20 April, 2021

N.R. Narayana Murthy, Executive Chairman, Infosys

Infosys founder, pioneer of software sweatshopping, embodiment of middle-class values, creator of billions, provider of entrepreneurial inspiration and homilies.

Illustration by Sorit
N.R. Narayana Murthy, Executive Chairman, Infosys

N.R. Narayana Murthy’s continuing influence in Karnataka is a tribute to his staying power. Infosys, which he founded, has been a key face of India’s 1990s IT boom. For over two decades, Murthy, and Infosys, have represented the rise of an Indian way of doing business, a success story that changed the way the world viewed us. And even if the IT boom is waning today, Murthy’s role in building India as a knowledge economy, raising an army of Indian millionaires, has been stellar. Part of Murthy’s appeal has to do with his carefully cultivated persona—middle-class, rooted, earthy as well as international. With his pants tucked halfway up his chest, Murthy looks earnest and serious. He mouths all that appeals to the middle class: hard work, merit, English, abstinence, grit, and, most importantly, reward. He could well be termed the A.P.J. Abdul Kalam of business. Murthy has made no secret of his ambitions—like becoming president or an ambassador to the US. Many feel his presidential ambitions floundered during an Independence Day function at the...

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