Most of us take access to tech for granted. Just the fact that you’re reading this on your phone or computer is testament to that.
At the recent Leadership Summit held at St. Xavier’s College, Narayana Murthy, co-founder of Infosys, says that when he was starting his company in the early 80s, the tech boom was yet to happen.
“It took us seven years to obtain a telephone connection. The highest priority was for government officials, the second highest priority was for retired government officials. I remember a story about C.M Stephen’s who was the communications minister at the time. Somebody went up to him and told him the telephones are not working. He told them they should be happy there is an instrument on their table because even madam Indira Ghandi telephone doesn’t work!”
Apart from telecommunication, travel was another big area of concern for Murthy and his growing company. “Those days, it would take about 50 visits to Delhi and about three years to get a license to import a computer worth $100,000. 50 visits to Delhi and three years. Each visit in those days would cost us about $2000 because the rupee then was then 6.2 rupees per dollar. The high prices of flying (taking train would take too long) you would spend $100,000 in obtaining the license before you even thought of importing a $100,000 computer,” Murthy said at the event. And going abroad wasn’t easy either.
“In order to visit aboard, you had to apply to RBI wait for 3 weeks and then you may get a positive reply. Most bureaucrats will not understand it as they used other channels and it was easy for them. But for us who were mortals, it was like that. When we came back we had to submit a store report,” Murthy added.But change did come. And for that he credits PV Narasimha Rao, Dr Manmohan Singh,Montek Singh Ahluwalia and P. Chidambaram. “These were the four architects ofeconomic reform. They did in one week what we didn’t manage in 45 years,” Murthy said.