Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy, speaking at the 26th edition of Bengaluru Tech Summit 2023, emphasized the importance of reciprocity in availing government services. He expressed his disapproval of freebies and urged individuals to contribute back to society after benefiting from government services at subsidized rates. The event, held in the Karnataka capital, provided a platform for Murthy to share his insights on the role of “compassionate capitalism” in India’s path to prosperity.
Murthy highlighted the need for a symbiotic relationship between citizens and the government when it comes to subsidized services. He articulated his perspective, stating, “When you provide those services, when you provide those subsidies, there must be something in return that they’re willing to do. For example, if you say — I will give you free electricity, then it would have been a very nice thing for the government to have said, but we want to see the percentage attendance in primary schools and middle schools go up by 20 per cent, then only we will give you that.”
While acknowledging the importance of free services, Murthy underscored the necessity for recipients to shoulder a greater responsibility in return. Drawing from his own humble background, he empathized with those who have benefited from subsidies and advocated for a commitment to improving the prospects of future generations. He stated, “I am not against free services being provided. I fully understand, as I also came from a poor background once upon a time. But I think we should expect something in return from those people who received those free subsidies to take a slightly bigger responsibility towards making their own future generation, their own children and grandchildren, better in terms of going to school, you know, performing better. That’s what I mean.”
In the pursuit of creating efficient, corruption-free, and effective public goods in the country, Murthy acknowledged that taxation would inevitably need to be higher than what is observed in developed nations. Expressing his willingness to accept a higher level of taxation for the greater good, he stated, “In order to create efficient, corruption-free and effective public goods in our country, the taxation will have to be obviously higher than what you see in developed countries. So, I personally would not at all grudge if I have to pay a higher level of taxation.
Murthy also drew attention to the economic progress of China, emphasizing the need for Indian political leaders to study and learn from China’s successes. Despite facing similar challenges, China has achieved a GDP five or six times that of India. Murthy urged political leaders to carefully analyze China’s strategies and implement measures that would enable India to advance at a comparable pace. He expressed his vision for India to become a nation that effectively addresses poverty and uplifts its people. “So all that I would humbly request our political leaders is to study China very very carefully, and then see what are the good things that we can learn from China and implement here, so that India too advances at the same pace as China and becomes a nation that has reduced the poverty of its people,” he said.
Narayana Murthy’s address at the Bengaluru Tech Summit 2023 underscored the importance of reciprocity in the utilization of government services, advocated for a sense of responsibility among beneficiaries of subsidies, and encouraged political leaders to draw insights from China’s economic development to propel India towards greater prosperity.