Sudha Murthy, an eminent Indian educator, author, and philanthropist, is a name synonymous with selfless service and profound literary contributions. Her life's journey is a testament to her unwavering commitment to making a difference in the lives of countless individuals. As the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation and a prolific writer, she has left an indelible mark in the domains of social work and literature. This article delves into her early life, career, philanthropic endeavours, and literary achievements.
Sudha Murthy, formerly known as Sudha Kulkarni, was born on August 19, 1950, in Shiggaon, Haveri, Karnataka, India. She was raised in a Kannada-speaking family, her father being a surgeon, and her mother a school teacher. Her upbringing was strongly influenced by her parents and maternal grandparents. These early experiences sowed the seeds for her first notable work, "How I Taught My Grandmother to Read," which was followed by "Wise and Otherwise" and other captivating stories.
Educationally, Sudha Murthy is a distinguished alumnus of Fergusson College, Pune. She obtained her BEng in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the B.V.B. College of Engineering & Technology (now known as KLE Technological University). Her academic journey continued with an MEng in Computer Science from the prestigious Indian Institute of Science, an institution renowned for producing some of India's finest minds.
Sudha Murthy's career is a testament to her determination and pioneering spirit. She began her professional journey as a computer science and engineering enthusiast. Notably, she made history as the first female engineer to be employed by India's largest automobile manufacturer, TATA Engineering and Locomotive Company (TELCO). Her tenacity and commitment were evident when she penned a postcard to the company's Chairman, highlighting the gender bias against women at TELCO. In response, she was granted a special interview and was hired promptly.
Her career also took her to the Walchand Group of Industries in Pune, where she served as a Senior Systems Analyst. The corporate world could not confine her vast aspirations, and she eventually moved towards academia, becoming a Visiting Professor at the PG Center of Bangalore University.
In 1996, Sudha Murthy embarked on a remarkable journey when she founded the Infosys Foundation, a public charitable trust dedicated to a variety of philanthropic causes. This marked a turning point in her life, as she shifted her focus to social service and charitable activities.
Murthy has written and published numerous books across various genres, including novels, non-fiction, travelogues, technical books, and memoirs. Her literary works have been translated into all major Indian languages. She also contributes as a columnist to both English and Kannada newspapers.
Sudha Murthy's contributions to philanthropy are both extensive and impactful. The Infosys Foundation, established in 1996, has been instrumental in uplifting the underprivileged and underserved sections of society. The foundation focuses on various domains, including healthcare, education, and rural development. It has spearheaded initiatives to provide computer and library facilities to government schools in Karnataka, and it has been a beacon of support for several orphanages.
Sudha Murthy is also associated with the public healthcare initiatives of the Gates Foundation, further showcasing her commitment to making quality healthcare accessible to all.
Sudha Murthy's personal life reflects her strong family bonds and the pursuit of her passions. She is married to N. R. Narayana Murthy, the co-founder of Infosys, and together they form a power couple known for their dedication to social causes. Their two children, including the renowned fashion designer Akshata Murty, are a testament to their harmonious family life.
Sudha Murthy's siblings include prominent personalities such as Caltech astrophysicist Shrinivas Kulkarni and Jaishree Deshpande, who co-founded the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT. Her familial relationships are a reflection of her commitment to fostering excellence in various fields.
Sudha Murthy's contributions to society and literature have garnered her numerous awards and recognitions. Notable among these are:
Padma Shri (2006): She received India's fourth-highest civilian award for her exceptional social work.
Padma Bhushan (2023): In 2023, Sudha Murty was conferred with the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian award.
Crossword Book Award (2018): She received this prestigious award in the popular (Non-Fiction) category for her remarkable contributions to literature.
These accolades are a testament to her unwavering commitment to making the world a better place through her philanthropic endeavours and literary works.
Sudha Murthy's literary contributions are extensive and multilingual. Her books are cherished for their rich storytelling and cultural insights. Some of her notable works include:
"Wise and Otherwise" (2002): A collection of short stories that provide valuable life lessons.
"Mahashweta" (2002): A novel that tells the story of a woman's resilience and strength.
"The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk" (2012): An inspirational book that touches upon life's profound moments.
"Dollar Bahu" (2013): Originally written in Kannada as "Dollar Bahu," this novel explores the cultural contrasts in the lives of an Indian family living in India and the United States.
"The Magic Drum and Other Favorite Stories" (2013): A collection of enchanting tales.
"The Mother I Never Knew" (2014): A poignant novel exploring the complexities of human relationships.
"The Magic of the Lost Temple" (2015): A children's book that takes young readers on an adventurous journey.
"The Serpent's Revenge" (2016): A collection of captivating mythological stories.
"Three Thousand Stitches" (2017): A memoir that offers insights into Sudha Murthy's life and experiences.
These works, among many others, exemplify Sudha Murty's ability to captivate readers with her storytelling while imparting valuable life lessons.
Sudha Murthy's life and work are emblematic of the transformative power of literature and philanthropy. Her commitment to social causes, her pioneering spirit as an engineer, and her literary contributions have made her a revered figure in India and beyond. Her ability to touch hearts and inspire change is a testament to the enduring impact of one individual's dedication to making the world a better place. Sudha Murty is a true luminary, whose legacy will continue to shine brightly for generations to come.