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NRN Murthy @ IISc: innovate or fly?

Respected Sir, 
    You’re a living legend, a real-life hero to not only me, but to the entire nation. You’re a towering example of entrepreneurship. It’s redundant to write anything about you or your creation, Infosys. Having read the report on your convocation address at the IISc, I must say that it’s both enlightening and simple, as we always expect from you. I’m not able to suppress the urge to ask a few questions though. Sir, pardon me for my audacity.

  • You’ve consciously chosen not to be an inventor of technology even after being the czar of Indian IT industry. You preferred ‘service’ over ‘product’, ‘process’ over ‘device’; a decision that eventually engraved your name in gold into the records of Indian history. There is no reason to raise finger on any successful entrepreneurial decision; more so if the name of the success is Infosys. Still, was there a time in your career when you felt differently? Did you have a belief that Indians are no good when it comes to innovations? What took you 60 years to get disappointed?
  • You have motivated a large mass of Indian youth and added wonderful value to the Indian economy. However, to the young, immature blood joining the IT service organizations, the ideas of ‘Global Delivery Model’ and ‘The 24-hour workday’ somehow translated into a route to be a global citizen. Those who had no potential to innovate found home in the cozy arithmetic of ‘worldly’ success shown by Indian IT service sector that focused on short term volume based exploitation of labor costs and exchange rates. Due to this everydayness of International travel, those who were genuinely capable had no choice but to go abroad for higher education and settle for good. ‘Brain drain’ has been a known issue with India for a while, given our socio-economic structure. When the mediocre section of the youth learned to fly, there was no looking back for the brainier ones. With the government struggling to make the basic ends meet, where was the inspiration to innovate; a role model? If Mr. Murthy couldn’t take a risk to encourage technology innovation, who else had both the financial and the intellectual luxury of a plunge into the dark?
  • Over the last 5 years, it’s no secret how hard it has fallen on the ground. The erstwhile ‘mature processes’ of forward guidance on growth has been muted by time. Whatever be the reason, the founders have retired and handed the baton over to younger ‘outsiders’. On your farewell, you learnt the meaning of the Hindi word ‘Sikka’ and admitted its need for the revival of the company. You also tasted the first controversy by bringing your son onboard to assist you. You have your reasons to be upset. But at this stage of your life, is it fair to blame the IISc or the IITs for not contributing enough? They were, are and hopefully will be producing the best technocrats of India. How can they force them to stay back or come back and innovate? These 6 decades did include your heydays, too. Today are you calling out for innovation-capable martyrs who sacrifice all comforts of life for a noble but uncertain cause of innovation, whereas their not-so-bright counterparts will choose one among those 50 states of stay? As you pointed out, the MITs of the world produce innovators because their society that embraces alternative thinking and their economy that sponsors the would-be innovators. I’m sure they had blessing from their corporate world. Where is the corporate patronage here?
Sir, we will esteem you at the highest rank always, no matter how unfavorable the times seem today. We, as followers, are mature enough to appreciate the laws of nature, time and tides and don’t change our stand on our very own idols so easily. We expect you to mentor us to make up for the lost grounds of these 60 years. Passing the buck to the premier educational institutions, the politicians or the bureaucrats will probably not address the core issue. 

** Written in reaction to <NRNMurthy-IISc-Convocation-Address>


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