After a bitter train journey in Serbia that put him behind bars, Narayana Murthy became a 'compassionate capitalist'

A train ride across Serbia in 1974 changed the course of the Infy founder's life.

BCCL
This incident pushed Narayana Murthy towards taking the plunge into entrepreneurship.
MUMBAI: A bitter experience on a train in 1974 in Nis, a border town between what is now Serbia and Bulgaria, turned N R Narayana Murthy into a "compassionate capitalist", leading him to create Infosys, the country's IT bellwether. Recalling the incident, Murthy said he was engaged in a conversation with a girl, who could only understand French, but it landed him in trouble.

"We were talking about life in Bulgaria. I think the boy, who was accompanying the girl, got upset with us for some reason. So, he went and brought the police," Murthy said on Sunday while addressing the audience at a tech fest organized by IIT-Bombay, through a video link.

The Bulgarian guards took Murthy's passport, luggage and dragged him on the platform. He was kept in an 8X8 room, with primitive toilet facilities, for a few days.


"I thought they would open the door in the morning and get me some breakfast since I was the state guest, but nothing happened. I lost all hope of eating anything," he said.
In 1974​, Narayana ​Murthy was engaged in a conversation with a girl, who could only understand French, but it landed him in trouble.
In 1974, Narayana Murthy was engaged in a conversation with a girl, who could only understand French, but it landed him in trouble.

The next morning, police took Murthy to the platform and pushed him into the guard's compartment of a departing freight train. At this point, Murthy had not had anything to eat or drink for five days in a row.

The guards said, "Look, you are from a friendly country called India, so we are letting you go but we will give you your passport when you reach Istanbul."
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If a country treats friends like this, Murthy thought to himself, he would not want to be part of a communist country ever.

"That cued me from being a confused leftist to a determined compassionate capitalist," he said.

That incident pushed Murthy towards taking the plunge into entrepreneurship.

He said his first attempt at entrepreneurship was a company called Softronics focused on providing IT services to the domestic market, in Pune, which he closed as he could not see any future prospects.
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Patience, Perseverance, Passion: What School & Life Taught Mukesh Ambani, Narayana Murthy
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"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." - William Butler Yeats

Teachers form an integral part of one’s life, mentoring and shaping up minds in an environment away from home.. From inculcating the right values to nurturing the spirit of inquiry and truth, teachers, in schools, colleges and universities, have often been the guiding force behind many success stories.

On Teacher’s Day, that marks the birth anniversary of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, we take a look at the almae matres of some of the leading names in India’s business world that have helped shape their life and thinking.

In Pic: Mukesh Ambani (left) and Narayana Murthy (right)

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." - William Butler Yeats Teachers form an integral part of one’s life, mentoring and shaping up minds in an environment away f..
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The Mahindra & Mahindra chairman spent his early years at a boarding school in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, completing his primary education from The Lawrence School, Lovedale - where he reportedly even learnt weaving, picking it over woodwork. The then-young Mahindra didn’t aim to join the business world, and rather wanted to pursue film-making.

A part of his love for cinema came from accompanying his mother, Indira, to movie premieres.In addition to being a college history teacher, she was also an actor before she got married.

Having finished school, he joined the Sir J. J. College of Architecture, but the college went on strike and he left for foreign shores majoring in Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard, which covered various disciplines including film, photography and art.

But life had other plans, and he had to forgo dreams of joining the entertainment industry.

He went on to follow in his father’s footsteps, completing his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1981, before joining the family business.

But while the dream and career path changed for the 64-year-old India Inc boss, the one thing that has remained constant over the years is his dedication towards the cause of education. The Group, through its philanthropic arm, the KC Mahindra Trust, focuses on promoting literacy, operating several vocational schools, the Mahindra United World College, and also offering grants and scholarships. The group’s Nanhi Kali project also works towards the education of young girls in the country.

The Mahindra & Mahindra chairman spent his early years at a boarding school in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, completing his primary education from The Lawrence School, Lovedale - where he reportedly even learnt ..
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Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy, popularly known just as Narayana Murthy, was born in Sidlaghatta, Karnataka where he grew up attending a government school.

After completing his school education, he enrolled in the National Institute of Engineering and graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 1967. With a passion to always do better, he went on to earn his Master's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur in 1969.

Education has always been close to the septuagenarian's heart; and he has served as a member on the boards of various institutions including Cornell University, Wharton School, the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and the Rhodes Trust at Oxford. The Infosys boss was also the Chairman of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad - which is also the place where he began his career as the chief systems programmer.

Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy, popularly known just as Narayana Murthy, was born in Sidlaghatta, Karnataka where he grew up attending a government school.After completing his school education, he ..
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The Chairperson & Managing Director of Biocon Limited Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw grew-up attending the Bishop Cotton Girls High School in what was then Bangalore.The top boss spent a major part of her education years in the IT city, where she also attended Bangalore University, earning a bachelor’s degree in science (Zoology Hons.).

Mazumdar - who has been named among TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world - completed her Master’s in malting and brewing from Ballarat College, Melbourne University.

The Chairperson & Managing Director of Biocon Limited Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw grew-up attending the Bishop Cotton Girls High School in what was then Bangalore.The top boss spent a major part of her educa..
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One of the richest people in the world, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani was once just another student at Mumbai’s Hill Grange High School located at Peddar Road. As a young school-going boy, Ambani was accompanied by his younger brother Anil and now-close friend Anand Jain.

The business tycoon went on to study engineering, completing his BE in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology (UDCT), Matunga in Mumbai. He later enrolled for an MBA at Stanford University but dropped out to join a then-growing Reliance.

Though the 62-year-old had to leave his degree mid-way, daughter Isha followed in his footsteps, completing her Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Stanford Business School last year.

Not just in her father’s footsteps, the RIL heiress also took a page out of her mother Nita’s notebook and took up a teaching job at the Stanford nursery. Nita Ambani, who was a teacher before she got married, has been a staunch advocate of education and has founded, and runs the Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai.

One of the richest people in the world, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani was once just another student at Mumbai’s Hill Grange High School located at Peddar Road. As a young school-going bo..
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Azim Premji, born on July 24, 1945 in then-Bombay, packed his bags for Stanford University after completing his schooling in the country. But all didn't go as per plan, and the 74-year-old had to cut short an engineering course at the university, and return to India to pick up the family baton after his father’s death in 1966.

Azim Premji, born on July 24, 1945 in then-Bombay, packed his bags for Stanford University after completing his schooling in the country. But all didn't go as per plan, and the 74-year-old had to cu..
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