Sudha Murty

Philanthropy – An Option or a Necessity: The 4th Sarah Kailath Memorial Lecture by Sudha Murty

A summary of the lecture
by Sridevi Prasad, ISAS Program & Publications Assistant

On October 29, Infosys Foundation Chairperson and prominent philanthropist, Sudha Murty, delivered the fourth Sarah Kailath Memorial lecture at Wheeler Hall. The lecture series was established in the memory of Sarah Kailath (February 5 1941 - October 15, 2008), a long-time supporter of the Institute for South Asia Studies. Focused on the theme of “Women and Leadership”, this lecture series invites distinguished scholars and activists to address critical social issues in this area. Exemplifying this theme, Sudha Murty was one of the first women to study at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Upon her admission into the University, the dean complained that there were no toilets for women at the school and that there was no use building these facilities since she would be the only woman to study engineering there. Contrary to what the dean predicted, Mrs. Murty was happy to report the enormous amount of women studying engineering at her alma mater. Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd at UC Berkeley, Sudha Murty delivered a lecture on a topic dear to her heart: philanthropy. Connecting her work as a teacher to her present-day occupation at Infosys Foundation, she continuously reminded the audience that philanthropy is a must. Using examples from encounters with her former students and discussing her work in the red light districts of Karnataka, Sudha Murty explained the fulfillment she herself received from her works of dāna or charitable giving. Harkening back to her engineering degree and using bridges as a metaphor for human relationships, Sudha Murty spoke on the importance of creating real connections with the community that one is serving. Imploring the audience to give, Sudha Murty ended her lecture by showing that accumulating wealth means nothing unless one uses the wealth to give back to the community.