“Money should come slowly over a period of time. Then only does one respect it. Whether it’s a man or a woman, earning too much money in too short a period is as bad as excess liquor.” – Sudha Murthy
If someone was to identify Sudha Murthy with her clothes, as being done these days, he would not be able to go beyond stamping her as being “cattle class” just like a lady did at the London Airport when she saw her wearing Salwar Kameez while travelling in Business class. She doesn’t brag about her achievements, money, and the high status in the society, she also doesn’t hold back from being proactive about social issues. She writes, reads, does social service, she is a teacher, an engineer, an author, and yet manages to stay down to earth. The life of Sudha Murthy is like a bag full of motivational books that must be opened and utilised.
I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. – Jimmy Dean
A Fresh Spring
Born in Karnataka in the year India became a Republic, she was a promising student who wouldn’t budge away from studies at any cost. Be it school, graduation, or post-graduation, she was always on top. After successfully finishing her high school, she developed a keen interest in becoming an engineer which was considered a ‘male-only’ domain during those days. She received opposition from society and even from within her own family but she resisted and took admission. Her college, at that time, had 599 boys and she was the only girl out there, and does not even have a facility of toilets for girls. There were fears and apprehensions about how she would be able to cope up with an environment that was surrounded by only men. But, it was her strong will power that overpowered every negative thought that her worried father and the principal of the college had. The young girl held her ground when the patriarchal society stood as a hurdle in front and passed the challenge with flying colours.
A winner is a dreamer who never gives up. – Nelson Mandela
On top of her game
When she sat for her BE Electrical Engineering exams, little did she know that her efforts would culminate into making her the topper of not only her college but of the entire state of Karnataka and would fetch her a Gold Medal from the Chief Minister of the state. Filled with motivation and the urge to work harder she chose Computer Science as the subject for her M.Tech which many believed was a wrong decision. Once again the talented woman was confronted with a challenge. Sudha decided that it is only her performance that can help her break taboos. The results spoke of her hard work as she received another Gold Medal after topping her class, this time from the Indian Institute of Engineers.
Due to her amazing academic performances, she got a scholarship to study in America, an opportunity that no would like to miss since those days going abroad to study was a huge achievement added to it was the fact that a woman student was getting such a chance. It was then that she got a taste of destiny and coincidence. Just before leaving for America, she accidentally noticed an advertisement in a newspaper about a TELCO (now TATA motors) job vacancy but to her surprise, the job was “only for men”. This made her furious because according to her, women were no less than men and were, in fact, better but without an opportunity, they wouldn’t be able to prove themselves. She expressed her displeasure by writing to J.R.D Tata and was soon called for a personal interview. Impressed by her vision, qualities, and other skills, TELCO inducted her as its first-ever woman engineer. The company went on to change its “Men Only” policy and opened up recruitments for women as well. She became a symbol against Gender Bias and forced many other companies to rethink the composition of their workforce.
The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. – Amelia Earhart
The pillar behind success
After marrying N.R. Narayan Murthy, things didn’t remain the same for her because her husband didn’t have a settled life in terms of career. It was she who stood firmly behind Narayan Murthy’s idea of starting Infosys even when he wasn’t sure about the financial backing. He had the vision but no money and during the 90s, it was difficult for any entrepreneur, who couldn’t arrange sufficient funds, to begin his journey. Facing monetary challenges and going low on motivation, Narayan Murthy found an investor in her wife who lent him Rs.10000 which she had saved for life’s contingencies. Apart from this, she also took the responsibility of looking after the financial needs of their family while he invested all his time in the venture. She was a pillar of immense strength for her husband and did all that she could to encourage him and help him achieve his dream. Other than moral and financial support, she also used her educational brilliance to steer Infosys in the right direction by serving as a part-time programmer in the company. She is a crystal clear example of a woman being behind the success of a man.
There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, there are no limits. – Michael Phelps
For the society
Her life always revolved around social work the seeds of which were sown at an early age when she faced an awkward situation in her college. There were no Toilets for women since the composition of her engineering college was tilted completely in favour of males. The situation was very grave but she couldn’t do anything about it at that time other than requesting the administration to make architectural efforts. It was then that she decided that no girl should ever face this kind of situation and vowed to do whatever she could when she becomes capable enough. Years later, through Infosys foundation, she helped in building over 16000 toilets in places where they were least accessible. Her determination to not only think but also deliver for society was rock solid.
She also helped in the construction of over 60000 libraries and a lot of schools throughout the country while realising her dream of giving it back to society in the best possible way. Be it healthcare, women empowerment, poverty alleviation, public hygiene or any other societal change, she is quick to offer help and bring about change at the grassroots level.
This philanthropist has changed several lives and even paid her contribution at the time when the country demands the most, the time of natural disasters and calamities, like tsunami, floods, etc. And, her efforts have been recognized by the various organizations and the government of India, when they felicitate her with Padma Shri Award in 2006.
When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. – Henry Ford
Sudha Kulkarni Murthy has faced various societal oppositions in life where she had to be up against the ire of society for challenging the male dominance in spheres of education and employment but she always fought and stood up for what was right. Out of 600 students at her engineering college, she was the only girl. Out of hundreds of engineers at TELCO, she was the only female engineer. From a bright student to a supportive wife and a champion social servant, she has done all that a responsible citizen strives for in a truly commendable way.