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Corporate leaders should exercise self-restraint in perks, profligacy and lifestyle to make capitalism attractive: Narayana Murthy

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Ahmedabad, Apr 2 (PTI) Corporate leaders should exercise "self-restraint" in their perks, profligacy, and lifestyle, particularly in India where a majority of people are poor, to make capitalism attractive, Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy said here on Sunday.

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Speaking as the chief guest at the 58th annual convocation of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), Murthy said "good governance" is enhanced by adhering to "honesty, fairness, transparency and accountability in every transaction".

Listing his "ideals," he emphasised the virtue of "fairness" as being the most important attribute for a decision.

"Across the world and particularly in a country like India where a majority of people are poor, the best way to make capitalism attractive is that corporate leaders exercise self-restraint in their perks, profligacy, compensation, and their lifestyle," Murthy said.

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He said the "mindset" of a company should be determined by the culture of meritocracy and values, as "culture is a strong foundation on which the super-structure of aspirations, dreams, and hopes rests".

Murthy said a part of success is determined by performance and half part by luck.

"I want every one of you to be humble...You must do everything possible for success before you invoke God," he said.

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Talking about building Infosys, Murthy said he wanted it to be a place where a person irrespective of his race, religion, caste, region, nationality and economic strata could succeed based on competence and values.

"Transparency in everything you do is counterintuitively a competitive advantage. I want you to remember this very importantly (sic)," he said.

Murthy said "competence, commitment and character" are essential for a company to earn the respect of stakeholders and achieve enduring success.

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Talking about the attributes of a leader, he said, "the most powerful instrument of a leader is leading by example in demonstrating courage, sacrifice, hope, confidence, innovation, hard work, truth, fairness, transparency, accountability, austerity, discipline, a good value system, and most importantly, open-mindedness." A confident leader hires people smarter than himself or herself, and such a leader gets the best out of his or her people by creating an environment of openness to "new ideas, values, meritocracy, fairness, transparency, speed, justice, imagination, discussion, excellence in execution and questioning, he added.

"The best management guru is the market competition," Murthy said.

"The way one behaves when he or she is on top and has power and wealth is his/her true character. In such moments, your grace, your courtesy and humility showed to others will reveal a real you," he added.

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According to Murthy, there is no progress without questioning.

"Putting the interest of the company ahead of one's interest in the short and medium term results in the betterment of one's personal interest in the long term," he said.

Murthy said every customer looks for the best value for money in every purchase, and therefore, a company that enhances differentiated values to customers using continuous innovation, will obtain premium pricing.

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Murthy said it was drilled into his mind when he was young that his fate would be limited by the circumstances that he was born in, and India he experienced was a lower middle class with small hopes and even smaller dreams.

He said he had simply accepted that there would be a glass ceiling to most of the corporate ladders in corporate India when corruption and connections in government used to be common for success in most businesses.

"This regressive mindset changed when I went to work in a French real-time software company in Paris where I learnt three important ideas --the power of entrepreneurship in a free market in creating jobs and prosperity for the nation, the beauty of an enlightened corporate democracy, and the role of compassionate capitalism in building happy and prosperous country", Murthy added.

He said this journey irrevocably transformed him from a "confused Leftist" to a determined compassionate capitalist.

"After my return to India, I decided to conduct an experiment based on these three important ideas that I spoke about," he said.

A total of 597 students graduated from IIMA. PTI KA NSK NSK

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