“How long can you keep birds in cages when their wings are strong and they are ready to fly? We can give our children only two things in life which are essential. Strong roots and powerful wings. Then they may fly anywhere and live independently. Of all the luxuries in life, the greatest luxury is getting freedom of the right kind.”
Sudha Murthy is one of India’s most beloved storytellers. Her work appeals to both children and young adults. Born in 1950, she became the first female engineer to be hired at the largest auto-manufacturer in India, TELCO. She has written not only novels, but also short stories, travelogues, technical books, and books for children. She has received several awards over the years, including the R.K. Narayana’s Award for Literature, and even the Padma Shri, which is the fourth highest civilian award in India.
She was born in Shiggaon, Haveri in Karnataka. Her family was extremely study-oriented and sought to educate her in a time where women’s education was not very common. She was a determined student, and never missed a day of class as she was aware of the rampant misogyny which was prevalent in India in the 70s, and knew that no one would assist her if she missed classes. She never let anyone break her spirit or her love for education. She broke several societal barriers by pursuing Engineering and Computer Science and was even awarded a gold medal for both of her degrees by the Chief Minister of Karnataka.
In 1974, Sudha Murthy planned to go abroad to pursue her doctorate, until she came across an advertisement put up by TELCO on the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, calling for young and hardworking engineers, and under the advertisement, it was written, ‘Lady candidates need not apply.’ This agitated her, and she wrote a strongly worded postcard to Tata, expressing her surprise over their gender discrimination. A few days later she received a telegram from JRD Tata and was granted a special interview. Soon the job was hers, and she made history by being the first female engineer to be hired at TELCO.
Sudha Murthy helped her husband N.R. Narayana Murthy build Infosys, which is an Indian MNC providing business consultation, information technology and outsourcing. In 1996 she started Infosys foundation and is its trustee till date. A nonprofit organisation, it aims to support the underprivileged sections of society. The foundation provides healthcare, education and promotes art and craft amongst the underprivileged. She is a philanthropist and has expressed her love for this country and passion to serve it several times. She also started the Library Project and has established 60,000 libraries to date.
One cannot talk about Sudha Murthy without mentioning her books. A prolific award-winning writer in both English and Kannada, her books have been translated in all major languages. Her books were simple, yet profound and can make you laugh, cry and feel nostalgic at the same time. She was raised by her parents and maternal grandparents, and drew inspiration from her experiences to write her first notable book, “How I Taught My Grandmother To Read and other stories.” Her other works include Grandma’s bag of stories, The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk, The Mother I Never Knew and many others.
Sudha Murthy is an inspiration for every single woman in this country. Her work has continuously broken several barriers and improved society in every way it could. Her story is an extremely influential one.