Recalling the incident, Murthy said
MUMBAI: A bitter encounter on a train in 1974 in Nis, a border town between what is now Serbia and Bulgaria, turned NR Narayana Murthy into a “compassionate capitalist”, leading him to make Infosys, the country’s IT bellwether.
Recalling the incident, Murthy said he was engaged in a conversation with a girl, who could only understand French, but it landed him in trouble.
“We had been talking about life in Bulgaria. I think the boy, who had been accompanying the woman, got upset with us for some reason. So, he went and brought the authorities,” Murthy said on Sunday while addressing the audience at a tech festival arranged by IIT, Bombay, through a video link.
The Bulgarian guards took Murthy’s passport, bag and dragged him on the platform. He was kept in an 8X8 space, with primitive toilet facilities, for a few days.
“I thought they would open the door in the morning and get me some breakfast because I was the state guest, but nothing happened. I lost all hope of eating anything,” he said.
The following morning, police took Murthy into the platform and pushed him into the guard’s compartment of a departing freight train. At this time, Murthy hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for five days in a row.
The guards said,”Look, you are from a friendly country called India, so we’re letting you go but we’ll give you your passport once you reach Istanbul.” If a country treats friends like this, Murthy thought to himself, he wouldn’t want to be part of a communist country ever.
“That cued me from being a confused leftist to a determined compassionate capitalist,” he said. That episode pushed Murthy towards taking the plunge into entrepreneurship.
He said his first attempt at entrepreneurship was a company called Softronics focused on providing IT services to the national market, in Pune, which he shut as he could not see any future prospects.