N.R. Narayana Murthy The Father of the Indian IT Sector

N.R. Narayana Murthy: The Father of the Indian IT Sector

Success Stories

Narayana Murthy is a legendary name in India; he is an Indian businessman who understood the potential in the technology domain and built the tech giant Infosys back in 1981 in India. Mr Murthy is also regarded as the father of the Indian IT sector, as he founded Infosys with six other software professionals in an era when technology wasn’t a common word and when many places in India were struggling for electricity. He had a vision of forming a multinational information technology company in India that would provide various services, and he succeeded in that. He took retirement in 2011; after nearly three decades of service at Infosys.

Murthy’s entrepreneurial journey was full of hard work, dedication, and passion. He had his share of struggles in the journey; however, despite many setbacks and turning points, it was his resilience that stopped him from giving up, and Infosys sailed through the difficulties and has a current market capitalisation of much more than $100 billion.

Along with his multinational business, Narayana and his wife Sudha Murty’s philanthropic effort show their dedication towards society. Through the Infosys Foundation, they put smiles on millions of faces by impacting their lives and contributing to education, women’s empowerment, healthcare, rural development, and more.

Early Life and Education

Mr Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy was born on August 20, 1946, in Sidlaghatta, Karnataka, into a middle-class family where hard work and values were given priority. His father was a high school teacher. Mr Murthy had seven siblings.

He attended a government school, and later, his interest in technology and electronics led him to pursue a bachelor of engineering degree in the electrical domain from the National Institute of Engineering, Mysore, in 1967. Afterwards, he completed a Master of Technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, in 1969.

He then started his career at IIM (Indian Institute of Management), Ahmedabad, as a chief system programmer.

The Fire for Entrepreneurship in Narayana Murthy

It all started when Mr Murthy encountered a strange incident in 1974, which transformed his beliefs and ignited a fire to pursue entrepreneurship. During an interview at IIT Bombay, he recounted a time when he endured three days of imprisonment in what was then Yugoslavia without sustenance. While travelling on a train, he had attempted to engage his fellow passengers, a boy and a girl, in a conversation about life in Bulgaria. The girl knew French and indulged in conversation, whereas the boy with her called the police, and The Bulgarian authorities imprisoned Mr. Murthy for three days in a small cell measuring 8 by 8 feet, without providing any food. They accused him of criticising the communist Bulgarian government. Following his release, the authorities claimed that they let him go because he was a citizen of India, a friendly country.

The incident struck a thought in his mind: if a country is treating a friendly country’s citizens like this, then he doesn’t want to be part of a communist country ever again.

This pushed Mr Murthy to embark on the entrepreneurial journey, and even though his father was against it, he launched his first venture, Softronics. The company didn’t do well and failed after one and a half years.

This disappointed Murthy, and he had to take a job as a general manager at Patni Computer Systems. Later, he married Sudha Murthy. However, a fire to start his venture was still suppressed in his heart, which didn’t go unnoticed by his wife.

Sudha Murthy gave him ten thousand rupees to start a new venture, along with some time to explore the market. By this time, Sudha had taken the whole responsibility of the household on her shoulders and even assisted Mr Murthy in his search.

The Birth of Infosys

Infosys by Narayana Murthy

Narayana Murthy incepted Infosys, along with N. S. Raghavan, Nandan Nilekani, S. Gopalakrishnan, S. D. Shibulal, K. Dinesh, and Ashok Arora. The company began working in the front room of Murthy’s apartment, and Sudha Murthy became their assistant, cook, and helper while doing a full-time job.

In 1981, Infosys Consultants registered the company. The team faced tough and uncertain early days, but they persevered, seeing challenges as opportunities for growth and never giving up.

The major turning point for Infosys didn’t come when it formed a joint venture with Kurt Salmon Associates (KSA), but when the joint venture didn’t work and collapsed in 1989. It put the team in an unfortunate dilemma about whether they should get out if things get worse in the future. And that is when Ashok Arora, one of the partners, sold his stake and exited the company.

It was enough with failures; now was the time to reap the fruit of hard work. They saw an opportunity with Data Basic Corporation, and the company started working for the US market. And eventually, they again formed a joint venture with KSA. There’s no going back then; it went public in 1993 and took off.

Today, Infosys is one of the leading IT companies in the world, having its roots in India and Branches worldwide. It is listed on the BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange) and the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange).

Mr Murthy served as the CEO of Infosys from 1981 to 2001 and as a Chairman from 2002 to 2011 before his retirement.

The Philanthropist Roles of Narayana Murthy

Narayana Murthy not only impacted the IT sector in India but also contributed to society through Infosys Foundation. He also holds positions on various boards, such as the Ford Foundation, the UN Foundation, and the Indo-British Partnership. His role as a trustee for the Infosys Prize and the Rhodes Trust further highlights his willingness to contribute to society. Moreover, he is the Chairman of the governing board of the Public Health Foundation of India, demonstrating his commitment to public service. TIME magazine named him one of the Asian heroes who have made significant changes in Asia over the past 60 years, recognising his contributions.

Awards and Honours

His contribution to both society and the IT sector earned him numerous awards. Some of the awards include:

  • Padma Shri (India)
  • Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (United Kingdom)
  • Officer of the Legion of Honor (France)
  • Padma Vibhushan (India)
  • Philanthropist of the Year (The Asian Awards)

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