Hum badhe chale, hum nahi ruke (We keep stepping forward, we didn’t stop
Hum navyug Ki santan hai (We are the children of new era)
Hum Kadam dhare, piche naa mude (We stepped in, didn’t turn back)
Manzil hamari mahan hai, (Our destination is great)
Samay Kisi ka sathi nahi, (Time is not a friend of anybody
Par hum samay ke sathi hai”. (But we have befriended time)
You might be wondering why I penned this patriotic song in the article of Narayan Murthy because nothing can portray Narayan Murthy in the best way as these lines of the song “Hum badhe chale”.
The relevance of the song and the character of Narayan Murthy is described in the next paragraph.
Hum badhe chale, hum nahi ruke (we keep stepping forward, we didn’t stop)-
Though Narayan Murthy was born in a family having a paucity of resources but he never gave up on his dreams and kept stepping forward despite abundant hardships.
Hum Navyug ki Santan hai (We are the children of a new era)”-
Narayan Murthy was born in the dawn of Independence of India which was marked by many technological advancements like manufacturing of steel plants, automobile companies and most importantly the advent of COMPUTERS heralded by Narayan Murthy in terms of INFOSYS.
Hum Kadam dhare, piche naa mude (we stepped in, didn’t turn back)” - Narayan Murthy conceptualized the idea of founding Infosys and never turned back despite adversity and distress in failing with his first endeavor ‘Softronics’.
Manzil hamari mahaan hai (Our destination is great)” –
The first and foremost aim of Narayan Murthy was not to make wealth for himself but his zest to make INDIA the most powerful techno-centric country. His destination was only one i.e. to convert India into a highly technologically advanced Country.
Samay Kisi ka sathi nahi, par hum Samay ke sathi hai (Time is not the friend of anybody but we have befriended time)” –
Time never favors anybody but Narayan Murthy befriended time. Time showed him vicissitudes in life but Narayan Murthy conquered every tribulation of time.
Nagavara Ramarao Narayan Murthy was born in a small village of Karnataka on 20th August 1946. Narayan Murthy was the fifth child among his eight siblings. He belonged to a lower-middle-class family where there was an utter dearth of all kinds of resources. His father used to teach English, Mathematics, and Physics in High School. The siblings had great care and affection with each other.
Narayan Murthy’s father Nagavara Ramarao's father believed that “a healthy mind resides in a healthy body” and that is what Narayan Murthy is the role model of today. Narayan Murthy’s father laid the foundation of Narayan Murthy. His father was a very bibliophile man and encouraged him to read the books of renowned writers like William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, etc. He believed and stressed in learning English.
The two subjects Mathematics and English play a very pivotal role in Narayan’s life. His father has believed that reading such inspiring books adds value to our lives and gives a better outlook to view society and one’s own life.
Another subject mathematics also places an important place in Narayan Murthy’s life. Narayan Murthy, his father, his grandfather and in future, his son Rohan, all were extremely inclined towards Mathematics. They had huge reverence and respect for mathematics. His extreme fondness and excellent command in Mathematics coerced him to choose the career of Engineering.
It was the time of post-independence when Narayan Murthy was studying and looking for better career opportunities. India was growing every day. His father used to tell them the fastly growing and developing India. Every day a new advancement was taking place.
Jawaharlal Nehru had a great vision to build Modern India. India was reforming and developing. The steel plants was developing, Atomic Energy Plants and Educational Institutes of Higher learning were established. India had embarked on the journey of development and growth.
Since India had just begun growing into a developing country, Narayan Murthy knew that there is a wide scope of Engineering in India. So, he opted for Electrical engineering.
Narayan Murthy wanted to go for higher studies but his father refused to say that his education will involve a one-third salary of him and he has 7 more children, so he won’t be able to make it and if he is smart and works harder, then it doesn’t matter where he studies.
Narayan Murthy received a Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering from the University of Mysore in 1967. He first encountered Computers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Narayan Murthy witnessed a machine wherein at one side papers were inserted and on the other side, papers were collected. Narayan Murthy’s friends fooled him that it is a computer which was a Printer IVM 407. His friends made fun of him in the hostel and after that incident, he became pretty good at handling computers within just 6 months. In 1969, he pursued M.S from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.
One day, he listened to a Sabbatical Professor who hailed from the University of Princeton. He talked about the future of the world and computers that how computers would impact the world.
It was just a breakfast table talk but Narayan Murthy became fascinated listening to his words. He went to him out of curiosity to know more about computers. Computers were completely an unfamiliar and unconventional thing for India. He asked to suggest him a few papers that he could read and learn at Central Library.
Next Morning, Narayan Murthy visited his Professor that he is going to change his field from Electrical Engineering to Computer Science. His professor asked him certain questions to him and after listening to his answers, he just wished him all the best. This incident had a lasting effect on Narayan Murthy which transformed his mindset.
After completion of M.S, he went to London where he worked for a company named SESA for three years where he excelled in managing software. Narayan Murthy states that there were only 12 students who did graduation from Computer Sciences and as India had not acquainted with computers, there was little scope at that time. Everyone had only 4-5 job opportunities.
When Narayan Murthy was looking for a job, his Professor Mr.RajaRaman called him up and asked him to meet to a professor named Prof. Krishna from IIM, Ahmedabad. Professor Krishna turned up for recruitment. He was going to install the first time-sharing system in the country.
Mr.Murthy was stubbed to listen that how this time-sharing system would impact the country in terms of his knowledge of Science and future prospects. The only negative point was that the salary was just half from what he had gotten.
He went to his professor Mr.RajaRaman and said that that his salary is just half. He said, “At this age, if I were you, I would take the job at IIM Ahmedabad, you will have an opportunity to study time-sharing system works and various components of the time-sharing system. You will also have an opportunity to develop into assimilator etc. because, at that time, the ECIL Electronics Corporation India Limited was manufacturing computers in India. He needs a lot of software and you will be able to do that”.
He listened to his Professor and spoke to his father. He said that he doesn’t know anything about it and ask him to follow his teachers’ saying. And he did what Prof.RajaRaman told him which he describes as the best decision of him.
In 1973, he joined the job at IIM, Ahmedabad as Chief Assistant Programmer. He was the ‘Head’ of the Computer Centre where he learned many things. He had an opportunity to install a time-saving system.
It was based on HP 2116 B.He had gotten the source code of time-saving system where he learned about how the drivers work, how to modify the operating system to suit their needs etc. He developed an assimilator for one of the Indian computers on top of the saving system which ran on HP and developed a basic interpreter running on a similar tab which was a wonderful thing.
He had another piece of software that was as infallible as the software that HP had produced. It did not have a single bug. Even today also if someone says that this bug or that bug has a problem, he says HP produced such an unbelievable software in 1968 that had not a single bug then why you can’t do.
Narayan Murthy visited France where he underwent a metamorphosis of his views and outlook. He learned several important lessons. One lesson is that “the only way a society can solve the problem of poverty is to create vocational jobs. It is the responsibility of the government to create jobs and to create an environment where more and more entrepreneurs can create better and better jobs in larger and larger numbers.”
That was the biggest lesson he learned in France.
Before coming back to his own country, Narayan Murthy visited a place called ‘Nash’. At 8:30 he came to the railway station to catch the train ‘Sofia Express’ for Nash. A boy and girl were sitting opposite to him. Narayan Murthy tried to strike a conversation to both of them but they understood neither English nor Russian.
Then the girl understood French and Narayan Murthy started talking to her in French but the boy who was not the part of the conversation somehow got anguished with them and called the police up.
The Police took the girl away and snatched the bag pack of Mr.Murthy and dragged him out of the train. They locked him in a small room for three days without food and water. He slept on a cold floor. He remained there for 120 hours. After three days, they put him out of the train and said something which completely transformed his life and mindset.
They said, “You belong to a friendly country like India. Therefore, we are letting you go.”
Narayan Murthy thought if this society treats friends like this, I don’t want to be part of that kind of society.
And that was the moment which transformed him into confused leftist to a determined and compassionate Capitalist. He says that he is a capitalist by mind and socialism by heart.
He determined that he will go back to his country and conduct entrepreneurship.
Narayan Murthy says, “If you want the stability and harmony in any society, then the rich, powerful and elite will have to show self-restraint. Self-restraint in allocating for themselves more power, more part of the fruit of their labors, therefore only a society where rich and the powerful are self-restraint, society will flourish. Otherwise, capitalism has the danger of becoming unpopular amongst the poor section of the society”.
For Narayan, Murthy capitalism is a tool towards the abolition of poverty in a country like India. Capitalism is what encourages entrepreneurship best and entrepreneurs to convert the power of an idea into wealth for themselves and others. And therefore, if we want more and more jobs to open then we need to embrace entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship develops best under capitalism.
When he reached Pune from France, he again met with Mr. Krishna who had opened a ‘System Research Institute’. It used Operation Research and mathematical modeling to address the problems of large scale public systems. He was very excited about it. Therefore, he went to Pune.
The desire to become an entrepreneur was still burning in Murthy, so he left the System Research Institute in 1975 and opened a company named ‘Softronics’ which was about developing application software for Indian Corporations.
But then he thought that the company was a little bit too advanced as the only computer producing company in India was ECIL i.e. Electronics Corporation of India Limited at that time. It was not making enough computers. He realized that it would be a structural problem in the market and therefore he closed Softronics within eight to nine months.
The three Patni brothers invited Narayan Murthy and offered the post of General Manager of the company. They had decided to represent digital computers in India. They also started a business to develop software for export in the United States. It was a great opportunity for him to learn.
He also had an opportunity to work with Brightingtis which was a group of 100 youngsters for PCS. They also sold digital computers in India and also developed applications based on digital computers for our clients in India.
In another words there were three aspects of business, selling the computers, exporting digital computers and finally developing applications for local customers. His main focus was on software and developing application software.
This serious veteran of Information technology has an interesting side as well.
Narayan Murthy says humorously in Pune Literature Festival that he spent 5 years in Pune and these 5 years are the best years as he was chasing a girl and “the men know how difficult it is as sometimes it becomes perilous and sometimes it is joyful’.
That girl was none other than his wife, Sudha Murthy.
Narayan Murthy met with Sudha Murthy through a common friend named Prasanna. Prasanna had a diary in which he used to write, ‘Narayan Murthy Istanbul, Narayan Murthy Paris, and Narayan Murthy France. Sudha Murthy asked Prasanna mockingly, “Who is this Narayan Murthy? Is he an international Bus conductor?’ Then Prasanna made him met both of them.
When Narayan Murthy saw Sudha for the first time, he describes Sudha as “She was extremely enthusiastic and full of energy. She was full of optimism, full of joy and full of pranks.”
Then, both of them started meeting daily. They used to go for dinner where Sudha used to pay the bills always. They used to go to movies, they used to walk long distances.
When Sudha Murthy's parents met Narayan Murthy, her father asked him about his future plans. Narayan Murthy told them that either he wants to join any political party or want to open an orphanage.Mr.R.H Kulkarni enraged at his answers and blown up the proposal of marriage to his daughter.
The next day, when they met, Narayan gathered all the courage to propose her and finally proposed to her that he wants to marry her sitting in the rickshaw holding her hand while going to dinner. Though Sudha Murthy didn’t reject his proposal but took time to ponder upon it.
And finally, Sudha Kulkarni changed her surname into Sudha Murthy on 10th February 1978.
The day Narayan Murthy met Sudha Murthy to till date, Sudha Murthy withstood beside him like a rock shattering all the clouds of Narayan Murthy. Sudha Murthy is a rainbow in Narayan Murthy’s life.
It was the capital of Rs 10,000 of Sudha Murthy which laid the genesis of Infosys. Sudha Murthy has paid the cost of the glory and fame of Infosys by sacrificing herself. She has sacrificed each and every dream and pleasure to make Infosys a successful endeavor. She left her service of an Engineer at Telco. She didn’t purchase a saree for 21 years. She brought up their two children alone for 13 years.
Narayan Murthy shares an episode that their daughter had to participate in a play at school, so she had to purchase a new dress for the play but Sudha Murthy denied her as they had not enough money to even buy a new frock.
The apple of Narayan Murthy’s eye; Sudha Murthy says about Narayan Murthy that “he is very strong but it is a woman who lends her hand to make him strong. Whenever he is down, she encourages him by saying don’t worry I will look after everything. She says contribution is more important than to be on the floor.”
When in a TV show, Mr.Murthy was asked to sing a song, he refused by saying that he sings only for Sudha Murthy.
The urge of Narayan Murthy to be an entrepreneur was still burning inside. After working for three years at Patni Computers, he had an intuition that if he wants to be successful he has to start now before approaching the age of 35.
So, just a few months before his 35th birthday, Infosys was born with lots of hopes and lots of dreams on 7th July 1981. Narayan Murthy informed his friends who worked at PCS with him that he is going to start a company named Infosys. They said that they want to work with him because they enjoy working together.
The six youngsters Nandan Nilkeni, S.Gopal Krishnan, S.D Shibulal, Dinesh, N.S Raghavan, and Ashok Arora along with Narayan Murthy began their quest and became the co-founders of Infosys.
Narayan Murthy describes Infosys as,
As Abraham Lincoln describes democracy, in the same trend he describes Infosys as “I want Infosys to be the first Indian company of Professionals, for the professionals and by the professionals.”
The Company was commenced with the savings of Rs 10,000 of Mrs. Sudha Murthy. The first room of Narayan Murthy’s house became the office of Infosys.
Before the liberalization of 1991, the establishment of business was an unfriendly and difficult task due to the paucity of resources and long procedures. Mr.Murthy waited to import a telephone for a year and two years for a computer. But Narayan Murthy never gave up on his dreams.
In 1983, Infosys shifted to Pune from Bangalore. Infosys was new in the Information Technology sector and they did not have any tie-up with U.S.So, they executed a joint venture with Kart Salmon Associates but it collapsed in 1989.
Infosys witnessed a major loss due to its disintegration with Karl Salmon Associates and the resignation of its co-founder Mr.Ashok Arora. Infosys again pulled down to the juncture of its starting-point. Its revenue decreased manifolds. Narayan Murthy and the co-founders minimized their expenditures to the minimal. They used to stay at cheap hotels, used to travel on foot than boarding any transportation.
Narayan Murthy conceptualized and implemented the GDM i.e. Global Delivery Model which has become the pillar of the Indian Software Industry. It was based on collaborative Distributed software development principles and proved a boon to the software industry. It delivered excellent software to global customers on time and within budget.
After the liberalization of 1991, the company flourished and accelerated at a very fast pace. In 1993, IPO remained undersubscribed the investment bank Morgan Stanley bailed out its IPO by purchasing its 13% stakes. The stock of Infosys opened with a 60% premium.
In 1993, when Infosys listed on the stock exchange, its revenue was 5 million dollars having 200 employees. In 1999, its revenue grew to 100 MN dollars, over 1 BN dollars in 2004 and reached to 10 Bn dollars in 2017. Then, Infosys grew by leaps and bounds and the rest is history. Infosys was the first Indian IT Company to be listed in NASDAQ.
Infosys has also pioneered ESOP i.e. employment stock options scheme.ESOP is a successful scheme of Infosys in which the employees of the company get the stocks and more than 1800 employees of Infosys have become Millionaire from the ESOP scheme.
Today, Infosys has more than 2 lakh employees and its market capitalization is more than three lakh crores. In 2018, the profit of Infosys was sixteen thousand crores. Infosys is the second-largest IT Company in India. It has more than 50 Development Centers and offices. Its headquarter is situated in Bangalore and its US headquarter lies in Fremont, California.
Infosys has opened a corporate university namely The Infosys Global Education center for the betterment of the education system in Mysore. It is spread in 337 acres. In 1996, Infosys started Infosys Foundation to provide healthcare and education services.
In 2000, Mr. Narayan Murthy is facilitated PADMA SHRI AWARD and PADMA VIBHUSHAN AWARD in 2008.
A family friend of Mr. Narayan Murthy, the famous economist Dr.Isharjudge Ahluwalia calls Infosys ‘the third child of Mr. Narayan Murthy.’
As a child is born and brought up with values, love, and care, so does Mr.Murthy also had brought up Infosys which with its tiny steps ran a marathon today.
And as the title suggests, you must have guessed that 1 thing which made Infosys the second largest IT Company. That one thing is nothing but a small word called ZEAL. It was the determination, diligence and devotion of Narayan Murthy which laid the foundation of Infosys and made Infosys India’s second largest IT Company.