Sudha Murthy is the chairperson of Infosys Foundation, a non-profit organisation. She is a well-known Indian author.
Sudha was born on Saturday, 19 August 1950 (age 69 years; as in 2019), in Shiggaon, Karnataka. Her zodiac sign is Leo. She did B.E. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from B.V.B. College of Engineering and Technology, Karnataka and stood first in her class and for that, she received a gold medal from the then Chief Minister of Karnataka, Devaraj Urs. Later, she joined the Indian Institute of Science, Karnataka to complete her M.E. in Computer Science. She again stood first in her class and received a gold medal. MBA Rendezvous
Height (approx.): 5′ 2″
Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper
Eye Colour: Black
Family, Caste & Husband
She was born into a Brahmin Hindu Family. Wikipedia Her father, Dr R. H. Kulkarni used to work as a surgeon. Her mother’s name is Vimala Kulkarni. Sudha has one brother and two sisters. Her brother Shrinivas Kulkarni, is a well-known astronomer who has received Dan David Prize in 2017. Her eldest sister, Sunanda Kulkarni is a gynaecologist in a government hospital in Bangalore. Her elder sister, Jaishree Deshpande is the founder of the ‘Deshpande Foundation’ and is the wife of Gururaj Deshpande, co-founder of Chelmsford.
She started her first job in TELCO, where she met N. R. Narayana Murthy through one of her friends, Prasanna. In an interview, while sharing her initial meeting with Narayana, she said,
Most of the books that Prasanna lent me had Murthy’s name on them which meant that I had a preconceived image of the man. Contrary to expectation, Murthy was shy, bespectacled and an introvert. When he invited us for dinner, I was a bit taken aback as I thought the young man was making a very fast move. I refused since I was the only girl in the group. But Murthy was relentless and we all decided to meet for dinner the next day at 7.30 p.m. at Green Fields hotel on the Main Road, Pune.”
Sudha used to hang out with Murthy in parties, movies, and restaurants. Soon, both started developing a liking for each other, and one day, Narayana proposed her for marriage. Initially, Sudha’s father was against their marriage as Murthy was not earning much. Later, Murthy quit his job and started working as a general manager in Patni computers in Bombay. Sudha’s father was happy with Murthy’s new job and agreed for their marriage.
Sudha and Murthy got married on 10 February 1978 at Murthy’s house. The expenditure on marriage was only Rs. 800, which was shared by Sudha and Murthy. In 1980, the couple was blessed with a baby girl, Akshata Murty, and in 1983, they had a baby boy, Rohan Murty.
Sudha started her career as a development engineer with TELCO in Pune. In February 1974, she came across a vacancy advertisement of TELCO but on its footnote was written: “female candidates need not apply.” She was hurt by such gender discrimination in a big company like TELCO, so, she decided to write a postcard to JRD Tata (then chairman of TELCO). In an interview, when she was asked how she got her first job, she said,
After posting the postcard I forgot about it. A pleasant surprise awaited. A telegram soon arrived asking to appear for an interview with a promise of reimbursement of first-class fare both ways.”
In 1981, Sudha’s husband, N. R. Narayana Murthy, decided to shift to Pune to start his own company Infosys. Sudha had to leave her job at TELCO, Mumbai. In an interview, she shared an incident when she was about to quit her job in TELCO, she said,
It was again a chance meeting as I was going downstairs and JRD Tata was climbing upstairs in Bombay House. “I told him I was leaving the job.” He said, “You fought so much for the job and now you are quitting it?” I told him that my husband wanted to start the Infosys Adventure. And then JRD turned almost a soothsayer to say, “If you make lots of money you must give it back to society as you have received so much love from it.” That was the last time I saw him.”
She left her job and shifted to Pune along with her husband and joined ‘Walchand group of Industries’ as a senior systems analyst. Later, in 1996, Sudha co-founded the ‘Infosys Foundation,’ a non-profit organisation with an aim to help the underprivileged section of the society. The NPO is working with a mission to provide aid in education, rural development, healthcare, arts and culture, and destitute care. Infosys Foundation has one of its branches in the USA, with an aim to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and community startups.
Sudha’s ‘Infosys Foundation’ has built more than 2300 houses in flood-affected areas and more than 70,000 libraries for schools in India. They have helped in building more than 10,000 toilets in the rural areas of Bengaluru. They have helped the people affected by the natural disasters like the tsunami in Tamil Nadu and Andaman, earthquake in Kutch, hurricane and floods in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and drought in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Apart from being a philanthropist, she has been working as a visiting professor at the PG Center of Bangalore University and has also taught at the Christ University, Bengaluru. She is one of the well-known authors of India. She has written many famous books in English and Kannada languages including Samanyaralli Asamanyaru, Guttondu Heluve, Hakkiya Teradalli, Sukeshini Mattu Itara Makkala Kathegalu, How I Taught My Grandmother to Read, The Accolades Galore, Dollar Bahu, and Three thousand stitches.
The registration license of her NGO Infosys Foundation was cancelled in 2019 by the Home Ministry of India. Her NGO had failed to provide income and expenditure statement on foreign fundings for the previous few years and for the violation of the norms its registration was cancelled. Economic Times
Awards & Honours
Karnataka Rajyotsava, State Award
2000: For achievement in the field of literature and social work
2001: For excellent social work in the year 2000
2004: For Social Work By Sri Raja-Lakshmi Foundation in Chennai
R.K. Narayana’s Award
2006: For Literature
2006: For Social Work
Attimabbe Award from the Government of Karnataka
2011: For excellence in Kannada Literature
Crossword-Raymond Book Awards
2018: Life Time Achievement
IIT Kanpur Award
2019: Honorary Degree, Doctor of Science
Note: She has many more accolades to her name.
Neralu, #1/2 (1878), 11th Main, 39th Cross, 4th T Block, Jayanagar, Bangalore 560011, Karnataka
In 2004, her estimated net worth was Rs 7.75 billion (approx). Rediff
- Actress(es): Saira Banu and Waheeda Rehman
- Film(s): Naya Daur (1957), Gunga Jumna (1961), Devdas (1955), Mughal-E-Azam (1960), Kohinoor (1960), Junglee (1961), Anand (1971), Kati Patang (1971), Amar Prem (1972), and Abhimaan (1973)
- Song(s): Dil Tadap Tadap and Suhana Safar from Madhumati (1958), Mere Mehboob Tujhe from Mere Mehboob (1963)
- Businessmen: Ratan Tata and JRD Tata
- Sudha was the only female student in the class of 600 students. The principal of college had admitted her on three conditions. He asked Sudha to always wear saree, not visit the canteen, and not to talk to the men in college.
- In the late 60s, she used to carry a bob haircut and used to wear jeans t-shirt which was a scandal back then.
- Her hobbies include reading books, travelling, and watching movies. In 2014, in an interview with Filmfare, she said,
I have 500 DVDs that I watch in my home theatre. I see a film in totality – its direction, editing… all aspects.” People know me as a social worker, as an author… but no one knows me as a movie buff. That’s why I am glad to do this interview with Filmfare. The cineaste, who even went to the extent of watching 365 films in 365 days confides, “I could have actually become a film journalist. I never get bored of movies!”
- Sudha gave Rs. 10,000 to her husband to start his own company Infosys, In an interview, she shared this incident,
Typical of Murthy, he just had a dream and no money. So I gave him Rs 10,000 which I had saved for a rainy day, without his knowledge and told him, this is all I have. Take it. I give you three years sabbatical leave. I will take care of the financial needs of our house. You go and chase your dreams without any worry. But you have only three years!”
- She never joined Infosys even though she was well-qualified and experienced. She revealed the reason behind this in an interview,
Murty said he did not want a husband and wife team at Infosys. I was shocked since I had the relevant experience and technical qualifications. He said, Sudha if you want to work with Infosys, I will withdraw, happily. I was pained to know that I will not be involved in the company my husband was building and that I would have to give up a job that I am qualified to do and love doing. It took me a couple of days to grasp the reason behind Murty’s request. I realized that to make Infosys a success one had to give one’s 100 per cent. One had to be focussed on it alone with no other distractions.”
- Interestingly, there are two photos hanged on one of the walls of her NGO one is of her first employer, JRD Tata’s and other is of Jamsetji’s (a plaque given to her by the Dalai Lama).
- In her book ‘Three Thousand Stitches’ she shared an incident when a lady at the Heathrow Airport called her ‘cattle class’ for wearing salwar kameez.
- She appeared in ETV Kannada’s TV serial ‘Preethi Illada Mele’ (2006), and later, in 2017, she did a cameo in the Kannada movie ‘Uppu, Huli, Khara.’
- In 2019, she resigned as the member of Tirupati Temple Board.
- On 29 November 2019, she appeared in the Karamveer episode of KBC 11. As a gesture of respect, Amitabh Bachchan touched her feet and welcomed her on the show. Sudha gifted him a bedsheet made by devadasis.
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