It's her passion and commitment to using what she has been blessed with for the benefit of others that keeps Sudha Murthy ticking.
Very few are aware of Sudha Murthy's achievements. She is single-handedly evangelizing the move towards corporate social responsibility (CSR), she has worked for almost a decade to change the lives of children in the heart of rural Karnataka by giving them access to food and education. She is an author with 92 books in almost every Indian language to her credit.
We take inspiration from her philanthropy and her simplicity, but Sudha Murthy has played a much bigger and bolder role in her life. She gave up her career and personal life to help NR Narayana Murthy turn his Infosys dream into reality.
"He (NR Narayana Murthy) told me I require three years of your hard work and I will not be able to earn, you have to manage the family, and give me the initial investment. I said okay let him do it. When you do not have many things, then you do not get scared. What I would have lost, only three years in my career, that is okay I told," Sudha Murthy said in an interview with CNBC-TV18 which aired in 2007.The chairperson of Infosys Foundation, an author, and philanthropist, Sudha married Infosys Technologies founder NR Narayana Murthy in 1978. Their wedding was a simple affair with just the family of the two. The whole wedding cost Rs 800 wherein both pitched in equal amount.
In 1981, Murthy realized his big dream and it was the beginning for Infosys, one of the biggest names in software consulting.
But before making any decision, Murthy gave her the choice. He said that both of them could not be at Infosys together, so he gave her the choice of joining Infosys, but she chose to pull back.
"It was very hard for me, it was not an easy decision because in 1968 I joined engineering college and 1972 I got graduated where there was not a single girl in the university. A person like me who was so career conscious, and so fond of technical things, it was very hard. However, Murthy being a very strong person, he said either you or me, either it is black or white, or one or zero," said Sudha.
A lot of reasons drove her to make that decision.
"I thought practically if I am in, then he is out, and when you start a company, you have to run around, stay away from the family, everything you have to do, and there you cannot play the card I am a female and I cannot be away from the family, I cannot be away from the children, that is not practically possible," said Sudha.
The second thing that stopped her from taking up Infosys was her children, who require their mother in the early stage of life.
"So thinking that I said okay and I made the decision, but my heart was very heavy. It took many years for me to reconcile saying that I am not part of the team Infosys, technical way I am talking. I was capable of it," she said.
As Murthy worked hard with co-founders (Nandan Nilekani among them) to realize his dreams, Sudha became the rock that kept their relationship and Murthy's ambitions steady. She took the role of a homemaker and supported her husband but somewhere down the line she felt she lost her golden days.
"Of course I feel that because those were the days where we are carefree, we are easy to get along with people, people never expected, my friends never expected anything from me, nor my relations expected anything from me. Life was so easy like anyone now, middle-class people, today the situation is so different," recollected Sudha.
According to her, as we progress and achieve bigger things in life, it becomes more and more difficult to find true relationships.
"I think, it becomes so hard to find out a genuine friend, genuine relation because everything is a transaction in one or other way. It could be money, it could be a job, it could be an association, and somewhere I feel I lost the golden days."
First Published: IST