Sudha Murthy – Evangelizing Change & Societal Upliftment


Our country has always been a promoter of true talent, irrespective of the gender or background one comes from. Overachievers like Sushma Swaraj, Savitribai Phule, Sudha Murthy, and many more are examples of true woman power, putting light on the changes women have brought to society, in various sectors and fields. Shaping the future of tomorrow successfully and leaving no stone unturned, women have always held a position of leadership, guiding everyone towards growth and learning. In this current world of male domination, Indian Women have shown us how they have involved themselves in a relentless fight to regain their lost territories, pushing boundaries by utilizing their strengths, skills, knowledge, and emotions.

With a clear aim of molding our world and making conscious efforts to transform it for the better, women have reshaped workplaces, homes, and societies at large, taking the world by storm, in turn redefining their respective passions and careers. Dedicating this section to one such lady, who can perhaps be called the most influential women leader of this century – Sudha Murthy, we aim towards letting the world know of her true prowess in changing the teaching/educational landscape of Karnataka/India.

Humble Beginnings

Born to Dr. R. H. Kulkarni and Vimala Kulkarni in Shiggaon, Karnataka, Dr. Sudha Murthy was a bright student from her early childhood. As living proof of her academic prowess, she came first in her class and received a gold medal for her outstanding performance during her engineering studies in the field of Electrical. With a clear thirst for knowledge and her immense interest in the field of Computer Science, she went ahead to pursue her M.E in the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, for which she obtained a gold medal too for coming first, yet again.

Getting hired into India’s largest auto manufacturer TELCO, now Tata motors, she became the first female engineer onboard. Working as a development engineer in various locations across the country, she started voicing the issue of “men-only” bias existing in the field of engineering. Getting noted for her gutsy and out-of-the-box attitude, she was called for a special interview by the then Chairman of TELCO. She then worked as Senior System Analyst in Walchand group of Industries in Pune, subsequently moving to Mumbai afterward. However, while working in TELCO, she met her soul mate Mr. Narayana Murthy and they got married. Being the pillar for the success of Infosys Foundation, she is still associated with her husband to build up the company and their combined efforts have led the company to great heights.

Committed towards change

Understanding the importance of social-equality, Sudha Murthy had philanthropy as one of her major goals. Aiming towards empowering women in all aspects, she started awareness campaigns of rural education, public hygiene, poverty alleviation, and much more. Seeing India as a superpower not only in terms of growth but also in terms of cleanliness, she worked rigorously building toilets for the public and working for people in flood-affected areas.

Extending her philanthropic gestures in her literary endeavors, Sudha Murthy as an Author, published many stories, talking about her life experiences and societal changes, she would see India undergoing in upcoming days and years. Her writing had a flavor of common lives, where she wrote on hospitality, her childhood, realizing views on donations and charity. Many of her Kannada books got translated into English and some got adapted into TV series.  Many of her works were children’s series and bountiful fiction authors in Kannada as well as in English. Her most famous works in Kananda are namely – Dollar Sose, Kaveri inda Mekaanige, Runa, Hakkiya Teradalli & Gutthondu Heluve. One of her famous works was “How I taught my grandmother to read and other stories “, a book that was translated into 15 other languages, reflects her childhood association with her paternal grandparents, and how it helped her grow as a teacher.

Achievements & beyond

From the start of her education career, all thanks to the impressive academician she was, she was honored with many prestigious awards. Being recognized for the Raja-Lakshmi award by the Sri Raja-Lakshmi Foundation in Chennai in 2004, she won the award for her outstanding performance is Social works. She won the Padma Shri, the fourth highest-ranking official as per the Government of India, and even obtained a doctorate for her publications.

Her immense love for teaching and computers led her to write many books in computers for teaching the basics of computers to rural children. Her technical book in Kannada – Shaale Makkaligagi Computer – won her the Attimabbe award, for her sheer dedication and technical prowess. Being a Kannadati herself and having dedication towards her motherland – Karnataka and Kannada led her towards writing a lot of books in Kannada. Consequently, in 2000 she was awarded the ‘Karnataka Rajyotsava Award’ for achievement in the field of literature and social work. Also, via her public charitable trust she founded in 1996, she has so far built 2,300 houses in the flood-affected areas. She also envisions providing every school of Karnataka with a library and has so far set up 70,000 libraries, and 16,000 public toilets.

 Infosys – A dream come true

While working with TELCO, she got married to Mr. Narayan Murthy and all due to her passion and commitment, Narayan Murthy was blessed with the dream of Infosys. Moreover, very few are aware of Sudha Murthy’s achievements, and how she single-handedly evangelized the move towards corporate social responsibility (CSR), and her immense work for almost a decade. An author of 92+ books, we take inspiration from her philanthropy and her simplicity, but Sudha Murthy has played a much bigger and bolder role in her life. She gave up her career and personal life to help NR Narayana Murthy turn his Infosys dream into reality.

The chairperson of Infosys Foundation, an author, and philanthropist, Sudha married Infosys Technologies founder NR Narayana Murthy in 1978. Their wedding was a simple affair with just the family of the two. The whole wedding cost Rs 800 wherein both pitched in equal amount. In 1981, Murthy realized his big dream and it was the beginning for Infosys, one of the biggest names in software consulting. But before making any decision, Murthy gave her the choice. He said that both could not be at Infosys together, so he gave her the choice of joining Infosys, but she chose to pull back. A lot of reasons drove her to make that decision. As Murthy worked hard with co-founders (Nandan Nilekani among them) to realize his dreams, Sudha became the rock that kept their relationship and Murthy’s ambitions steady. She took the role of a homemaker and supported her husband but somewhere down the line she felt she lost her golden days. Sudha Murthy herself quoted – “As we progress and achieve bigger things in life, it becomes more and more difficult to find true relationships”. So she advises everyone to live their dreams to the fullest, keeping in mind family members and their effect on their personal/professional lives, balancing everything, and working towards a success-filled life of happiness.