Collections of Dilip Prakash

Infosys Narayana Murthy’s wife Sudha Murthy’s Experience

Posted on: May 23, 2008

THERE are two photographs that hang on my office wall.
Everyday 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, hardworkingand 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 forcheap!
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 realised 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 realisation 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 lboratories.”
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
meethim 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 BombayHouse 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.
Iwas 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 incidentfor 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. Hesaw 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 everyday.
He could have thrown mine away, but he didn’t do that.
He respected the intentions of thatunknown 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 collegesare
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.

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45 Responses to "Infosys Narayana Murthy’s wife Sudha Murthy’s Experience"

I am in Bangalore and read all the news that is published in news papers on infosis and also NM & SM,wish we had few more persons in bangalore like NM & SM.Wish I could invite them for a cup of coffee.I am 74 and time is short.

I met NRN and Sudha Murthy at a conference in London. When I say met, I only listened. I wanted to shake NRN’s hands one time in my life. But I missed that opportunity because he was already leaving by the time I went down. I wish I could have mustered the courage to shake his hands as he got into the car. I am going to live all the remaining years of my entire life feeling dissapointed at not shaking his hands.

DEAR SIR,

I am writing this with a shame and little hesitation.After a long thinking I finally decided to write to you and you may be able to help to overcome my crisis.

I am Rameshkumar.p,my native place is Kannur,KERALA,INDIA.

I was born in a family of very good education and culture.My parents were teachers.I was also a very good student and passed M.Sc Maths with good first class.After that I did some research work in Maths for a Ph.D degree and at that time i was selected for NBHM Research Award and also C.S.I.R Senior research Fellowship.After 4 years research i joined as Lecturer in Maths at a Polytechinc College in Kerala.I couldn’t complete my Ph.D degree during these period.

I had lot of interest in many things in my life .Mentally I am very energetic and bold .Share market trading makes me a lot of debts and tried my best to recover the loss.But somehow I slowly fallen into debt trap and i tried many ways to escape from this.Some properties sold and still loan with high interest pending.Around Rs.10 lakhs still i have debts and for that monthly paying rs.50000 to rs.60000 as interest which is increasing day by day.(rs.5000 to rs.6000 interest for 1lakh)I have monthly salary of rs.30000 and i can pay the amount if there is no interst.

I couldn’t say all these problems to my family as these makes other problems in family life also.In connection with these lot of problems occured in my family life and still my family life going smoothly.I do not like to share these financil crisis to my wife as it make her more trouble.So I am trying to find a solution to solve these crisis by myself.

I wish to seek your help and advise .One thing i can assure that i can pay the amount if there is no interst or with lowest interest.Still I can pay rs.20000 monthly for any loan that you can help me.MY ACCOUNT DETAILS:RAMESHKUMAR.P, ACCOUNT NUMBER:626501055696,I.C.I.C.I BANK,CALICUT ,KERALA.IFSC CODE:ICIC0006265

Expecting your urgent help and advise,

Thanking you,

P.RAMESHKUMAR

Call me in 09242212732 (Radhakrishna)

announcer says : I absolutely agree with this !

[...] பதிந்தவர் The Visitor மேல் ஜூன் 14, 2008 Today I was searching for Sudha Murthy to locate her contact details, when I came across this blog post that kind of touched me. Probably many people have heard the story before, but here it is again: Infosys Narayana Murthy’s wife Sudha Murthy’s Experience [...]

Hi.. thanks for the post.. nice one.. do you bother if i borrow ur post for my blog( i shall put it in your name below it) i really love Narayan Moorthy and i am can take my eyes out of this article..!

please give me sudha murti’s address
i want write a letter to sudha murti

I’ve read SM’s experience in Bombay House so many times now. Today I read it again, and believe me, on every ocassion tears rolled down. I wish I could see SM at least once in my life time. Just to say, that I am visiting Bangalore next week.

Hi
very nice experince from SM.
but y infosys is not allowed the candidate who are not getting above 60% or 70% throughtout their academic (for freshers)
above these criteria all r not very brilliant .. and below this criteria all are not worst.

I do agree wiyh Mr Arunchand’s opinion.There are so many students who are very brilliant but not having 60% throughtout their academics.Byhearting students can score high marks aslo.So please conider our comment.

hi mam
by hearing the above incident i was inspired and realised that selfconfidence is the only thing which forward a person to step in to their goals

please give me sudha murti’s address &phone no.

I had read mam’s all books so many times…. ‘Wise & Otherwise@ is my most favourite.

due to some reason i want mail ids of either Sir or Sudha mam……kidly give me if you can….

thank you

Hi,

i am Shivakumargouda.Patil from Mundargi, Gadag dist. todays Prajavani News paper i red about Sir Narayan murthy is going to help for young Entrepreneur, I am going to Open BPO in our native place so i need you help(Moral support) plz give me contact no ASAP.

I have go through Mrs. Sudha Murthy’s biography and working on charitable institutons too. I want to do some contribution personally in her charitable work too. Pleae give me her ph no. and e-mail id if anybody knows.

I would like to contact Smt Sudha Murthy in regards to a seminar later this year. I’d greatly appreciate if anyone you has her email id or contact details could please email the same to me.

I am so proud that I worked with Infosys:) A very nice article. Yes we miss JRD.

Infosys Chairman NR Narayanamurthy seldom did his best. He became the best by not doing his best.

This is the secret of his success.

NVSN Murthy, Scientist and a temporary visitor on earth currently passing through Indian soil.

Hiring risks:

Qualification seldom qualifies anyone for employment, percentage of marks does not mean merit, age does not mean maturity, experience does not mean knowledge, talent does not mean wisdom, sincerity does not mean creativity, drive does not mean determination, motivation does not mean innovation and honesty does not mean productivity and outspokenness does not mean output.

Therefore, employers must develop exacting tools to measure performance and creativity essential to assess usefulness and wage-worthiness. Individuals, Institutions and nations ignoring these facts end up in recruiting non-contributors and non-performers.

Change is challenging:

Only a change can change a change and change alone can challenge a change along with the inevitable uncertainties associated with every change. These are the real challenges of life for the present and future generations.

Uncertainties:

Uncertainty is more certain and more inevitable than the most inevitable change and challenges.

Thus, entrepreneurs must be more vigilant than never before since emerging technologies demanding abrupt changes need abnormal potential to absorb changes and challenges associated.

Limitations of science:

So far, Science has miserably failed to understand the nature, its secrets and several things happening around. For reasons best known to all concerned, man-made tools like science, engineering and technology continue to fail forever, in spite of this hard reality, we must continue respect science since it carries the entire essential potential essential to add sweetness and flavour essential to make life worth living and enjoyable.

This fact is nothing but truth. Therefore, let us go along with the nature as thoughtfully did by the wisest and the most knowledgeable ancient people of our planet.

What is death?

Death means unwillingness to change.

Infy NR Narayana Murthy seldom believes in simplicity since he believes in something beyond.

NVSN Murthy, Scientist and a temporary visitor on earth chasing death since birth.

thank you.
really good

Hi Madam,

I am Ayaz working as s/w engineer. i am happy with my life and with my job. i need your suggestion. i cant ask it on public but i am sure you have that answer.

Please reply to this id ayazhussain.m@gmail and i am sure will send you the question, i am all waiting with HOPE.

Warm regards
Ayaz

Hi
very nice experince from SM.

What is death?

Countries like India crippling under corruption, scams, scandals and vote-bank politics should come under people like NR Narayana Murthy so that people as many as 1300 million get benefited from transparency, clarity, fairness, discipline, sincerity, equality and equal opportunity.

Hi Mam.
Through your article our Group inspired more.This is giving energy to reach our goal.Thank you.

Belief betrays:
We fail if we prefer to believe what we prefer to be true.

Ideas:
Ideas originate from imagination. Thus, ideas are imagination-sensitive. They are neither age-sensitive nor power-sensitive nor position sensitive. The talent conceives and the genius buys.

Inability:
We can’t find a solution for every problem since we don’t reach the root of every problem.

Failure Placement:
We seldom succeed if we place preferences in place of priorities.

Nori Theory of Efforts (NTE):
For a dedicated worker, failure is an input and success is an output, thus he is untouched by both failures and successes.

Hi madam i m very impresed of u r life,book,&attitude. my city ichalkaranji dist kolhapur i m work in co-op bank

Democracy does not mean either voting or counting

“Blessed are those who can give without remembering.”

“Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or
accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”

HELP OTHERS!!!
BEST WISHES TO MADAM & SIR HELP!!!!!!!!!! & HELP !!!!!!!!!

Hello Mrs Murthy,
What ever may be the wealth you amass in your life time humility is the main thing and it tells the caliber of a person.

REgards

Sanjay Godakhindi
Pune

Sudha Murthy’s encounter with the great JRD Tata is really mind blowing. Present day girls should really know her life time experience. She rather reflected like the role model of a girl as described by Tamil poet Bharathi. Cherish and to spread this feelings.

My dad always said we should not forget our past as we grow.The same thing I read here.A very beautiful one.Really got to know about JRD and his down to earth nature.Who will ever stand with a girl that too an employee in their company think 1 among thousands.

A wonderful story and very heartwarming.Do anyone of you know mrs.Sudha Murthy’s email ID or residential address?

We are establishing a library in our primary school and i requesting sudha murthy to help us mob:9741213245 mail:santosh9.kumar1@gmail.com

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