Respect that India gained overseas comes with tremendous responsibility, says NR Narayana Murthy


The respect that India gained overseas over the years brings with it tremendous responsibility, said NR Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys and former chairperson of Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA).

Speaking at an event in the IIMA campus on Friday, Murthy said, “You people are living in extraordinary times. When I was working in Paris, everyone looked at India as a land of filth and poverty. But today there is certain level of respect, not very high though; thanks to the economic reforms of 1991 to the recent ones such as Make in India and Startup India.”

“NRIs in Silicon Valley and other places have also demonstrated that they can create wealth for others. Thanks to companies such as Flipkart, OYO and others there is interest for investment in India,” said Murthy as he sat down for a chat with Ujwal Kalra and Shobhit Shubhankar, IIMA alumni and co-authors of “Startup Compass: How Iconic Entrepreneurs Got It Right”.

Adding that it is important to remember that every adulation comes with tremendous responsibility, Murthy said, “When I was of your age there was not much responsibility on me as not much was expected.”

Comparing the country’s progress with that of China, he said that in the past 44 years, China has left India far behind. “From 1978-2022, China has left India behind so much. Six times is not a joke but I think when you all decide to make things happen, India also will see similar respect as China gets today,” he said.

Recalling his days when he was on the HSBC Board in London, he said, “During my time on HSBC board in London between 2004 and 2012, in the first few years when China was mentioned three times in the boardroom, India was mentioned only once… somehow India got stalled, decisions were not taken quickly. By the time I left, China was being mentioned 30 times and India may be or may not be mentioned even once. So, it is your responsibility to ensure mention of India is done whenever they mention any other country, particularly China. That is my request.”

On women in leadership roles, Murthy told the audience that there is no association between gender and leadership.

“Women leaders have come across very fine be it corporate or political fields. In Israel, I have seen very fine female leaders in military. Leadership is all about raising hope, aspiration and enthusiasm of people. And does anyone do it better than the mother? To me a mother is a great leader to bring up a child from nothing which is not an easy task to inculcate great values in you… My personal view is that we should not associate gender with leadership,” he added.

The How to Start a Startup was a series crafted by IIMA’s startup accelerator and incubator CIIE.CO along with its student entrepreneurship cell EntreVCthat. Fifteen icons of the startup space, including Kunal Shah, Deep Kalra, Sachin Bansal and Falguni Nayar, lent their voice to it, culminating in a book. CIIE.CO is an entrepreneurship centre built at IIMA and recognised as a Centre of Excellence by the Department of Science and Technology.

This is the first time that the event was opened to the general public and startup ecosystem of Ahmedabad.