It is only natural for the rich to take pride in the designer wears they don and flaunt. But not Sudha Murthy! One of India’s richest women, the chairman of the Infosys Foundation decided to give up on shopping instead. The last saree she bought was 21 years ago, before she went to Kashi. What led to this change? “I was in Kashi to take the holy dip, and when you go to Kashi you have to give up something that you enjoy the most. I gave up shopping, particularly sarees, from thereon. I now only buy the essential items,” Murthy told PTI. “I have to say I feel very happy and free,” she added. But, one thing that Murthy and her industrialist husband Narayan Murthy continue to splurge on is — books.
The couple loves reading, and their massive collection of over 20,000 books neatly arranged in two libraries, stands testimony to it. But, the philanthropist confesses to detesting the idea of lending her books to anyone, even her husband who she thinks can easily afford to buy them. “I tell my husband, ‘how could writers survive if everybody started borrowing their books?’ We, the authors, want people to buy books. “That is the only way we can earn — from our royality,” she quipped. Murthy, who recently came out with a new book, “Three Thousand Stitches”, has established over 60,000 libraries in Karnataka alone through the Infosys Foundation.
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Not many know that when the idea of Infosys germinated in 1981, it was Sudha who initially funded the company with her savings of Rs 10,000. She gave her husband three years to fulfill his dream. “At the time, I told him to bring bread on the table in those three years. And if he could buy a two-wheeler and a two-bed room house, that would be the ultimate for me,” she said. And rest is history. According to Forbes, Narayana Murthy’s net worth at present amounts to USD 1.92 billion. However, for Sudha, the wealth and fame came at the cost of a few dear friendships. “I lost many friendships because of my wealth. When my friends met me, they had an agenda in mind. Just because I had money, they expected one thing or the other from me, which they didn’t before.
“So yes I have lost some good friends, and this is what hurts me the most,” she added. On the flip side, she also admits that the same money lets her do all the social work…be it building 2,300 houses in flood affected areas or helping earthquake victims in Gujarat. “We come from a background that has a solid value system. That’s the reason earning lot of money never got to our heads. But, yes it definitely provided us with the opportunity to help people in different ways,” she said.