Lavanya Selvaraj's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Narayana Murthy & Sudha Murthy

 There are two photographs that hang on my office wall.

Every day when I enter my office I look at them before starting my day. They are pictures of two old people. One is of a gentleman in a blue suit and the other is a black and white image of a man with dreamy eyes and a white beard. People have often asked me if the people in the photographs are related to me.

Some have even asked me, “Is this black and white photo that of a Sufi saint or a religious Guru?”
I smile and reply “No, nor are they related to me. These people made an impact on my life. I am grateful to them.”

“Who are they?”

“The man in the blue suit is Bharat Ratna JRD Tata and the black and white photo is of Jamsetji Tata.”
“But why do you have them in your office?”” You can call it gratitude.”

Then, invariably, I have to tell the person the following story.

It was a long time ago. I was young and bright, bold and idealistic. I was in the final year of my Master’s course in Computer Science at  The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore, then known as the Tata Institute. Life was full of fun and joy. I did not know what helplessness or injustice meant.

It was probably the April of 1974. Bangalore was getting warm and gulmohars were blooming at the IISc campus. I was the only girl in my postgraduate department and was staying at the ladies’ hostel. Other girls were pursuing research in different departments of Science. I was looking forward to going abroad to complete a doctorate in computer science. I had been offered scholarships from Universities in the US. I had not thought of taking up a job in India.

One day, while on the way to my hostel from our lecture-hall complex, I saw an advertisement on the notice board. It was a standard job-requirement notice from the famous automobile
company Telco (now Tata Motors).

It stated that the company required young, bright engineers, hardworking and with an excellent academic background, etc.

At the bottom was a small line: “Lady Candidates need not apply.”

I read it and was very upset. For the first time in my life I was up against gender discrimination. Though I was not keen on taking up the job, I saw it as a challenge. I had done extremely well in academics, better than most of my male peers. Little did I know then that in real life academic excellence is not enough to be successful?

After reading the notice I went fuming to my room. I decided to inform the topmost person in Telco’s management about the injustice the company was perpetrating. I got a postcard and started to write, but there was a problem: I did not know who headed Telco. I thought it must be one of the Tatas.
I knew JRD Tata was the head of the Tata Group; I had seen his pictures in newspapers (actually, Sumant Moolgaokar was the company’s chairman then).

I took the card, addressed it to JRD and started writing. To this day I remember clearly what I wrote. “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, 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 on the basis of gender.”

I posted the letter and forgot about it. Less than 10 days later, I received a telegram stating that I had to appear for an interview at Telco’s Pune facility at the company’s expense. I was taken aback by the telegram.

My hostel mated told me I should use the opportunity to go to Pune free of cost and buy them the famous Pune saris for cheap! I collected Rs.30/- each from everyone who wanted a sari. When I look back, I feel like laughing at the reasons for my going, but back then they seemed good enough to make the trip.

It was my first visit to Pune and I immediately fell in love with the city. To this day it remains dear to me. I feel as much at home in Pune as I do in Hubli, my hometown. The place changed my life in so many ways.

As directed, I went to Telco’s Pimpri office for the interview. There were six people on the panel and I realized then that this was serious business. “This is the girl who wrote to JRD,” I heard somebody whisper as soon as I entered the room. By then I knew for sure that I would not get the job. The realization abolished all fear from my mind, so I was rather cool while the interview was being conducted. Even before the interview started, I reckoned the panel was biased, so I told them, rather impolitely, “I hope this is only a technical interview.” They were taken aback by my rudeness, and even today I am ashamed about my attitude.

The panel asked me technical questions and I answered all of them. Then an elderly gentleman with an affectionate voice told me, “Do you know why we said lady candidates need not apply? The reason is that we have never employed any ladies on the shop floor. This is not a co-ed college; this is a factory. When it comes to academics, you are a first ranker throughout. We appreciate that, but people like you should work in research laboratories.”

I was a young girl from small-town Hubli. My world had been a limited place. I did not know the ways of large corporate houses and their difficulties, so I answered, “But you must start somewhere, otherwise no woman will ever be able to work in your factories.”

Finally, after a long interview, I was told I had been successful. So this was what the future had in store for me. Never had I thought I would take up a job in Pune. I met a shy young man from Karnataka there, we became good friends and we got married.

It was only after joining Telco that I realised who JRD was: The uncrowned king of Indian industry. Now I was scared, but I did not get to meet him till I was transferred to Bombay. One day I had to show some
reports to Mr. Moolgaokar, our chairman, who we all knew as SM. I was in his office on the first floor of Bombay House (the Tata headquarters) when, suddenly JRD walked in. That was the first time I saw “appro JRD”.

Appro means “our” in Gujarati. This was the affectionate term by which people at Bombay House called him. I was feeling very nervous, remembering my postcard episode. SM introduced me nicely, “Jeh (that’s what his close associates called him), this young woman is an engineer and that too a postgraduate. She is the first woman to work on the Telco shop floor.” JRD looked at me. I was praying he would not ask me any questions about my interview (or the postcard that preceded it). Thankfully, he didn’t. Instead, he remarked.

“It is nice that girls are getting into engineering in our country. By the way, what is your name?”

“When I joined Telco I was Sudha Kulkarni, Sir,” I replied. “Now I am Sudha Murthy.”

 He smiled and kindly smile and started a discussion with SM. As for me, I almost ran out of the room.
After that I used to see JRD on and off. He was the Tata Group chairman and I was merely an engineer. There was nothing that we had in common. I was in awe of him. One day I was waiting for Murthy, my husband, to pick me up after office hours. To my surprise I saw JRD standing next to me. I did not know how to react. Yet again I started worrying about that postcard. Looking back,I realise JRD had forgotten about it. It must have been a small incident for him, but not so for me.

“Young lady, why are you here?” he asked.

 “Office time is over.” I said, “Sir, I’m waiting for my husband to come and pick me up.”

JRD said, “It is getting dark and there’s no one in the corridor. I’ll wait with you till your husband comes.”

I was quite used to waiting for Murthy, but having JRD waiting alongside made me extremely uncomfortable.

I was nervous. Out of the corner of my eye I looked at him. He wore a simple white pant and shirt. He was old, yet his face was glowing. There wasn’t any air of superiority about him. I was thinking, “Look at
this person. He is a chairman, a well-respected man in our country and he is waiting for the sake of an ordinary employee.”

Then I saw Murthy and I rushed out. JRD called and said, “Young lady, tell your husband never to make his wife wait again.”

In 1982, I had to resign from my job at Telco. I was reluctant to go, but I really did not have a choice. I was coming down the steps of Bombay House after wrapping up my final settlement when I saw JRD coming up. He was absorbed in thought. I wanted to say goodbye to him, so I stopped. He saw me and paused.

Gently, he said, “So what are you doing, Mrs Kulkarni?” (That was the way he always addressed me.)

“Sir, I am leaving Telco.”

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Pune, Sir.  My husband is starting a company called Infosys and I’m shifting to Pune.”

“Oh! And what will you do when you are successful.”

“Sir, I don’t know whether we will be successful.”

“Never start with diffidence,” he advised me. “Always start with confidence. When you are successful you must give back to society. Society gives us so much; we must reciprocate. I wish you all the best.”

Then JRD continued walking up the stairs. I stood there for what seemed like a millennium. That was the last time I saw him alive.

Many years later I met Ratan Tata in the same Bombay House, occupying the chair JRD once did.
I told him of my many sweet memories of working with Telco. Later, he wrote to me, “It was nice hearing about Jeh from you. The sad part is that he’s not alive to see you today.”

I consider JRD a great man because, despite being an extremely busy person, he valued one postcard written by a young girl seeking justice. He must have received thousands of letters every day.
He could have thrown mine away, but he didn’t do that

.
He respected the intentions of that unknown girl, who had neither influence nor money, and gave her an opportunity in his company. He did not merely give her a job; he changed her life and mindset forever.

Close to 50 per cent of the students in today’s engineering colleges are girls. And there are women on the shop floor in many industry segments. I see these changes and I think of JRD. If at all time stops and asks me what I want from life, I would say I wish JRD were alive today to see how the company we started has grown. He would have enjoyed it wholeheartedly.

Sudha Kulkarni Murthy, wife of the software genius and industrialist N.R. Narayana Murthy, is also the sister of the popular astrophysicist, Shrinivas Kulkarni. She is best known for her social work and her plethora of stories.  

Her Initial Days and Early Career

In her early days, Sudha Murty was a computer scientist and an engineer. She was born in the year 1950 in the district of Shiggaon in Karnataka.

Sudha Murty scored the highest marks in SSLC (Xth grade) in 1966 from New Education Society Girls English School, Hubli .

Sudha Murthy did her engineering degree from BVB College of Engineering in Hubli. Placed as a topper in the state of Karnataka, she went on to get a medal from the CM for her accomplishment. After completing her Masters in the subject of Computer Science from IISc, Bangalore, she repeated her feat and topped her class, to receive yet another medal from the Engineers Institute.

Sudha was the first computer engineer employed by the company Tata Motors. She also initiated a bold move to introduce computer and library facilities in all schools in Karnataka. She taught computer science and started writing fiction with her first book ‘Dollar Sose’. This book was written in Kannada and later translated to English, and it was even converted into a television serial in 2001 titled ‘Dollar Bahu’.

Career

    • Worked at TELCO as a Development Engineer in Pune, Mumbai and Jamshedpur and later joined Walchand Group of Industries at Pune as Senior Systems Analyst.
    • Involved in the development of Infosys Technologies Ltd., in various capacities & worked as HoD for Computer Science in a reputed college of Bangalore University
    • In 1996, started Infosys Foundation & till date has been the Trustee of Infosys Foundation & a Visiting Professor at the PG Center of a reputed college of Bangalore University
    • Written and published 13 books – out of which, two are travellogues, two technical books, six novels and three educative books.

Awards To Name A Few

    • Gold Medal from the Indian Institute of Engineers, India for having secured the I Rank in MTech of all the branches of Engineering
    • Silver Medal from the then Chief Minister of Karnataka Sri Devaraj Urs, for securing the highest marks in BE of all the Universities of Engineering in Karnataka
    • Cash award for having secured the highest marks in SSLC
    • C S Desai Prize for standing first in the University Exams of Karnataka
    • Youth Service Department Prize from Government of Karnataka, for having been the outstanding engineering student of Karnataka
    • Best Teacher Award in 1995 from the Rotary Club of Bangalore
    • National Award from Public Relation Society of India for outstanding Social Service to the Society
    • ‘Attimabbe’ award for her technical book in Kannada (Shalae Makale Gagi Computer – meaning computers for school children)
    • Award for Excellent Social Service by Rotary South – Hubli
    • ‘Karnataka Rajyotsava’ State Award for the year 2000, for achievement in the field of literature and social work
    • ‘Ojaswini’ award for excellent social worker for the year 2000
    • ‘Millenium Mahila Shiromani’ award
    • Voted as Woman of the Year by RadioCity [Bangalore FM station] on International Women’s Day [2002]
    • Raja-Lakshmi Award 2004 in recognition of her contribution to social work.

Sudha Murthy and Her Books

Being a fiction writer as well, Sudha Murthy has written quite a few stories, which have mostly been released by the renowned publisher Penguin Books. These stories generally have a theme of general and common life in India, and her ideas regarding donation, realisation and hospitality. Some famous stories written by her include:

  • How I Taught My Grandmother To Read
  • Old Man and His God
  • Gently Falls The Bakula
  • The Accolades Galore

In November 2004, Sudha Murty was awarded the Raja-Lakshmi Award by the Sri Raja-Lakshmi Foundation (based in Chennai) for her exemplary efforts in contributing to the society. In the year 2006, she was given the prestigious Padma Shri award, an award of great honour from the Indian Government and she also went on to receive a doctorate from the Sathyabama University in Chennai . Her stories have also been converted to Assamese by Anjan Sharma.  

Her Personal Life

The couple, Sudha and Narayana Murthy are blessed with two kids, Akshata and Rohan. Her daughter Akshata married Rishi Sunak, her batch mate from Stanford. Akshata was previously working at a firm dealing in venture capital, Siderian Ventures, and Rishi is a British citizen with Indian roots. He partners a hedge-fund involved in charity in the UK.

I have never seen such a woman, who have dare to act against injustice when normally women accept the things as they are………Sudha comes across as a teacher, engineer, writer, philanthropist, Mother, Home maker and corporate—all rolled into one…………..

I also admire Mrs. Sudha Murthy for handling different roles efficiently and have million dollar question, How she learned to fit into different shoes ?????????

The essence of success in every role has been universal, says Sudha. ‘‘Whatever you do, do it to your best.” At every job, my motto has been the same—to be honest and sincere to your profession when you are a subordinate and when you are boss, be professional but care for your subordinates. As a mother, be there when your children are home and you are needed.’’   

Only after reading about Sudha Murthy, I learnt Women have that extra quality of adaptability…………

WISH YOU ALL VERY HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY…………

Article sourced from:  Lasting Legacies

(Tata Review- Special Commemorative Issue 2004), brought out by the house of Tatas to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of JRD Tata on July 29, 2004.

http://www.tata.com/aboutus/articles

Advertisements

Mail sent by Narayan Murthy to all Infosys staff

« on: March 28, 2008, 09:00:14 AM »


LEAVE ON TIME!!!

It’s half past 8 in the office but the lights are still on…
PCs still running, coffee machines still buzzing…
And who’s at work? Most of them  Take a closer look…
All or most specimens are???
Something male species of the human race…
Look closer… again all or most of them are bachelors…
And why are they sitting late? Working hard? No way!!!
Any guesses???
Let’s ask one of them…
Here’s what he says… “What’s there 2 do after going home…Here we get to surf, AC, phone, food, coffee that is why I am working late…Importantly no bossssssss!!!!!!!!!!!”
This is the scene in most research centers and software companies and other off-shore offices.
Bachelors “Time-passing” during late hours in the office just because they say they’ve nothing else to do…
Now what r the consequences…
“Working” (for the record only) late hours soon becomes part of the institute or company culture.
With bosses more than eager to provide support to those “working” late in the form of taxi vouchers, food vouchers and of course good feedback, (oh, he’s a hard worker… goes home only to change..!!).
They aren’t helping things too…
To hell with bosses who don’t understand the difference between “sitting” late and “working” late!!!
Very soon, the boss starts expecting all employees to put in extra working hours.
So, My dear Bachelors let me tell you, life changes when u get married and start having a family…. office is no longer a priority, family is… and That’s when the problem starts… b’coz u start having commitments at home too. For your boss, the earlier “hardworking” guy suddenly seems to become a “early leaver” even if u leave an hour after regular time… after doing the same amount of work.
People leaving on time after doing their tasks for the day are labeled as work-shirkers…
Girls who thankfully always (its changing nowadays… though) leave on time are labeled as “not up to it”. All the while, the bachelors pat their own backs and carry on “working” not realizing that they r spoiling the work culture at their own place and never realize that they would have to regret at one point of time.
*So what’s the moral of the story?? *
* Very clear, LEAVE ON TIME!!!
* Never put in extra time ” *unless really needed *”
* Don’t stay back un-necessarily and spoil your company work culture which will in turn cause inconvenience to you and your colleagues.
There are hundred other things to do in the evening…
Learn music…
Learn a foreign language…
Try a sport… TT, cricket………

* And for heaven’s sake net cafe rates have dropped to an all-time low (plus, no fire-walls) and try cooking for a change.
Take a tip from the Smirnoff ad: *”Life’s calling, where are you??”*
Please pass on this message to all those colleagues And please do it before leaving time, don’t stay back till midnight to forward this!!!
IT’S A TYPICAL INDIAN MENTALITY THAT WORKING FOR LONG HOURS MEANS VERY HARD WORKING & 100% COMMITMENT ETC…
PEOPLE WHO REGULARLY SIT LATE IN THE OFFICE DONT KNOW TO MANAGE THEIR TIME. SIMPLE!

I got this Information by mail…….After reading it, I was inspired by Mr. Murthy’s word and realized the fact behind it. I hope the readers will also have the same feeling……. 🙂

Bachelors, be aware that Clever Team Lead’s will definitely realize the hard workers even if you stay in office for the whole day……. 🙂

Made For Each Other

It was in Pune that I met Narayan Murty through my friend Prasanna who is now the Wipro chief, who was also training in Telco (TataMotors). Most of the books that Prasanna lent me had Murty’s name on them which meant that I had a preconceived image of the man. Contrary to expectation, Murty was shy, bespectacled and an introvert. When he invited us for dinner, I was a bit taken aback as I thought the young man was making a very fast move. I refused since I was the only girl in the group. But Murty was relentless and we all decided to meet for dinner the next day at 7.30p.m. at Green Fields hotel on the Main Road, Pune.

The next day I went there at 7 o’ clock since I had to go to the tailor near the hotel. And what do I see? Mr. Murty waiting in front of the hotel and it was only seven. Till today, Murty maintains that I had mentioned (consciously! ) that I would be going to the tailor at 7 so that I could meet him…And I maintain that I did not say any such thing consciously or unconsciously because I did not think of Murty as anything other than a friend at that stage. We have agreed to disagree on this matter.

Soon, we became friends. Our conversations were filled with Murty’s experiences abroad and the books that he has read. My friends insisted that Murty as trying to impress me because he was interested in me. I kept denying it till one fine day, after dinner Murty said, I want to tell you something. I knew this as it. It was coming. He said, I am 5′4″ tall. I come from a lower middle class family. I can never become rich in my life and I can never give you any riches. You are beautiful, bright, and intelligent and you can get anyone you want. But will you marry me? I asked Murty to give me some time for an answer. My father didn’t want me to marry a wannabe politician, (a communist at that) who didn’t have a steady job and wanted to build an orphanage…

When I went to Hubli I told my parents about Murty and his proposal. My mother was positive since Murty was also from Karnataka, seemed intelligent and comes from a good family. But my father asked: What’s his job, his salary, his qualifications etc? Murty was working as a research assistant and was earning less than me. He was willing to go dutch
with me on our outings. My parents agreed to meet Murty in Pune on a particular day at 10 a. m sharp. Murty did not turn up. How can I trust a man to take care of my daughter if he cannot keep an appointment, asked my father.

At 12noon Murty turned up in a bright red shirt! He had gone on work to Bombay, was stuck in a traffic jam on the ghats, so he hired a taxi (though it was very expensive for him) to meet his would-be father-in-law. Father was unimpressed. My father asked him what he wanted to become in life.

Murty said he wanted to become a politician in the communist party and wanted to open an orphanage. My father gave his verdict. NO. I don’t want my daughter to marry somebody who wants to become a communist and then open an orphanage when he himself didn’t have money to support his family.

Ironically, today, I have opened many orphanages something, which Murty wanted to do 25 years ago. By this time I realized I had developed a liking towards Murty which could only be termed as love. I wanted to marry Murty because he is an honest man. He proposed to me highlighting the negatives in his life. I promised my father that I will not marry Murty without his blessings though at the same time, I cannot marry anybody else. My father said he would agree if Murty promised to take up a steady job. But Murty refused saying he will not do things in life because somebody wanted him to. So, I was caught between the two most important people in my life.

The stalemate continued for three years during which our courtship took us to every restaurant and cinema hall in Pune. In those days, Murty was always broke. Moreover, he didn’t earn much to manage. Ironically today, he manages Infosys Technologies Ltd., one of the world’s most reputed companies. He always owed me money. We used to go for
dinner and he would say, I don’t have money with me, you pay my share and I will return it to you later. For three years I maintained a book on Murty’s debt to me. No, he never returned the money and I finally tore it up after my wedding.

The amount was a little over Rs 4000. During this interim period Murty quit his job as research assistant and started his own software business. Now, I had to pay his salary too! Towards the late 70s computers were entering India in a big way. During the fag end of 1977 Murty decided to take up a job as General Manager at Patni Computers in
Bombay. But before he joined the company he wanted to marry me since he was to go on training to the US after joining. My father gave in as he was happy Murty had a decent job, now.

WE WERE MARRIED IN MURTY’S HOUSE IN BANGALORE ON FEBRUARY 10, 1978 WITH ONLY OUR TWO FAMILIES PRESENT. I GOT MY FIRST SILK SARI. THE WEDDING EXPENSES CAME TO ONLY RS 800 (US $17) WITH MURTY AND I POOLING IN RS.400 EACH.

I went to the US with Murty after marriage. Murty encouraged me to see America on my own because I loved travelling. I toured America for three months on backpack and had interesting experiences which will remain fresh in my mind forever. Like the time when the New York police took me into custody because they thought I was an Italian,
trafficking drugs in Harlem. Or the time when I spent the night at the bottom of the Grand Canyon with an old couple. Murty panicked because he couldn’t get a response from my hotel room even at midnight. He thought I was either killed or kidnapped.

IN 1981 MURTY WANTED TO START INFOSYS. HE HAD A VISION AND ZERO CAPITAL…initially I was very apprehensive about Murty getting into business. We did not have any business background. Moreover we were living a comfortable life in Bombay with a regular pay check and I didn’t want to rock the boat. But Murty was passionate
about creating good quality software. I decided to support him. Typical of Murty, he just had a dream and no money. So I gave him Rs 10,000 which I had saved for a rainy day, without his knowledge and told him, this is all I have. Take it. I give you three years sabbatical leave. I will take care of the financial needs of our house. You go and chase
your dreams without any worry. But you have only three years!

Murty and his six colleagues started Infosys in 1981, with normous interest and hard work. In 1982 I left Telco and moved to Pune with Murty. We bought a small house on loan which also became the Infosys office. I was a clerk-cum-cook- cumprogrammer. I also took up a job as Senior Systems Analyst with Walchand group of Industries to support the house.

In 1983 Infosys got their first client, MICO, in Bangalore. Murty moved to Bangalore and stayed with his mother while I went to Hubli to deliver my second child, Rohan. Ten days after my son was b! orn, Murty left for the US on project work. I saw him only after a year, as I was unable to join Murty in the US because my son had infantile eczema, an allergy to vaccinations. So for more than a year I did not step outside our home for fear of my son contracting an infection. It was only after Rohan got all his vaccinations that I came to Bangalore where we rented a small house in Jayanagar and rented another house as Infosys headquarters. My father presented Murty a scooter to commute. I once again became a cook, programmer, clerk, secretary, office assistant etal. Nandan Nilekani (MD of Infosys) and his wife Rohini stayed with us. While Rohini babysat my son, I wrote programs for Infosys. There was no car, no phone, and just two kids and a bunch of us working hard, juggling our lives and having fun while Infosys was taking shape. It was not only me but also the wives of other partners too who gave their unstinted support. We all knew that our men were trying to build something good.

It was like a big joint family,taking care and looking out for one another. I still remember Sudha Gopalakrishna looking after my daughter Akshata with all care and love while Kumari Shibulal cooked for all of us. Murty made it very clear that it would either be me or him working at Infosys. Never the two of us together… I was involved with Infosys initially.

Nandan Nilekani suggested I should be on the Board but Murty said he did not want a husband and wife team at Infosys. I was shocked since I had the relevant experience and technical qualifications. He said, Sudha if you want to work with Infosys, I will withdraw, happily. I was pained to know that I will not be involved in the company my husband was building and that I would have to give up a job that I am qualified to do and love doing.

It took me a couple of days to grasp the reason behind Murty’s request. I realized that to make Infosys a success one had to give one’s 100 percent. One had to be focussed on it alone with no other distractions. If the two of us had to give 100 percent to Infosys then what would happen to our home and our children? One of us had to take care of our home while the other took care of Infosys.

I opted to be a homemaker, after all Infosys was Murty’s dream. It was a big sacrifice but it was one that had to be made. Even today, Murty says, Sudha, I stepped on your career to make mine. You are responsible for my success.
Great, isn’t it? …. That’s the Power of Love.


KEEP ON TRYING.....

All Date is always ripe to do Good

December 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Blog Stats

  • 38,106 hits

Twitter Tweets

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Top Rated