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Murthy’s mission: 650 million youth with disposable income


Posted: Aug 02, 2004 at 0328 hrs IST

The city from where India’s IT bellwether Infosys Technologies and its chairman and chief mentor N R Narayana Murthy began their journey to become a billion-dollar company, on Sunday honoured him the way it knew: Presenting him with Tilak Puraskar for creating wealth, keeping it in the country and sharing it with his fellow countrymen. And even as Murthy walked down the memory lane, he also sent a strong signal that his mission was to ensure that 650 million people below 35 years of age have jobs with disposable income.

India needs to create 12-14 million jobs continuously for the next 20 years, if it has to give disposable income to its young men and women, Murthy felt. But it was not just plain rhetoric, for he had a clear-cut plan to achieve this goal.

Besides boosting exports, Murthy felt that drawing youth from villages to sunrise sectors like IT and services was the other option. He said India was investing too many people to produce too little. ‘‘Almost 70 per cent of the country’s population produce only 220 million tonnes of foodgrain. There is something wrong,’’ he said.

And in the process he also gave a subtle message to the political establishment of the country that it was a wrong notion that promoting IT will incur the wrath of rural India. ‘‘Just because two efficient chief ministers (read N Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh and S M Krishna in Karnataka) lost elections, drawing such a conclusion is wrong,’’ the Infosys chairman said.

‘‘My wife Sudha, who travels extensively in rural India for philanthropic work, often comes across women who want their sons to be in high salary jobs,’’ he said.

Coming back to exports’ scenario, Murthy said India should send goods and services totalling $200 billion by 2010 to create enough jobs in the country. But once again, he stressed, the target can be achieved not through an agrarian economy but by one driven by IT and services.

‘‘The IT and services sector have to contribute at least 40 per cent of the total exports, somewhere around $80 billion by 2010,’’ he said.

But infrastructure continued to be a prime concern. ‘‘Good roads, stable power and standard airports are mandatory for this industry to grow in any city,’’ he said. As also was the case with education.

The IT industry needs 5 million people on a yearly basis, he said. ‘‘But the present education standards and policy do not match this challenge,’’ Murthy said.


Murthy become nostalgic as he received the Tilak award. Right from the food to elusive Hamara Bajaj scooter, he recalled his golden days in Pune where he met wife, Sudha Kulkarni. Calling Pune and Mysore his favourite cities, he admitted being slow in proposing to Sudha. ‘‘I met her at Bajaj Auto and finally proposed at Kalmadi’s Poona Coffee House in Deccan. We also had king size juice at Darshan in Deccan. The lovely meal for Rs 8 at Chung Wa was lip-smacking.’’

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