By | Prabodh Sirur | Vice President – HR at Manipal Technologies Ltd.
Some Narayana Murthys are born and some are made by others. Today I am writing about those who made it big thanks to their wives.
Michelle Obama’s story
The story goes like this …
Once President Obama and the First Lady, Michelle Obama decided to go out for a casual dinner and landed in a small restaurant. Michelle told her husband that the owner of the restaurant was in love with her during her young days. Obama, after listening to her story, said, “So if you had married him, you would now be the owner of this lovely restaurant,” to which Michelle responded, “No. If I had married him, he would now be the President.”
When Barack met Michelle in 1988, he was a junior lawyer. In 1992, the year they got married, Barack started teaching constitutional law. In 1996, he was elected to the Illinois State Senate. In 2005, he was sworn as a U.S. senator. In 2008, he became the President of the United States.
This story of Barack Obama’s 20 years’ journey speaks volumes about the focus Michelle had in making her husband the most powerful person in the world.
Story of two sisters
Sudha and Jayashree, the two brilliant sisters, were gold medalists all through. Sudha studied Electrical Engineering and Jayashree did her masters in Physics from IIT. Both these sisters came from a middle-class family from a not-so-big city of Hubli, Karnataka.
Sudha married Narayana Murthy, a shy young man from a humble background who wanted to build an orphanage at some point in time in future. Jayashree married Gururaj Deshpande who also had a modest background.
Today both Narayana Murthy and Gururaj are billionaires. Narayana Murthy founded Infosys, an IT behemoth employing some 200,000 plus people. Gururaj is a venture capitalist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and one of the richest Indian Americans.
Is it a coincidence that both the sisters became billionaires?
Could these men have become big without these ladies in their lives?
I don’t think so.
I have not elaborated much about the above two stories. A lot of information about them is already available on the internet. Indira’s story is not known to many so giving a bigger space for her.
It was some time in 1985. I was a junior officer in a bank then and managed the safe deposit vault function. I saw an old couple approaching me to use their vault. When they reached close to me, I saw the man fold his hands (this gesture of Namaste is used when you are in front of an idol in a temple) to his wife and requesting her to lead the way. He then turned to me and said with reverence, “She is my goddess”.
I was a bit puzzled by the whole scene. Our peon, Sardesai, came forward to solve the puzzle for me.
Sardesai said, “Do you know who he is? He is Venkatesh Kamat, owner of a chain of restaurants and a billionaire. And she is his wife, Indira”, and continued to narrate a bizarre story, “He used to work in my father-in-law’s restaurant as a porya (a small boy who cleans the tables in the restaurant) in Kumta, a small town from Karnataka. His stars changed after he was married to Indira”.
Here is the whole story that I heard from Sardesai.
Indira came from a poor family living in a village. The only source of hope for the poor in India is to meet the astrologers. Indira’s father went to meet an astrologer to ask about his young daughter’s future. The astrologer studied Indira’s horoscope and told the poor father that she will marry a Kuber (Kuber is a god of wealth in Indian mythology).
The beaming father returned to his village and shared the great news with all. Everyone made fun of him. But the guy had faith in what the astrologer had told him and started visiting the rich people looking for a groom for his daughter. Naturally, his request was turned down by them. This continued for a while till he became a joke in his village. Finding no rich groom for his daughter, he ultimately got her married to Venkatesh, the porya from Kumta to the amusement of his neighbourhood.
Indira never forgot the incident nor the advice of her heartbroken father who told her, “Indira, my child; I am marrying you to a Kuber. Remember this.” Then on, she had a single objective in life – to see her husband reach to the top. She had no money, she was illiterate, but she had a purpose.
She pushed the young man to move to Mumbai, the big city of opportunities. She supported Venkatesh in his journey at every step. In parallel, she was getting ready to become a billionaire’s wife. She started going to school. She completed her education. She put her children to the best schools so that they could be ready to become billionaire’s children. People around her were in awe of her when she did her post graduation in the same year when her daughter got her post-grad.
Time passed and Venkatesh became one of the richest hoteliers in India with a chain of restaurants across the world. I understand he once appeared on the cover page of the Time magazine.
Indira did marry a Kuber, rather, she carved a Kuber out of a nobody.
I have not read memoirs of these amazing women to know the details of how they fired the spark in their men-folk; what I am pretty sure is that their every waking moment was focused towards making their spouses successful.
What I learnt from their lives is, you have a choice to become great or a choice to make someone great. Both are great pursuits.
Whenever I create an article, I want to write something about Impressionism. The Impressionist art movement is my source of inspiration. It reminds me to think about innovation and about challenging the status quo.
Impressionism (1860-1890) is a 19th-century art movement. It was started by painters to challenge the then existing style of painting. They re-defined painting as an impression of one’s mind rather than what is seen by the eye. They turned the artistic establishment upside down with their revolutionary new approach to painting.
Today I want to remember Georges Lemmen (1865-1916), a Belgian neo-impressionist painter. Lemmen’s paintings demonstrate his ability to capture the effects of light on the surroundings. He created charming scenes of tranquillity and harmony while emphasizing a sense of balance and clarity of outline.
Here is a painting by Lemmen titled Heyst No. 19: Clear Night, Moon. Painted in 1891, this is a great example of the Pointillist style, a style where forms are created using small dots of paints rather than brush strokes. I really liked the huge number of colours used to depict the impact of moonlight on the sky and on the water below.