Suck Goes to High-Tech India


Don't get the wrong idea: much of Bangalore's vaunted success is the real thing. The prime example is always Infosys, the first Indian company ever to list on the Nasdaq. INFY has produced several hundred US-dollar millionaires, and, along with a few other massively successful companies, has planted in millions of minds a very important idea: you can create a fantastic amount of wealth in the space of a generation.

But it's not just the raw cash that's made INFY the most admired company in India. It is also, for lack of a better word, style. Infosys chairman and CEO Narayana Murthy, is legendary — truly one of most admired men in the nation — not just because he's rich (which he is; more or less a billion bucks worth) but because of how he's handled it.

First off, Murthy, a former flag-waving Socialist, created India's first employee stock-option plan at Infosys. Everyone at INFY gets shares. In the context of hierarchy-minded Indian corporate tradition, this was a move even more radical than it was in the US.

On a more personal level, Murthy and his wife still live (as everyone in Bangalore knows), in the same modest house they have since before Infosys went public. He eschews jet-setty living for gardening; he still wears a dhoti around that house, still gets up at the crack, still eats, when not at a business function, with the fingers of his right (and never his left) hand.

What Indians love, basically, is that he's Keeping it Real — not becoming some slick-haired Bombay business-wallah, but remaining a typical Indian husband, frequent-flyer platinum status notwithstanding. Many Indians are consequently crazy about him. They love the humility; most of all, they love the idea that their dreams of infinite wealth might not necessarily force them to abandon their identity. To put it another way, when was the last time you heard a Valley CEO discuss his daily prayer routine?

Five thousand years into Hinduism, India is not a place where values change for change's sake. By Murthy's own admission, what conversion to the New Economy takes is nothing less than a bit of schizophrenia, a split-personality syndrome he says Indians have always been good at, and even admired. Which is why he — the toweringly rich, hugely accomplished but still humble Hindu — has won the national media's reverence.

Murthy suggests that leading this double life represents a very Indian value. (The idea probably seems less strange to a culture where the # 1 deity, Lord Brahma, has four faces.) "We Indians are used to having two completely different personalities: one in public, one in private — we are pretty good at living one kind of life in the office and another at home." In the Murthy school, that's how you resolve the Indian ambivalence about "progress," the tension between modernization on the one hand and anxiety about losing traditions and identity on the other.


Speak your mind about today's Suck
Goes to India

Let's Go Bangalore!
E-Commerce, Mom and Pop-Style
The Accidental Feminist
Money Changes Everything
The Billionaire Socialist
Those Crazy Kids and Their Cult
From Hyderbad to Worse
Masterbuilders on the March!


[Previous Page]

Next...his door is always open

[Next Page]

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]