Let him not reach for the moon!
Let him walk on the M.G.Road!

N.R.Narayanamurthy

Mr.N.R.Narayanamurthy, the Infosys founder and the IT industry icon is justly lauded for his great achievements. He had in a way, transformed India single-handedly and as such he deserves a Bharat Ratna.

If  he had not been so honoured so far, it only shows how politics works in this country and how even men and women entrusted with great responsibilities fail in not rising up to their full potential.
In fact, we wrote to the then President Abdul Kalam, more than once to confer the highest award on Indians who have contributed to enhance the quality of life in the country. For some strange reasons, we neither saw any action nor heard from him! Our countrymen and women don’t realise that power and glory are short-lived!

Now, for Narayanamurthy. In a recent interview in an economic newspaper, full page, he has said several things that are already well-known and he had said it and again here he has repeated. Nothing wrong.

But here we like to make some comments and also some suggestions in view of his standing in the corporate world and also in the public eye.

First, he says and also seems to be repeating that ethics for him comes first and foremost before profit. Admirable! But for a person who has such a reputation and who is now almost seem to have withdrawn from day to day running of such a big enterprise and also who is now talking like an elder statesman of the industry as well as the country to say that ethics comes before profit, he seems to be sending out the message that it is only Infosys is doing this and not others.

To talk of ethics in business is rare and for a man of his stature to talk so, so often seems to give the impression that only Infosys is doing it at its best. For he also seems to  say that his only preoccupation even now, after he ceased to be the executive Chairman and also after Nandan Nilekani had done so and when a new man is now in charge is to say that his interest continues in Infosys and this is not wrong. But to say that he when he is still continuing to promote the brand of Infosys, he travels 20 days abroad just to talk about Infosys, he says so openly and also with emphasis his only interest even now is to promote the Infosys brand and in such a context to emphasise ethics before profits leaves some uncomfortable feeling.

The feeling arises from the thought that he should be knowing only too well, as he was once a Socialist (also a Communist or Communist sympathiser as well?)He must be only too sensitive to the public perception that no private sector, we mean, Capitalism can’t be free of the charge of “exploitation’s and also free of some “unethical” practices, call it business strategy or whatever name you prefer to call it, there is this basic and inherent contradiction between Capitalism and profit making.

So, readers and admirers of Murthy, more so the industry veterans and the general public and the elite class, the intellectuals would be only too embarrassed to hear from Murthy such a simplistic version of he puts ethics before   profit. Does this also not mean that others like TCS, Wipro or others, even for that matter, the smallest grocer at the corner shop doesn’t put ethics before profit?
We are sure Murthy, given his stature and his age and his present preoccupations as a roving ambassador at large must give more time and energy to do some more in-depth study of the bigger issues involved here and come out with more intellectually convincing account of this particular issue. Even the might Microsoft is caught up with the anti-trust battles where it stands exposed of its many “unethical” practices!

Second, it is not far from ethics to equity. He must be really concerned about the day to day happenings and the larger picture of India s a political and economic power. He must, in particular, surely be interested in the politics and the government. He has nowhere seems to have said about his interest or views except to say he is not interested in holding any high office like the President or Prime Minister! Why not? If it is in you, in your genes, you will surely make it. See Abdul Kalam and Manmohan Singh!

The pity in India we don’t seem to have men and women of education and competence who also have the moral courage to express their political views, not necessarily the controversial views, but even the larger picture, the larger articulations are not forthcoming.
With the result we have a situation today when we don’t know what are the political beliefs of Kalam or Dr.Singh? Are they leftists or rightists? Are they Marxists or Socialists or plain democrats or democratic socialists or liberals? No way to know. This is the tragedy!

India had been a 1000-year slave country.400 years of British colonialism sapped our vitalities. With the result we lost our freedoms, even now we are free only formally, not in the full-blown sense. We don’t have really any opinions. ‘Sub chalta hai’!

This men like Murthy help to change. This colonial hangup. We should become a modern liberal state. We must cultivate individual freedom as our new religion. Our secularism must become more robust and impact the entire social changes.
Mr.Murthy must surely express his views for the benefit of the common man. After all, democracy is all about the common man’s wisdom, isnt it so?

So, Murthy must say what he believes in. He must be a patriot and a nationalist. Yes, we are all internationalists today. Yet, we must all contribute to shape India as a modern, secular and well integrated harmonious social fabric. Liberalism, individual liberty and a state-regulated private sector economy are should be our priorities.

He can initiative some high level national dialouges, he can institute funds towards that end.
We like Murthy to stand up and articulate his views. He must have a view for instance on the Indo-nuclear deal! Why he doesn’t think of coming updated with his views?

Third, Murthy says that he has no plans after his “retirement”! This is surprising from a man who talks so much and who seems to have so much to say and do. He seems to take it as a great work to be on the boards of the companies and institutions and also he takes pride in taking up a semester of teaching at Stanford University.

Yes, these are worthy tasks no doubt. But given his larger than life image, his countrymen and women expect larger things from him.

Why go to America to teach? Why not teach here in India? In Mysore or better in Bangalore itself? Be a mentor not in Infosys. But in outside as a public figure.

Appear once a while on the TV screen and be a mentor to the nation, the vast millions of people. Give them hope with your ideas and institutions and other initiatives. He must travel inside India, reach out to the poor, tribal hamlets, and bring light and life to these sections. Like Bill Gates come out with some fantastic social commitment, like total vaccinisation, interact with men like Dr.Devi Shetty. Let us all be inspired by your role model as a first citizen setting new agendas and new aspiration levels!

Fourth, he seems to be taking pleasure, nothing wrong, in small things, reading the prefaces of the vast collection of his books or buying gadgets etc. Murthy should not seem to be just materialistic man, may be this is a pose, we are not sure. Or, his PR inputs make him look so informal or simplistic. The Yankee culture, the Yankee jargon may be for good business practices but surely India is a traditional country. We need much action to change even the spiritualist pretensions, the many superstitions and also to come out with a national culture, a new set of etiquette and manners for the younger generation. He must become a bit more gravitas!

Why not quote from a book he read that day? If he had said something from the latest, say, Dev Aanad’s Autobiograpy, something else, the readers would have benefited. What is the point of saying I have so many shelves of volumes and I must have read the first few lines at least?
Fifth and finally..

Mr.Murthy must surely has great things to do and do that in the interest of the larger causes. He talks of his charities and social causes. Please spell out them so that we would all be inspired.
We can even give him an agenda of action!

He has triggered the Bangalore’s transformation as the Silicon Valley. Now, it is turning out to be a heaven as well as hell! He could revive the Bangalore Agenda Taskforce and in-induct Nandan Nilekani and as an unofficial or official initiative make it a think-tank and come out with ideas to turn Bangalore into a model urban living space.

Start or help start a series of rural networks so that the IT benefits like e-governance reaches the mass of people. There can be any number of new initiatives.

We only request Murthy to become more active, in a more number of causes and public initiatives. With his management expertise, we are sure; Murthy has a lot more to contribute to transform India into a unique democratic nation with lots of inner vitality to be a force in international affairs. In short, let Murthy give a pause for his obsession with Infosys. Let him become obsessed with the greater Indian picture! Who knows that he may still rise up and end up as the President of India! That will only bring more good to the country. That is our wish!

Image Source : specials.rediff.com

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