Infosys founder Narayana Murthy has doubled down on his controversial advice to young people in India to work 70 hours a week, saying the country’s educated population owes it to the less fortunate to work “extremely hard”.
In an interview to CNBC-TV18, the 77-year-old defended his stance saying “farmers and factory workers work very hard” and hard work is common in India as most people take on physically demanding professions. “Therefore, those of us who received education at a huge discount, thanks to the subsidy from the government for all these education, owe it to the less fortunate citizens of India to work extremely hard,” he said.
Mr Murthy said although he received widespread backlash on social media over his advice, a lot of “good people” and “NRIs” agreed with his statement.
“I rationalized it this way. If anybody that has much better than me in their own field, not necessarily in my field, I would respect, I would call them, and I would say, where do you think I was wrong in saying this? But I didn’t find. A lot of my western friends, a lot of NRIs, a lot of good people in India called me, and without exception, they were all very happy,” he told CNBC-TV18.
Philanthropist and author Sudha Murty, being interview alongside her husband, said a 70-hour work week was common for her family and revealed that he regularly used worked as many as 90 hours in a week.
Claiming he has never given advice “without doing it myself first”, Mr Murthy shared details of his rigorous work routine at Infosys, where he worked for 85-90 hours every week.
“I used to go (to work) six and a half days. Even in the electronics area, I used to work six and a half days. And every day I would leave home at 6 a.m. in the morning. I would be in the office at 6.20. And I would leave by about 8.15, 8.30 pm,” he said.
In October last year, the Infosys founder courted controversy when he appealed to youngster in India to work 70 hours a week. The comment was criticized by working professionals as well as other CEOs for promoting a lack of work-life balance. “This is exactly what the Germans and Japanese did after the Second World War… they made sure that every German worked extra hours for a certain number of years,” Mr Narayana Murthy said on a podcast with former Infosys CEO Mohandas Pai.