Murthy chats with Business Week (19 July 2000)
N.R. Narayana Murthy, the founder and Chairman of India's spectacular technology success story, Infosys Technologies, visited New York recently and met with a team of Business Week editors, including International Managing Editor Bob Dowling, Assistant International Managing Editor Christopher Power, and Asia Editor Sheri Prasso. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:
We hear you've become quite a philanthropist, that you're making large donations
with money from sales of your personal Infosys stock. Can you tell us about the money
you're giving away?
Can you give us an idea of how much it is? Millions? Tens of millions?
At least, what is the objective of the donations you're making?
Do you want to discuss where you see Infosys going in the next five years?
I think in India we have been fairly successful in gaining respect and our reputation. But the real challenge is to get respect and reputation in a market like this [the U.S.] with a lot of smart companies, a lot of role models, a lot of high performers.
Secondly, we obviously want to provide best services to our customers, so we have to enhance our knowledge and make sure we provide core solutions.
Thirdly, in our mission statement is employing best practices, to attract good talent...[and] to make the company more multicultural. Obviously, our objective is to create an environment where people of different nationalities come together and work in an environment of intense competition but mutual respect, to add greater and greater value to our customers.
What are you doing to achieve this?
This is a pretty competitive job culture here, and you have to meet the demands
of the market. How do you do that?
How likely is it that the IT revolution in India can really have an impact
I'll tell you why I say that: A couple of months ago, I was coming out of my office and one of the attendants, one of the people who bring coffee and tea and clean tables, he was coming out, and he was smiling. He was very happy. I said, "What, man, why are you so happy? What has happened?"
said, "I got this urgent call from my village, I have to go back and go to see my
father, somebody is not well."
said, "No, I could get money. I went to the ATM and got money."
He explained, "When I go to a bank counter, first of all I am not dressed suitably, and the counter clerk does not show as much interest in serving me. Second, if I go to the counter at 3:55 because they close at 4:00, they don't serve me because they want to close up and go. "On the other hand, this machine is a great leveler. I stand in the queue. It doesn't matter whether it's me or the Chairman. We all stand in the queue. We put in our cards. We get the money."
In some senses, technology is a great leveler. Secondly, if technology is to reduce costs, if technology is to improve productivity, who needs these things more than the poor? So I've been having a big battle with my government, saying we need technology much more than anybody else.
The poor need technology! In Bombay, 50% of the taxi drivers are from the villages. They come to the city, they are away from their families, they get to go back once in six months. So we said, "Let's conduct an experiment: Take a taxi driver in Bombay, and use Internet technology to keep them in touch." I personally believe technology has tremendous impact on the Indian economy.
Is the government becoming more cooperative?
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