Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book Review: A Better India, A Better World

This write up was pending since a very long time. Today, luckily I pulled out some time to write.

I read the book ‘A Better India, A Better world’; written by a great person whom I admire a lot - Mr. N R Narayana Murthy, Founder of Infosys – a giant Information Technology Company. I admire him for many reasons; and I would like to share four specific reasons. First, he is a successful Entrepreneur. Second, as a person he is humble to the core and he is an extraordinary human being with very good values. Third, He contributed his best to address the most critical problem of our nation – Unemployment and Poverty by creating thousands of jobs. And, fourth reason is that he has set a greater vision for the development of our nation and he is leading by example.

I only knew the story on how Infosys was created and eventually succeeded in achieving its vision. But after reading this book, I now know the reason for its success as well. It is the inspirational leadership, greater vision and the well grounded value system. I must say NRN did the right thing by listening to the suggestion of his son. Yes, it was his son Roshan, who persuaded him to collate all his speeches into a book. And the outcome of it is ‘A Better India, A Better World’.

This book is a collection of thirty eight speeches out of his hundreds of speeches delivered across the globe during the last few years. He has basically tried to cover the issues seminal to the future of India and the world. He has divided his speeches into several categories, namely, Addressing to Students, Value System, National Issues, Education, Leadership, Corporate and Public Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy, Entrepreneurship, Globalization and his own experience at Infosys.

NRN has tried to address all the critical issues in each category and has given very good suggestions and recommendations for the challenges that are being encountered. The amount of research and the efforts he has put in to come up with these speeches are commendable. Every statement is justified and well explained with substantial statistics. The only thing redundant that one may observe while reading this book is the background of Infosys. But that has given him a strong foundation to demonstrate and experiment his ideas and convert it into words while delivering the lectures.

In his excellent speeches of addressing to students, he has given a very challenging and futuristic view on ones development and the youth power that is required. He has addressed the issues such as ‘Succeeding in the contemporary world’, ‘Need for excellence’, ‘Era of Globalization’, ‘Competition’ and also on ‘The Role of Religion in Education’. I just loved reading all of them and while reading, I felt like I am sitting in the auditorium listening to his speech.

Similarly on his lectures with respect to Education, I enjoyed reading the lecture on – ‘What would I do if I were the principal of a Secondary School?’ He has given his best to think and come up with the strong recommendations on the challenges a school principal faces with respect to the system. In the same category, there are two more interesting speeches on ‘Framework for Reforms on Higher Education in India’ and ‘The Unfinished Agenda’. The way he has written his speeches, the examples that he relates while explaining an issue, the depth he addresses the problem is what attracted me and I completely second all his thoughts with respect to the same.
In his speeches with respect to National issues, he has given his best argumentative views on the current problems we are facing as a nation. What will it take for India to bridge the great divide? The divide of ‘Hunger, illiteracy, disease and undernourishment in one hand’ and ‘with one of the highest GDP growth rates in the world and an array of recent achievements in technology, industry and entrepreneurship’ in the other. Similarly, he has also discussed and argued in depth on the issues of Globalization and Economic Reforms. I learnt many new ways of analyzing our 1991 Economic Reforms and could study the depth of the impact out of it. All the lectures has good amount of statistics to understand the issues carefully.

Some of the best speeches that I liked were from the categories of Entrepreneurship and Values. Being a successful entrepreneur, I guess it was easy for him to write his own experiences on the challenges faced and the strategies he adopted to tackle them. But for budding entrepreneurs or who wants to become entrepreneurs, like me, those are the wisdom pearls and a great learning. His speeches on values were more based on his two decades of experience at Infosys. Absolutely inspiring words on value system and I must also say that It is very difficult for any corporate to achieve so much having followed such wonderful value system. He has also addressed few of the critical issues like Corruption, Secularism, Western Influence, Discipline and empowerment. I am only lucky having read these speeches.

I was shocked and at the same time thrilled to learn some of his personal experiences which have taught him good lessons for life. I enjoyed reading the ‘Journey of creation of Infosys’ and the value system that they follow in Infosys. I got to know more about Infosys only after reading this book. He has also given the experiences on how, as a team, they tried to overcome all the breakdowns in their early stages. His speeches on Philanthropy talks more about the social responsibilities in the current context and his speech on ‘Compassionate Capitalism’ is a very good read.

NRN has a very good way of explaining his views. In all his speeches, you will come across many Sanskrit sayings, quotes from leaders and proverbs; through them he has beautifully communicated his views. You will also come across vision of ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ – Father of Our Nation, in many of his speeches and his meaningful quotations are placed very well in his writing. I am sure one will enjoy reading them and try relating them to what NRN is trying to communicate.

While I am writing this post, I also feel like writing on few of the issues that he has argued and addressed in the book. So far I have not made any critical analysis of the book, because, to me, it is a very positive book. Each and every speech has given me good insights and made me think about it to come up with the right views and actions. It is more like, if you have any doubts or questions on any of the categories mentioned above, this book is the right answer. You read it and you will get most of your queries and doubts on the critical issues resolved. Atleast I got answers to most of my questions! And one day I wish to see NRN and visionaries like him to lead our nation.

I strongly recommend reading this book. It is available at every book stall and is priced at 499 Rs published by Penguin Books India. One can also try shopping this book online. gives good discounts if you buy online.

Happy reading! And if you have already read the book, please do share your experience.



Narasim said...

Your review captures the essence of the book of collected addresses very well.

I have not read the book. Maybe, in the near future, I will get a chance to read it.

Several years ago I read about the origins of Infosys and how he single handedly kept the faith and kept moving forward. Perseverence was rewarded with the good fortune of Y2K. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

It was Louis Pasteur who said "fortune favours the prepared mind". NRN story is a textbook example of that aphorism.

Narayana Murthy is an inspiration to us all.

Sudhi said...

I can name this blog as " A Best Review" of a book.

I have already started reading this book and almost completed. It is really inspiring as well as informative.

I agree with your words, "I felt like I am sitting in the auditorium listening to his speech". I also felt the same.

Now I came to know why Infosys has become a Most Respected Company eventhough there are many big IT companies existing in India. I liked NRN's idea of creating wealth in most respectful and ethical manner and also sharing of wealth. He has also given a good comparative study of Socialism and Capitalism.

I strongly recommend this book to every citizen of India.

drmanjunathbd said...

Nice review Srikanth...

I'm sure the book will be an inspiration for posterity.

As most of my friends know I'm not that kind of a person who is 'entrepreneurial'.I respect people for things which are far more basic than their 'learned(!)' qualities.

Simply put, I respect NRN as he respects his wife, whose intelligence he appreciates and experiences.I have utmost respect for him for the simple wedding he had arranged for his daughter.I respect him for he cares for his state and nation.I think he is a good human caring for the development of his less fortunate co-citizens.(Most of these things are expansions of your second and third admiration points)

NRN deserves to be praised for many reasons and most of them you have already mentioned.It is good to see an Indian with all these qualities.

I have written about all these things as I felt these were important when somebody is reading his books.I have not read the book, hopefully I will read it someday.

Again, nice read.

Doc Manjunath

Vaishnavi Vittal said...

I'm not much of a non-fiction reader. I've read only a couple. But your post has triggered the fact that I should read this book. So I'll try to get my hands on one in the near future. Great writing! What I like the most is that you chose not to review/critique it since you took all the positive. That's the spirit!

SuZ said...

When I was at Infosys, the respect he commanded was simply great. We all were in awe of NRN. I realized that even more when I shifted out from Infy and realized that in most of other companies the CEOs and Chairmans are laughed at...

Padma said...

Thank you for sharing your views. I have the book but the size of the book discouraged me from reading. Now your excellent review is inspiring me to pick up the book. Thank again.

Vivek Raja said...

- Some Excerpts from this book