Narayana Murthy, an ex-confused-Leftist

In a pre-commencement lecture at New York University, Narayanamurthy, Chairman of Infosys, gave a speech. In the beginning of his speech, he said this:

“After some thought, I have decided to share with you some of my life lessons. I learned these lessons in the context of my early career struggles, a life lived under the influence of sometimes unplanned events which were the crucibles that tempered my character and reshaped my future.”

Then he continues to tell the real story of how an iron-clad Communist country treated him in prison without food or water for over 72 hours over a mere speculation and how he was released because he is an Indian. Ah! So we are not surprised at a dictatorial Communist country treating him that way, but then he goes on to tell, “I always thank the Bulgarian guards for transforming me from a confused Leftist into a determined, compassionate capitalist! Inevitably, this sequence of events led to the eventual founding of Infosys in 1981.

A “confused Leftist” to a “compassionate Capitalist”. Read the quoted words. This speech of Murthy makes me think about my state of politics. For my “compassionate” politics which I would classify “Leftist” does not include Communists but Humanists. Or far away from the humanism that Communists talk about. And I wonder how the dictatorial Communist government of Bulgaria made this Leftist a Capitalist. And I wonder if he’s ever been a Leftist at all.

All my friends and acquaintances who work in Infosys tells me one thing. That their pay is not good enough to compare even to the start-up IT companies and their work schedule is hectic. Their work-life balance is terrible. Most of them work in Infosys for a brand name in their CVs and then bargain to get good positions in other companies so that they can keep a work-life balance and earn more than what they earn in Infy (Infy is now working to get the old Infians back in their fold). Infy – the company founded by this “ex-Leftist” and “now-compassionate-Capitalist” Mr. Narayana Murthy.

So what exactly did he mean by the term “Compassionate Capitalist”? That he found out the fruits of outsourcing business much earlier than other companies and built up a business empire? And obviously this hotshot market would create a lot of jobs so that he could bask in the glory of providing employment? That he was compassionate to build a brand name and get people to work for cheap because the out-of-the-campus freshers would like a brand name in their CVs, so they would sweat their blood out for a company founded by a “compassionate capitalist”?

You know what? I like the way this whole story was told by Narayana Murthy. He crafted that train journey story in a way that people would find it easy to connect with that of Mahatma Gandhi in his early days. No wonder how Murthy places himself as an icon of the youth of India – until they work in Infosys.