Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A better India, A better world

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.”


  1. I am surprised to a comment like this here -'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”.'

    What if 'LUCK' was raining on him like anything but the intelligence and diligence was absent! If you read what all efforts sudha and narayan murthy had put into in sudha murthy's book, you would surely not say 'but also due to being at the right place at the right time ' because only the zeal and intelligence drovethem to the places where humble oppotunities were waiting to be explored !

  2. I completly agree to the point...the so called humble narayana murthy performs his daughter's marrage in ah 8 star hotel in banglore(leela palace)in which ,cup of tea cost around Rs:350. And the same guys goes bosting like " i have so many things to be humbled about".

  3. I think a man is entitled to wed off her daughter the way he likes and the way he can afford. He indeed has so many things to be huimbled about. In fact I think even if he boasts about himself, what's wrong with it? Who doesn'boast? And why shall not Narayan Murthy? After all he is the father of Infosys!He created Infosys and turned into this giagiantic co. from scratch! I find a humble but boasting murthy better than a modest ambani.At least he is not jeopardising the country!

  4. We all get into the trap of glorifyin someone because you might have seen his glorified persona.Rather analyse into each and every aspect as a case. Aft that u can come to ah conclusion or an impression abt that person. Let me make things more clear , lets talk abt the book " A BETTER INDIA A BETTER WORLD", i completly agree what ever is written in the blog
    1.Lack of creativity(no new ideas)
    2.The popularity of the book is linked to his success as an entrepreneur

    I guess the idea of writing a book like this can be linked to his arrogance that whtever he writes will be appreciated and also sells.

  5. My only point is the one I highlighted that LUCK is not the reason for this man. I have not read the book. As you say that he lacked new ideas etc. It might be even true.
    You say its his arrogance which is seen in the book-'whatever he writes will be appreciated and will sell'. It mght be. Chetan Bhagat sells like anything. R v 2 blame him or its us? This fellow , arvind adiga, fetched booker ! who is to be blamed? Arvind or the selectors or the readers? Such a useless stuff it is.
    Narayan murthy would have certainly lacked the skills, ideas whatever. But simply don't wash away all his little and big efforts he has put into raising Infosys by labelling it as LUCK!

  6. I'm not sayin he is bad, i'm not sayin that he doesn't deserve anythin.Wat all i'm sayin is ,"he is not that good"

  7. Well, discounting Mr Murthy of his intelligence and diligence can be an inappropriate analysis and injustice to his entrepreneurial success. But, the author of the blog merely questions his entitlement to comment on the state of affairs of our nation and construction of our society. I just ponder regarding his scholastic and intellectual ability to overtake a magnanimous task of preaching lesser souls like ourselves on "better" living.

    Secondly, Chetan Bhagat's exploits in the literary circles are another question altogether. If he had to comment on how I should handle my domestic affairs in a book, then my response will be adequate and not necessarily polite. Similarly, if Mr. Murthy participates in a dialogue to improve India, then I anticipate him to display his acumen,knowledge, and credentials through his thoughts. Without a satisfactory and informed argument in the book, I am forced to doubt about his motivation, necessity and most importantly his ability to undertake this monumental task.

  8. That good means ? What is the benchmark? Or you want to say that he is not that good what people think about him ?Something like this?

  9. @mayaviheen : bingo to the point

  10. @deepika: Not that good means not that good to comment on the state affairs or givin free gyan on how issues not relatin to his field(IT)

  11. In india ppl just respond in two ways...either extremely glorify or extremely vilify...may be the right answers i think are some where in between.....I also happened to read Mr. Murthy's book. with all due respect to his work as an entrepreneur he has his blind sides too..just like all of us....infact he was referring to his own speeches in his book as citations which i think is absurd..when compared to books by other economists....he always claims he is data driven but the book was full of cliche opinions which carry weight just because they are Mr.Murthy's......

    @praneeth:I agree with deepika...he can host his daughter's wedding as he likes...he himself claims he is a hard core capitalist and we have no rights to judge him...he never claimed he is extremely philanthropic...