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I'm just an average guy: Murthy

On his final day before sentimental shareholders as chairman of Infosys Ltd, India's iconic infotech company, Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy, 64, went out in a blaze of spectacle and emotion uncharacteristic of the 30 preceding years-and statements of characteristic understatement from Murthy himself. Sridhar K Chari reports.

business Updated: Jun 12, 2011 00:13 IST
Sridhar K Chari

"I thank God, this country, this world, family, relatives and friends for helping me, an average person with many below-average attributes, to add whatever little value I have to this country and the world."

On his final day before sentimental shareholders as chairman of Infosys Ltd, India's iconic infotech company, Nagavara Ramarao Narayana Murthy, 64, went out in a blaze of spectacle and emotion uncharacteristic of the 30 preceding years-and statements of characteristic understatement from Murthy himself.

"My life story should be a confidence booster for every average person in the world that he or she can indeed make a difference, at least in a small way," said Murthy, as he also expressed faith in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the first corporate leader to do so after the recent corruption controversies.

In a capacious hall in Bangalore's Christ University, shareholders at Infosys' 30th annual general meeting watched Murthy's head morphed on a figure that could only have been of anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, as a slide highlighted how Infosys paid Rs 2,500 crore in taxes last year.

"I am not saying anything," smiled V Balakrishnan, chief financial officer, who made the presentation.

Before he began, Balakrishnan turned to NRN and said: "Any resemblances to you are entirely intentional."

There was music, lilting old Hindi classics and pounding rock. There were glowing profit and growth figures interspersed with images of Murthy morphed onto bodies with rippling muscles and tight, black t-shirts-and Rajnikanth's robotic avatar.

Aware of the historic day, Infosys' leaders presented the big picture that India knows well.

Murthy was one of the seven men who started Infosys in 1981 with a capital of $250.

India's second-largest infotech company now employees 130,820 people and its revenues last fiscal were $6 billion, a market capitalisation of $36 billion.

On August 20, as Murthy turns 65, he will become Chairman Emeritus, fading into the corporate sunset, as a slide showed.

So, shareholders paid extraordinary tributes, led by a certain Mrs Mehta from Mumbai who quoted a popular Sufi song: "Infosys, teri oonchi shaan hai maula, meri arzi maan le maula, mujhe bhi thoda lift karade, mujhe bhi bonus dila de(Infosys, your prestige is high my lord, listen to my request, lift me too a bit, get me a bonus)."

As a bemused Murthy listened, Mrs Mehta (her full name was not available), who flew down from Mumbai to be here instead of joining in by videoconference, continued: "Jo baat tujme hai, woh tumhare tasveer main nahi (Your photo does not do you justice)."

She felicitated both Murthy and wife Sudha with flowers, then asked for a standing ovation. In unison, everyone in the hall rose and clapped thunderously.

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