Um, that would be N.R. Narayana Murthy, Infosys' co-founder and chief mentor.
You used to be a socialist who gave your money away. How does that go with heading a captialist organisation, doing business with America?
When I left the French software company where I first worked, I kept $450 for hitchhiking from Paris to Mysore, and donated the rest to the organisation "Brothers of the Third World".
I'm a capitalist in mind, a socialist at heart — a compassionate capitalist, because we need clear thinking about the creation of wealth and jobs. But for those of us who live in a poor country where the gap between the haves and have-nots is large, where suffering is visible, we need to have our hearts in the right place.
I see no conflict in being a capitalist and a socialist at the same time. As Bernard Shaw said, "If you're not an idealist in your 20s you have no heart, if you're an idealist in your 40s you have no brain."
Murthy has already announced that he will retire from his role as the chief mentor at Infosys. What does he plan to do?
I'm on the boards of several companies and universities worldwide. As it is, I spend a week each month in the U.S., Europe, Asia Pacific, and India. I'll continue to do that and may spend most of my Indian time at our Global Education Centre in Mysore among young people — they energise me. Youth is about confidence, enthusiasm, big dreams, new ideas, openness. Teaching is my primary interest — I have offers from well-known business schools. My son, who's doing his Ph. D. at Harvard, thinks I should do one, too! I'll read a lot. I'll be the non-executive chairman of Infosys, in charge of the board, responsible for governance — ensuring our value system remains intact. I'll go there once a month, retain an office there — but in another building.
And, no, he doesn't plan to run for public office.
... I know my limitations. Managing people with homogeneous backgrounds and aspirations is not the same as managing a country with such multiple divides — rich and poor, educated and illiterate, urban and rural.
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Do read this interview from six years ago in which he describes his transformation from a 'staunch leftist' to a 'compassionate capitalist'.
What prompted your change of heart from being a staunch leftist?
After my Paris stay, I donated my earnings and with $450 in my pocket decided to return home overland. I came to Nis, a border town between the then Yugoslavia and Bulgaria to take the Sofia Express. I struck up conversation with a girl in the compartment. After about 45 minutes the train stopped, the police took the girl away, ransacked my backpack, and put me in a room that had no mattress and a window 10 ft high. They kept me there for 60 hours after which they freed me saying that since I was from a friendly country they were letting me go. I felt that if this system treats friends this way then I did not want anything to do with it. This experience really shook me.
So the socialist in you became a committed capitalist?
I am a 100% free marketeer but I call myself a compassionate capitalist. While I’m very conservative in economic matters I’m very liberal about social matters. But I have no illusions about socialism. In a country like India, when we have to make capitalism an attractive alternative to people, it is extremely important for us to show tremendous compassion to the less fortunate. That doesn’t mean that you should give jobs to people who don’t deserve them or that you should make less profits but wherever you can show compassion you should.