BENGALURU: India faces many urgent problems, and bright young people should apply their minds to solving them, Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy said on Wednesday.
He was delivering the convocation address at the J N Tata Auditorium of the Indian Institute of Science.
India is home to the largest mass of illiterates in the world and the largest number of children with malnutrition, he observed.
“We have the poorest public health service in the world. We have the dirtiest rivers in the world. Our vehicles produce the highest carbon per vehicle in the world. We have the lowest per-capita usable water in the world. Our primary education is one of the lowest quality in the world,” the elder statesman of India’s information technology sector rued.
India has done nothing earthshaking in the last 60 years, Murthy told the gathering.
Murthy listed 10 major inventions from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the last 50 years: global positioning system, bionic prosthesis, microchip, e-mail, slow drug delivery and polymer scaffolds for human tissues, RSA encryption, text and speech recognition, fax, Viterbi algorithm and cybernetics.
He lamented that there had been no comparable contribution from India. “The only two ideas that have transformed the productivity of global corporations — the Global Delivery Model and the 24-hour workday — came from Infosys,” he said, referring to the company he founded. He said MIT’s inventions had come about when students and faculty had walked the untrodden path and asked unasked questions.
Age of Nehru
“Problems in India have not received enough attention after Nehru. Our youngsters must recreate the magic of the 1960s,” the Infosys emeritus chairman said.
He suggested ways for students to enhance the glory of IISc.
“The first requirement is to develop an independent, inquiring and problem-solving mindset. They must focus on learning concepts and use the knowledge to solve new and unstructured problems. Every new problem solved independently is a discovery,” Murthy said.
He advised students to continue reading technical books and journals. “I am 69 and continue to read every day,” he said.
Murthy said an extreme focus on exams had deprived Indian students of the long-term benefits of learning.
“However, from tomorrow, every day is a day of examination for you all. You have to solve the city’s and country’s problems,” he remarked.
About 300 students received their ME, M Tech, M Des, M Mgt, PhD, MS, and MSc degrees. Thirty medals were awarded individually.
IISc Director Anurag Kumar, former director Prof P Balaram and others were present.
Dr Rehana Sheikh received an award for the best PhD thesis. She has worked on the impact of climate change on water resources. She told Express, “Patterns of rain are changing. Water quality in rivers is changing. Extreme events such as floods and severe droughts are increasing. All this is causing farmers to change irrigation patterns.” Shantanu Pramanik received a gold medal and a cash award for being a topper in mechanical engineering. Abhay Raj was similarly honoured for topping the management course.
Success Mantra Murthy
described success as the ability to care for people and make them smile. “Have fun and be happy. Only a happy mind can make a positive contribution to society,” he told IISc scholars.