Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship 'Make in India' campaign to turn the country into a global manufacturing hub was doomed to fail unless Indians disciplined themselves, said industrialist NR Narayana Murthy at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Sunday.
Murthy, who became the face of the country’s software revolution after he founded Infosys in 1981 that recorded a $31-billion market capitalisation last year, praised previous Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his team of P Chidambaram and Montek Singh Ahluwalia for pushing liberalisation. "People don’t remember the time when you had to wait five years to get a telephone connection like we did," Murthy said in conversation with journalist Rahul Jacob.
The 68-year-old endorsed Modi’s mantra of "Minimum government, maximum governance", but said no one man can lead India given the diverse factors at play in every sector. "As long as there’s a good regulatory agency, I think the business of business should be left to the private sector," he said.
Often described as the father of the Indian IT sector, Murthy encouraged budding entrepreneurs but said the bureaucracy needed a complete overhaul. "Our bureaucrats function today like the British did a hundred years ago," he said, while adding that Indians must become more punctual and disciplined to succeed.
Murthy also narrated a 1974 incident when he was dragged through a train platform and kept confined for 72 hours without food or drink while travelling between Bulgaria and Serbia after he tried to strike up a conversation with a French woman and her male companion didn’t like it. "That event shaped my transformation from a confused leftist to a determined-compassionate capitalist," he said. "It was, in some way, the last nail in the coffin, so far as my belief in communism was concerned."