1. No earth shaking invention from India in 60 years: Narayana Murthy

No earth shaking invention from India in 60 years: Narayana Murthy

In a blunt message, IT czar N R Narayana Murthy today said India has failed to generate even a single "earth-shaking" invention in the past 60 years that could become a household name globally".

By: | New Delhi | Published: July 15, 2015 8:09 PM
narayana murthy

In a blunt message, IT czar N R Narayana Murthy today said India has failed to generate even a single “earth-shaking” invention in the past 60 years that could become a household name globally. (Reuters)

In a blunt message, IT czar N R Narayana Murthy today said India has failed to generate even a single “earth-shaking” invention in the past 60 years that could become a household name globally.

Besides, none of the Prime Ministers since Jawaharlal Nehru have paid any attention to the need for impactful research from the country, Murthy said while delivering the convocation address at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science here.

“Our youngsters have not done much impactful research work despite being equal to their counterparts in intellect and energy in Western universities,” he said.

He referred to the first Prime Minister’s visit to the US in 1962, where he exhorted the about-to-finish Phds to come back to the country and play a major role in creating an India where a poorest child in the remotest village had access to decent education, healthcare, nutrition and shelter.

The result, he said, was advances in atomic energy, the space programme and other areas.

The magic of 60s should be recreated, he said.

“For that we have to recreate an environment of utmost respect for scholarship and for our Directors and faculty in the corridors of the government, among bureaucrats, politicians and in our society.

“We have to become more open minded in welcoming foreign intellectuals and students. We have to create opportunities for our students and faculty to spend time at well known universities abroad,” he added.

Almost all inventions such as cars, electric bulb, radio, television, computers, Internet, wifi, MRI, laser, robots and many other gadgets and technology happened, “thanks to the research by Western Universities”, Murthy said.

He added: “On the other hand, let us pause and ask what the contributions of Indian institutions of higher learning, particularly IISc and IITs, have been over the last sixty-plus years to make our society and the world a better place?

“Is there one invention from India that has become a household name in the globe? Is there one technology that has transformed the productivity of global corporations? Is there one idea that has lead to an earth shaking invention to delight global citizens?”

Co-founder of the country’s major IT firm Infosys said: “Folks, the reality is that there is no such contribution from India in the last 60. The only two ideas that have transformed the productivity of global corporations — The Global Delivery Model and the 24-hours workday — came from the company called Infosys.”

Listing 10 major inventions that Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US has created in the last 50 years including Global Positioning System, Bionic Prostheses and Microchip, Murthy said these happened because students and faculty “walked the untrodden path, asked the unasked questions and used their intellectual prowess to take huge leaps.

“They demonstrated unusual courage to achieve the plausibly-impossible. The story is similar at many other western institutions of higher education”.

He said there must be free flow of ideas between our intellectuals and foreign scholars. “Our younger faculty must have full freedom to pursue their line of research without hindrance.”

Pointing to the problems plaguing the country such as illiteracy, child malnutrition, poor public health service, Murthy said, “I can go on and on. The important thing is to recognise that this country has no shortage of problems to be solved urgently.”

He said: “Youngsters are our best hope, and there is no difference in the intellect, enthusiasm, energy and confidence between the young students at western universities and at IISc.

“Yet, when our students leave the portals of these institutions, there is not much impactful work they have accomplished in research here. What is worse is that there is not much impactful work they accomplish when they go into the real world here in India,” he said.

“This is an issue that the elders of our society like academicians, politicians, bureaucrats and corporate leaders must debate deeply and act urgently if we have to leave a better world for our children and grandchildren,” he added.

  1. B
    Balaji
    Jul 16, 2015 at 10:23 am
    To be honest, Indian kids & youths are more inclined towards DID, Nach Baliye & other reality shows rather than core of science & engineering. Even IIT, IIM & IISc p out are more interested in grabbing packages at MNC's for doing plain vanilla ADM & AMS work. Our start ups are very much interested in copying western ideas & business models like Ola from Uber, Flipkart from Amazon. We all are part of this process. So we are equally responsible & should take blame on ourselves.....
    Reply
    1. R
      Raj
      Jul 16, 2015 at 6:15 am
      We have perfected a term called bureaucracy ,drafting of opaque laws,rules,regulations which can be interpreted in various forms depending on where a higher weight is placed. Some drastic change to be done ,one doubts whether our ruling cl will let go their powers.
      Reply
      1. R
        Rahul
        Jul 16, 2015 at 3:19 am
        Our invention? The professors from IISc and IITs verbally attack if anyone asks about the quality of research output from those insutes - that is the invention from IISc and IITs.
        Reply
        1. R
          Raja..
          Jul 15, 2015 at 10:03 pm
          Mr. Narayana murthy !!!! You could not do justice to your own employees in Infosys, how do you speak to India ?
          Reply
          1. R
            Ramesh Kumar
            Jul 16, 2015 at 12:34 am
            Indians lose all their energy trying to get basics from socialist inspired centralized systems that don't care for the citizens. Where is time and energy left for innovation? Lets first focus on eliminating pot d roads, power cuts, lack of water supply, defective equipment - then we can talk about innovation. Our innovations are of no use to the rest of the world - since they have overcome straight forward problems. There are no overhead tanks abroad - since water supply is continous. So developed countries dont need our Sintex overhead tanks. Or the Sintex tank for within the bathroom in apartments because the water supply is not 24 hours. The advanced world does not have such problems.
            Reply
            1. R
              Robin
              Jul 16, 2015 at 12:36 am
              Mr. Raja, the issue discussed is not about "justice to all, but failure to invent or discover that impacts our society.
              Reply
              1. P
                Prasad
                Jul 16, 2015 at 1:08 am
                our invention are in corruption, day by day we are inventing new ways of curruption
                Reply
                1. p
                  prof.jitendra
                  Jul 16, 2015 at 4:29 pm
                  the biggest problem is that we cant listen truth.
                  Reply
                  1. S
                    SK Rao
                    Jul 16, 2015 at 1:25 am
                    Exactly. And that is the good thing. Inventions must NOT be earth shattering. Today, most inventions are exactly that - earth shattering. Causing pollution. Damage. Invitation to disasters. If this is what an invention is, then stop inventing. Please. For the sake of the earth!
                    Reply
                    1. S
                      Sreelatha
                      Jul 16, 2015 at 1:17 pm
                      This is the problem with us.When someone comments on something we will try to find and point out the negatives of that person and forget the actual thing to be concentrated.
                      Reply
                      1. V
                        Vikranth
                        Jul 16, 2015 at 3:28 pm
                        Well, many of the technologies created in the Western Universities as Mr. Murthy mentioned, were funded directly or indirectly by the Military-Industrial Complex of the Superpowers, right from the time of the 'World Wars' and through the 'Cold War' era and now to the 'Islamic Terrorism' era. These Research programs in Science were funded by the Military to gain an edge over their rival Superpower and not for some altruistic reasons (which may have been the Scientists' motives in the first place). What was once called Imperialism or Colonialism has now been further strengthened by these technologies in the form of Economic Imperialism against developing nations, and outright Militaristic Imperialism against under-developed nations, by the Superpowers, aided and abetted by Multi-national Capitalists with vested interests across the globe. I admit it is quite ironical to hear a leader of a MNC talk about People's empowerment through S&T, when the world has seen time and again that ultimately Businesses are there for making Profit over anything ethical, moral. I didn't see any MNC complain when USA waged an illegal war on Iraq killing hundreds of thousands of innocents or toppling governments across the wide world. It certainly doesn't prevent Mr. Murthy from sending over thousands of IT professionals to USA every year. I also would like to place the blame on the Scientists for forsaking Ethics, Morals in their pursuit of Knowledge. Did not Robert Oppenheimer nor Heisenburg know the disastrous consequences of pursuing the creation of the Atomic Bomb? And yet they did and look what this has resulted in? The Atomic Bomb has resulted in an unprecedented Arms Race right through the Cold War era and to the present 'US vs Islamic Middle East vs China' era, thereby creating more global tensions than ever before. And not just in the field of Particle Physics, but take the Genetics (Genetic Modification of Nature), Robotics, Eugenics; everywhere there is the scenario of Scientists blindly or immorally pursuing Knowledge without thinking about the consequences of furthur empowering the Military-Industrial Complexes of the world or thinking about the future generations. So where has Modern S&T led to? Technology may have helped in providing Healthcare, Transportation of Goods and Services, but has it not equally if not more, resulted in exploitation, genocide, catastrophes and ruined nations' economies by aiding Multi-national Capitalist Co-operations to infringe on other nations' sovereignity and steal their resources. Can it not be said that Technology has further camouflaged the selfish and exploitative acts of the powerful, corrupt and the greedy people of Planet Earth than ever before, which has resulted in Environmental Destruction and the deprivation and marginalization of the poor and helpless, than ever before? Has any of the Exploitative powers answered for their actions during the Colonial era or the modern Economic Imperialism era? It is one thing for Mr. Murthy to question people for not pursuing Science pionately; but he should not forget that more important than that is to bridge the rich-poor divide, motivate and empower the poor and helpless, not just in India but across the globe (even within these so-called 'Developed Nations' where 1% of the total potion holds 90% of the country's wealth, and where there is more social unrest than every before, where there is a lack of familial values and systems thereby resulting in people living discontented lives and suffering from mental depressions and other ills and addictions) and show the world that Justice is applicable not just to the marginalized or the common person, but to the high and mighty as well. Until that happens, technology is yet another tool in the hands of the rich and the powerful. We do not need more 'Scientists' (in the western context of the word) in the world; we need more Courageous, Selfless and Compionate people willing to take on the responsibility of empowering the marginalized of the world, and willing to take on the Powerful, Corrupt and Greedy people of the world.
                        Reply
                        1. V
                          Vikranth
                          Jul 16, 2015 at 3:33 pm
                          Well, many of the technologies created in the Western Universities as Mr. Murthy mentioned, were funded directly or indirectly by the Military-Industrial Complex of the Superpowers, right from the time of the 'World Wars' and through the 'Cold War' era and now to the 'Islamic Terrorism' era. These Research programs in Science were funded by the Military to gain an edge over their rival Superpower and not for some altruistic reasons (which may have been the Scientists' motives in the first place). What was once called Imperialism or Colonialism has now been further strengthened by these technologies in the form of Economic Imperialism against developing nations, and outright Militaristic Imperialism against under-developed nations, by the Superpowers, aided and abetted by Multi-national Capitalists with vested interests across the globe. I admit it is quite ironical to hear a leader of a MNC talk about People's empowerment through S&T, when the world has seen time and again that ultimately Businesses are there for making Profit over anything ethical, moral. I didn't see any MNC complain when USA waged an illegal war on Iraq killing hundreds of thousands of innocents or toppling governments across the wide world. It certainly doesn't prevent Mr. Murthy from sending over thousands of IT professionals to USA every year. I also would like to place the blame on the Scientists for forsaking Ethics, Morals in their pursuit of Knowledge. Did not Robert Oppenheimer nor Heisenburg know the disastrous consequences of pursuing the creation of the Atomic Bomb? And yet they did and look what this has resulted in? The Atomic Bomb has resulted in an unprecedented Arms Race right through the Cold War era and to the present 'US vs Islamic Middle East vs China' era, thereby creating more global tensions than ever before. And not just in the field of Particle Physics, but take the Genetics (Genetic Modification of Nature), Robotics, Eugenics; everywhere there is the scenario of Scientists blindly or immorally pursuing Knowledge without thinking about the consequences of furthur empowering the Military-Industrial Complexes of the world or thinking about the future generations. So where has Modern S&T led to? Technology may have helped in providing Healthcare, Transportation of Goods and Services, but has it not equally if not more, resulted in exploitation, genocide, catastrophes and ruined nations' economies by aiding Multi-national Capitalist Co-operations to infringe on other nations' sovereignity and steal their resources. Can it not be said that Technology has further camouflaged the selfish and exploitative acts of the powerful, corrupt and the greedy people of Planet Earth than ever before, which has resulted in Environmental Destruction and the deprivation and marginalization of the poor and helpless, than ever before? Has any of the Exploitative powers answered for their actions during the Colonial era or the modern Economic Imperialism era? It is one thing for Mr. Murthy to question people for not pursuing Science pionately; but he should not forget that more important than that is to bridge the rich-poor divide, motivate and empower the poor and helpless, not just in India but across the globe (even within these so-called 'Developed Nations' where 1% of the total potion holds 90% of the country's wealth, and where there is more social unrest than every before, where there is a lack of familial values and systems thereby resulting in people living discontented lives and suffering from mental depressions and other ills and addictions) and show the world that Justice is applicable not just to the marginalized or the common person, but to the high and mighty as well. Until that happens, technology is yet another tool in the hands of the rich and the powerful. We do not need more 'Scientists' (in the western context of the word) in the world; we need more Courageous, Selfless and Compionate people willing to take on the responsibility of empowering the marginalized of the world, and willing to take on the Powerful, Corrupt and Greedy people of the world.
                          Reply
                          1. G
                            GV Vishwas
                            Jul 16, 2015 at 11:10 am
                            What is the contribution of Narayan Murthy? Look inwards and you will get an answer.
                            Reply
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