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Women Have Unlimited Potential: Sudha Murty

Women Are the Smart Solution To Tackle Chronic Diseases: Dr Nalini Saligram


Sudha Murty

Atlanta, September 2012: The women’s business seminar at AKKA was a big draw for both women and men. Infosys Foundation chairperson, Sudha Murty spoke on the topic, 'Modern Woman – Reaching your full potential'. Dr Nalini Saligram of Arogya World was the second speaker at the forum.

“Women have undefined, unlimited potential. (It is up to them to) harness it and get ahead,” said Sudha Murty, in a 20 minute address that was laced with humor and spoken from the heart. The audience hung on to her every word and broke into applause, often. “Women often put chains on themselves; it is in their imagination,” she said, adding, “They’ve got to have the mindset to achieve.”

“Behind every successful man is a dumb woman,” she said, in a self deprecating reference to her own personal story (Sudha Murty is the wife of Infosys founder N. R. Narayana Murthy.) “But behind every successful woman is an understanding man.”

“The divorce rate is higher these days because women today are exercising their freedom. Men need to be understanding and allow their women to blossom.”

Murty said she believes women are actually better than men. They undergo several physical and emotional changes in life, and play several roles- as daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, mother, grandmother etc. This has given women the ability to adapt. “Women can be good managers,” she said, adding with a twinkle in her eye, “Man thinks he is the head of the family. Give him that false hope. His ego is fragile.”

In a changing world, each generation of women face a set of different challenges, she said, adding that in her personal opinion, it helps to compartmentalize your personal and professional life. “I did not play the female card or ask for concessions at work,” she said, and exhorted women to “Be professional.”

She added that she was lucky to have good family support.

Murty said she did not believe in having role models. “Parents are the best role models for children.They lead by example.” She illustrated her point with an example of how she convinced her children they did not need more than they have use for, by taking them on a tour of the slums and showing them the life of children there. “If you need 10 dresses, don’t have more. Do not amass,” she told them.

When her daughter asked her why she did not ever wear make-up, she told her what she believed- that true beauty lies in a compassionate heart.

Still on parenting, she said, “Don’t make decisions on behalf of your children. Be there to guide them. Our dreams are limited to ourselves. Be magnanimous when it comes to your kids.”

In conclusion, Murty said in her inimitable style: “Life is like a thali. Each person’s katori is of a different size. Make your thali nutritious and delicious.”

Later, in response to a question on philanthropy, she said, “You do not need money to become a philanthropist. You need love for your fellow human being,” adding, “Any giving which is not a business deal, not a ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’ deal, and for which you expect nothing in return, is philanthropy.”

The second speaker, Nalini Saligram is a global health advocate and founder & CEO of Arogya World. Arogya World is a U.S. based non-profit organization working to reduce the global impact of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), one community at a time.
Dr Saligram provided an overview of NCDs and its risk factors. “Last year, the UN Global Summit on NCDs declared non-communicable diseases as the biggest health and developmental challenge of the century. Two out of three deaths in the world and 80% of the deaths in the developing world are due to NCDs,” she said. “The cost of inaction is $30 trillion in 20 years, while the cost of action (through education on lifestyle changes) is much less at $11 billion.”

“Women are the smart solution to tackle NDCs,” she said. “The icon of the thali is certainly empowering.”

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