I recently ran through the book “A better India, A better World “by Mr. Narayana Murthy of Infosys. This book is a collection of numerous speeches made by Mr Murthy in his career as an entrepreneur and his recent role as an advisor to the Ministry of Education. This blog is not intended to provide a critical review of Mr. Murthy’s query on the paucity of everything in India. But, I cannot resist the temptation to point out some of my observations, some praise and some criticism.
Let’s start with the good stuff first. Mr Murthy is a keen observer of the dynamics of the Indian society. His western experience and interaction was utilized quite effectively to portray the inadequacies of the Indian society. His approach to recommend policy is quite scientific: description, diagnosis, and prescription. The book covers a coterie of topics such as education, corruption, infrastructure, population, poverty etc. In his analysis, he comes across as a passionate and genuine individual. In most of the issues with India, he presents an excellent case in the departments of description and diagnosis. But the plot goes awfully bad after this.
His prescription can be described as shallow and generic. His speeches, which are intended to be grand and motivational, come across as a boring repetition of stale ideas that have existed for a while in the journalistic publications. What went missing was a fresh set of ideas beyond the usual fixes of corruption such as better law enforcement, accountability, and IT!
If he displayed lack of creativity in the policy prescription, then he continued this trend by offering the policy prescription without dwelling into the actual mechanics. For example, his three prong solution to corruption has been described in the last paragraph. But, he does not go into the necessary details on how to implement these changes in the system. He admonishes average Indian as everyone wants to be a thinker not a doer. Not sure if it such a bad idea to think or have a thinking process in our society compared with some other nations who want their citizens to be mere order processors.
Regarding his speeches, I must say they bloat with clichés and quotations. The quotations are sometimes inserted without much appreciation to the context or necessity. Just browsing through the quotations, one might be tempted to compare Mr Murthy with raging intellectuals such as Pandit Nehru. I am not susceptible to such a pitfall as I am aware a good quotations book can become an ample substitute to reading an entire array of grey matter stimulating books. Lastly, I cannot get rid of the arrogant pomp and self entitlement that is vivid in the book due to his success as an entrepreneur. His success is not only due to his intelligence and diligence but also due to being at the right place at the right time or what simple men call “LUCK”. Mr. Murthy shows amnesia to the above observation or rule.
In all, he is a living reflection of the contradictions that mar the Indian society in a grand scale. I have read and heard about his rants on him being humble. Mr. Murthy may be repulsive to apply the words such as “humble” or “unassuming” in practice, but does not hesitate to utilize the same words in describing his personality. But, after hearing the stories regarding the money spending orgy at his daughter’s wedding at the Leela Palace in Bangalore, I am not going to buy his claims on the face value. I believe his analysis on India is an educated one. But, there is no need to done him as the latest social scientist or visionary. I bet the following Hebrew saying is apt in this context:
“After a man is rich and successful, he is not only handsome and wise, but he also possesses an excellent sense of humour.”