Indians Fight to be Called Backward Rather Than Forward – Narayana Murthy

At a convocation address at the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, in August 2001, N R Narayana Murthy, Chief Mentor of Infosys Technologies Limited, said “We have become, perhaps, the only nation in the world where people fight to be called backward rather than forward.

Source: Rediff, August 11, 2001

N R Narayana Murthy said that there was a need to have a relook at the reservation policy. “While the reservation in admissions to schools and financial assistance for economically weaker sections is desirable for a limited period, there are grave doubts whether economic backwardness should be determined by caste, as is done in India today”, he said at the convocation address at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi.

“No society that has shunned merit has succeeded in solving its problems and it is ironical that people here see sustenance of backwardness as an instrument of progress than turning to hard work“, he said.

“We have become, perhaps, the only nation in the world where people fight to be called backward rather than forward.”

He also hit out against the pre-1991 economic policies. “We adopted an economic model where the government took on the responsibility to create and sustain jobs without a regard for accountability and efficiency. This led to underemployment, inefficiency and demoralisation of the merited ones.”

“We have to understand that public sector interest is not public interest and the interest of the government is not the same as the interest of the people.”

Narayana Murthy said that high aspirations, confidence and action rather than rhetoric would lift the country out of the morass of poverty.

“We have to downplay rhetoric and focus on action.”

Indians should aspire high, act with self-confidence and fight apathy if the country was to progress, he said.

Narayana Murthy said that the thousand-year-long enslavement has bred apathy and we refuse to take proactive action even when the solution to a problem was staring us in the face.

“A fatalist mentality conveniently blames reality and refuses to take responsibility for solving problems.”

“We have to aspire high, as high aspirations will energise us to overcome limitations posed by the context. They engender and sustain hope and are a main fuel for progress””s, he said.

Narayana Murthy said that confidence was necessary for openness. “In these days of interconnected global village no nation desiring progress can isolate from the rest of the world and we have to adopt best practices of nations that have achieved progress”, he said.

Addressing the students, he said that in the last 50 years the nation’s social welfare efforts were ‘an unqualified disaster and even in technology, where we have made rapid advances, progress has been lopsided’.

“The educated ones among us have benefited from the sacrifices of our less fortunate brethren and so we have a greater opportunity and responsibility to contribute to the society.”

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