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"It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match'd with an ag├Ęd wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

When the Chairman replied...

[Of the dozens of forwarded mails I get, this is something which made sense]

It seems that the story of an inspired young man was floating around cyberspace. Because the story gave away the name of that person in the closing lines, someone decided to mail him directly to find out if it was indeed true. The reply was a pithy one-liner - "Yes, it is true." Here's that story...

He was short. He was sharp. He was the brightest boy in his class. His seniors would ask him to solve their difficulties in Science. He could have gone unnoticed in the crowd, but once you asked him a question related to Physics or Maths, there was a spark in his eyes. He could grasp theories of science faster than the speed of light.

He came from a poor but educated family. His father was a high-school teacher and an avid reader of English literature. He, like all the boys, in the class was trying to get admission into some engineering college. The brighter ones wanted to study in he Indian Institutes of Technology, or the IIT's. There was an entrance test for IIT. This boy, along with his friends applied to appear for the test. They did not have any special books or coaching. All these IIT aspirants would sit below the shade of a stone mantap close to Chamundi Hills in the sleepy town of Mysore. He was a guide for others. While the others struggled to solve problems in the question paper, he would smile shyly and solve them in no time. He sat below a tree and dreamt of studying at IIT. He was then only sixteen years old.

D-Day came. He came to Bangalore, stayed with some relatives and appeared for the entrance test. He did very well but would only say "OK" when asked. It was the opposite when it cameto food... "OK" implied bad, "good" implied ok, and "very good" implied good!! His principle was never to hurt anyone....

The IIT entrance results came. He had passed with flying colors and the hightest rank. He was thrilled! He went to his father who was reading a newspaper.

"Anna, I have passed the exam"

"Well done, my boy".

"I want to join IIT".

His father stopped reading the paper. He lifted his head, looked at the boy and said with a heavy voice "You know our financial position, and I cannot afford your expenses at IIT. You can stay in Mysore and learn as much as you want." His father was sad that he had to tell the bitter truth, but it could not be helped.

The teenager was disappointed. He was so near to fulfilling his fondest dream, yet so far. His heart sank in sorrow.

He did not reply. He never shared his unhappines with anyone. He was an introvert by nature. His heart was bleeding but he did not get angry with anyone.

The day came, his classmates were leaving for Madras (today called Chennai). They were leaving from Mysore to Chennai. They had shared good years at school and he went to wish them good luck for their future. At the station his friends were already there. They were excited and discussing their new hostels, new courses etc. So he stood there silently. One of his friends noticed and said "You should have made it."

He did not reply. He just wished them. He stood there even after he could no longer see the train or the waving hands. It was June 1962 in the city of Mysore. He stood there motionless.

He said to himself, without anger or jealousy, "All students from the IIT's study well and do big things in life. But it is not the institution, ultimately it is you and you alone who can change your life by hard work."

This son of a school teacher became a pioneer of India's software industry. He is none other than Infosys founder and present Chairman, Narayana Murthy, his motto being "Powered by intellect, Driven by Values."
I remember reading somewhere that back when Rajesh Jain sold a bevy of websites to Sify, some guy actually mailed and got a reply, and was touting this achievement. Now what do you call this? A reply from one of the most important Indians of the modern era! The Indian face of global IT, or the global face of Indian IT. A simple act such as this one actually speaks volumes about this great man - how accessible a man of such stature can be!

When Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was elected the President of India, everyone felt happy. Not because he could change everything with one sweep of the hand. Not just because he wasn't a crony of any political party. Here was a man with towering achievements, and he was leading a simple life. People could relate to him - he was one among them, and one they could look up to. People actually were debating if Mr. Kalam's elevation to the country's highest post added merit to him, or to the post.

I think Mr. Narayana Murthy is one of the very few others in this country whose elevation to the Rashtrapati Bhavan will actually decorate the office of the President. So here goes my vote - Mr. Murthy for President!

7 Comments:

Blogger Karthik said...

we take inspiration out of everything... yet, there remain certain special things which make us small and leave us wanting to do things.

7/24/2005 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Narayanamurthy is a great inspiration for every Indian.The story about how he fell in love with his wife is also very interesting

7/25/2005 05:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Gandhi was to India prior to Independence, Narayanamurthy is to India from the 90s. I could not imagine an Indian IT industry without this genius.

-Onion

7/26/2005 03:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Narayan Murthy is to be admired because even now he leads a simple life without any pride.

7/27/2005 08:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just an add-on... he did his MTech from IIT Kanpur

7/27/2005 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Fathima said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/02/2005 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Fathima said...

Gud one. Its bcoz of these ppl, the word "hope" is still prevailing with meaning.

8/02/2005 11:05:00 PM  

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