor impediments in life. Sudha Murthy never focused on the things which harassed her when she was the only student among 150 students in engineering. The boys spilled the ink on her chair and used to throw paper airplanes at her but Sudha, non-defeated with a resolved mind focused on her studies.

Sudha was the lass whose marks were known before the result announced. Sudha says she never missed a class because she knew that nobody is going to help her. This thing made her self-sufficient and also made talk to boys on equal terms. She knew to build a building from the stones thrown at her. Mrs. Sudha Murthy says,

"It doesn't matter how intelligent you are, how well off you are, or how well-connected you are. Your perseverance, your courage - if you keep that intact, only such people will always be successful”.

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Telco: A Rare Opportunity

Sudha Murthy wanted to go abroad to pursue the doctorate until once she came across an advertisement on her College notice board from a notable automobile company TELCO; Tata Motors of the present time. The advertisement stated of vacancy for an engineer and under the advertisement, it was written at the bottom line ‘lady candidates need not apply’.

Sudha was agitated and distressed seeing gender discrimination. Sudha scribbled a postcard to the legend who was the head of the company JRD Tata to apply for the same job.

“The great Tatas have always been pioneers. They are the people who started the basic infrastructure industries in India, such as iron and steel, chemicals, textiles, and locomotives. They have cared for higher education in India since 1900 and they were responsible for the establishment of the Indian Institute of Science. Fortunately, I study there. But I am surprised how a company such as Telco is discriminating based on gender.”

She received a letter from JRD Tata within ten days to turn up for the interview and then the opportunity was in her hands.

Sudha Murthy and Narayan Murthy: Two sides of a coin

It would be an injustice not to talk about N.R Narayan Murthy with Sudha Murthy. Narayan Murthy and Sudha Murthy are like two sides of a coin. Both of them are contrary yet complementary and supplementary to each other. Sudha Murthy was bold, extrovert and ambitious whereas Narayan Murthy was introvert and shy.

Sudha Murthy calls herself ‘safety net’ of Narayana Murthy and describes her relationship with Narayan Murthy as

“You are a bird having two wings that you can fly anyway but without the net remains the same so I am.”

They met with each other by a common friend Prasanna who is the Global Head of Wipro at present. Both of them were different yet there common interest and zealous nature made them one. The three years when Narayan Murthy and Sudha courted each other were the memorable ones for the two. Narayan Murthy owed Rs 4000 to Sudha during their courtship period which she maintained in a small diary and tore that paper when she got married to Narayan Murthy. 

In 1978, Murthy and Sudha Murthy entangled in the wedding ceremony. The whole costing of the wedding ceremony is Rs800 which both the families equally shared.

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Sudha Murthy as a MOTHER of Infosys

It won’t be wrong to speak that Sudha Murthy is the MOTHER of the Infosys. She has nurtured and brought up the company like a mother. Sudha has sacrificed her pleasures. She has invested her time which has given her triple returns on the name of Infosys. A mother does everything for her child selflessly so does Sudha Murthy has done.

Sudha Murthy being a very career oriented woman also understands her duties and responsibilities in the family well. She sacrificed her work saying that “I understand I am a woman and I can’t be away from my children and family’. Mother plays an important part in children’s life at an early age is the important age when you can pour the values in your children.

 Sudha considers that period like a 'tapasya' when Mr. Narayan Murthy was totally on the quest to achieve his goal and Sudha Murthy became a single parent to his two children. Even, their children saved every penny and she didn’t purchase a single sari to bring the company up. Narayan Murthy was not aware that in which class his children studies. Mr. Murthy never attended their parent teachers meeting.

Sudha Murthy believes that one must believe in one’s strength, own weaknesses, and one’s way of thinking to accomplish one’s goal. The passion of Sudha Murthy can be estimated from a fact that she works on Sunday as well. She says she does not need any holiday because what we do on holiday is enjoyment and her work is her biggest source of enjoyment and happiness. Sudha also turns her up in the office at 6 a: m.

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Infosys as an Infant

Narayan Murthy started his career as a Research Assistant. In 1977, he joined as General Manager at Patni computers in Mumbai. In the year 1981, Narayan Murthy shared her dream of creating good quality software with Sudha Murthy. Murthy had determined to open a software business but the paucity of capital was the biggest and onliest impediment for his dream.

 It is said that “there is a woman behind every man” and so is Sudha Murthy. Sudha Murthy gave him her sole savings of Rs 10000 to chase his dreams which she has saved for rainy days. Sudha Murthy proved the strongest pillar of Narayan Murthy.

She gave him three years leave from household duties and responsibilities so that he could freely work upon his ambitions. Narayan Murthy began his quest to fulfill his speculations. Sudha Murthy left her service at Telco and shifted to Pune to aid Murthy. In 1983, Sudha Murthy and Narayan shifted to Bangalore.  

For a couple of years, Sudha Murthy and Narayan Murthy worked together but it was affecting their family life as by this time they had turned four. The grit, benevolence, and sacrifice are the greatest things that make Sudha Murthy the Sudha Murthy. At this crossroad of hope when and where she could earn much name and fame, she happily pulled herself back. Sudha sacrificed her ambitions for her family and confirmed her role as a homemaker.

Sudha Murthy-A Philanthropist by heart

 Mathew Arnold says,

“Charity begins at home.”

The seeds of charity were planted in Sudha by her family. Her parents used to offer beneficence generously. Charity is not donating money rather charity is what could empower and improve the nation. In the words of Sudha Murthy,

“Donating 100 crore isn’t more valuable than teaching 100 children”.

Sudha Murthy is a huge country lover. She describes her passion is only to serve the country. Serving does not lie to be an army man. You serve your country by bringing a change in people’s lives, improving their condition and making them self-sufficient.

A small but significant remark transformed Sudha Murthy into a Philanthropic. Sudha Murthy’s 15-year-old daughter Akshata Murthy used to read and write on behalf of a blind child named Anand Shah. At that time, Sudha was a Professor at Bengaluru University. She asked her daughter whether she wants to sponsor the examination. Her daughter disagreed as she doesn’t get the pocket money. She remarked,

“Amma, you are a well-read, well-traveled and educated lady. If you do not do any social work, then you do not have any right to talk about social work to anybody”.

This incident triggered the heart of Sudha Murthy. This simple remark was clouded in her head and mind unless she started working for down-trodden.

The holes in the pocket and the patches on the clothes can be understood only by those who have empathy, understanding, compassion and benevolence. Empathy and compassion are the factors which make a man to do social work.

Once while traveling from Bombay to Bengaluru Sudha encountered a poor girl named Chitra who had escaped because of atrocities of her step-mother. The girl was traveling without a ticket. When the TT of the train caught her without a ticket, Sudha paid the fair on behalf of her. Sudha Murthy took the girl with her and admitted her in an orphanage. Sudha Murthy not only admitted her to the orphanage but also paid the fees for her entire education. The company wherein Chitra was working sent her to the U.S and now she is well settled in the U.S.

Sudha Murthy aspires for women empowerment. She visits the poverty-stricken people in person to get acquainted with their actual condition. Her projects span from rural development, healthcare, education, and public hygiene. Sudha Murthy has always been inclined towards the advancement of women.

She has been working with Gates Foundation for decades. She has opened many orphanages and schools having Computer Centers and libraries. Sudha has started the ‘Library Project’ with an investment of 16lakh and established 60,000 libraries to date.

Sudha Murthy as a Writer

Sudha Murthy is brought up with few facilities in a village. Her affection towards writing was the result of the dearth of entertainment sources and her educationist parents. Sudha started reading and writing from a very young age. Writing began as recreation under the direction of her mother. Eventually, it turns into an occupation.Mrs.Murthy used to write only in her native language i.e. Kannada. At the age of 50, she started writing in English. All of her writings are a blend of her experiences and observations. Shashi Tharoor says about Sudha Murthy,

“It’s a fable with a lesson at the end and dozens of them that make you think, smile and cry. What’s striking is that every story feels true and you can see her sensibilities, her feelings, her opinions and at the same time understated humanity”.

At the age of 29, she visited the U.S.A all alone to publish her first book. Sudha has dedicated her first book to her husband cum friend Narayana Murthy. Her works are a mirror of her heart and mind. Some of the books are translated into English and some are translated into TV series.

Sudha Murthy has scribbled several travelogues, technical books, children books, novels, etc. Sudha Murhty short stories are exclusively very famous. Her most acclaimed books are How I Taught My Grandmother to Read and Other Stories, MahaShweta, The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk, Wise and Otherwise, Grandma’s Bag of stories, The Mother I Never Knew, Dollar Bahu, etc. 

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An Actor cum Kannada Artist

Sudha Murthy interesting facts are lesser known to many people that she made her debut by acting in a Marathi Film called Pitruroon which is based on her Kannada novel Rhun. Sudha Murthy is highly fond of movies. Sudha Murthy watches 265 movies in a year. She says if she would not be an Engineer, then she would be a Film Journalist.

Awards

Sudha Murthy received Padma Shri for her contribution to the economy and social welfare. She has also received the Raj Lakshmi Award and R.K Narayan award for Literature.

One liner for Sudha Murthy

 Sudha Murthy has seen things differently. She is the one who followed a vision, not a path. When others think how to change things, she was determined to take steps to change things. Her optimism and resolve has changed the things. She has pushed the mankind forward through her philanthropy and writings. So, see the things differently, contribute to the society, break the barriers, heals the humanity and change the world into ‘Garden of Eden’.

Sudha Murthy biography inspires every woman to be like her balancing the home and career on equal equilibrium. “Limitation-it’s only your imagination” this is what Sudha Murthy’s life is all about.

Keep Reading! Keep Learning!

By Meghna