Narayana Murthy as a Cornell Trustee

According to a message from the Dean of the Faculty of Computing and Information Science of Cornell university ( Cornell gets anonymous gift from India) Cornell Trustees appointed, effective July 1, 2003, Professor Keshav Pingali, an IIT Kanpur alumnus, to an endowed 'India Chair,' provided by an anonymous gift to support Computer Science and to strengthen Cornell ties to India. Another Cornell news article stated that :He [Keshav Pingali] is the first person to hold the chair, which has been endowed by an anonymous benefactor of Cornell in India. The donor requested that the chair be given to a full professor in early or midcareer and that the holder travel periodically to India to lecture on computer science.

The minimum endowment level for a full professor is 2 million US dollars (about 10 crore rupees) (See Microsoft Excel file This amount will likely be higher for endowment in technical and professional areas like computer science, engineering and business.

Is Narayana Murthy (Trustee, Cornell) this Anonymous Donor

Who could this anonymous benefactor of Cornell in India' be? There aren't many families in India that could afford to gift such a large amount. Moreover, this person is likely either an alumni of Cornell or a parent of a child who studied or is studying at Cornell. Furthermore, obviously, this anonymous benefactor is interested in computer science programs at academic institutions. One person that comes to mind is Ratan Tata, head of Tata group. He studied at Cornell about four decades ago; is immensely wealthy and his group's TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) is India's biggest software exporter. Or could it be Mr. N.R. Narayana Murthy, co-founder and chief mentor of Infosys Technologies, Bangalore? His family is rich - worth about a billion dollars in Infosys shares. Moreover, Mr. Murthy's son Rohan Murthy has been studying computer science at Cornell since 2001. In past, Mr. Murthy has given some amounts, albeit with wide publicity, as seems to be the way he likes it, to IIT Kanpur's computer science department, where he did his master's showing that he likes to make such gifts.


This faculty appointment was effective July 1, 2003. And so was Narayana Murthy's election as at-large trustee to four-year term. Coincidenally, the period from July 1, 2003 to September 30, 2003 was the only quarter in 2003 (and 2004) when Mr. Narayan Murthy sold stock from his vast holding of several hundred million dollars worth of Infosys stocks. The market value of the stocks he sold is estimated to be about two million dollars. Details follow.

Narayana Murthy as a Trustee


Cornell's Trustee Board, vested with 'supreme control' over the university, elected N.R. Narayana Murthy to join then beginning July 1, 2003. During 2005, out of 64 voting trustees, only 9 are not Cornell alumni. Out of those 9 - 3 are Ex Officio Trustees (including George Pataki, governor of New York State), two were student-elect and are current students at Cornell, two were elected by the faculty and are residents of Ithaca, NY where Cornell University is located, one is a senior leader of the labor union AFL-CIO at New York (Cornell's charter requires 2 trustees from labor and I imagine that finding a Cornell graduate in labor is quite difficult), and then there is Mr. Narayana Murthy, chief mentor of Infosys, Bangalore - the only non-resident of New York State and without any apparent strong bond with the university except that his son was studying there. In my view, Mr. Murthy's situation is quite unusual.

Sale of Infosys Stock

I checked Mr. Narayana Murthy's share holding in Infosys Technologies, at the end of each quarter of 2003 (and 2004) to get clues about his financial situation. Out of 8 quarters in this period, only during the July 1, 2003 to September 30, 2003 quarter, Mr. Murthy sold some stocks and my estimate of proceeds from that sales is about 2 to 3 million dollars (about 11 crore rupees). I checked Mrs. Sudha Murthy's stock holdings too, and in her case too, with the exception of a small number of shares sold in the the last quarter of 2003, all the rest were sold in the same time period as that for Mr. Murthy. I estimate her proceeds to be about 8 to 9 million dollars (34 crore rupees). (See my complete analysis elsewhere on Narayana Murthy's Charity) Where did all this money go?

Cornell University?

Frankly, I think only 3 to 4 million of about 10 to 12 million dollar raised by their stock sales went to Cornell. However, it does not mean that this is the end of Murthy's giving to Cornell. In the message from the Dean of the Faculty of Computing and Information Science of Cornell university (see the top link) it is stated that 'Still later in March, Cornell trustee Narayana Murthy discussed the idea of a new building for CS with President Lehman, and subsequently President Lehman asked CIS for details on its idea for a new building and a possible 'information campus'.'

Moreover, Cornell President Jeffrey Lehman and his delegation made a courtsey call to Mr. Narayana Murthy at Infosys in Bangalore in July 2004 during their trip to India. Infosys was the only business organization this delegation visited in India. In Mumbai, Jeffrey Lehman remarked, 'Even on a first visit, I cannot help but admire the juxtaposition of a rich history and culture with a technology-driven, high-growth economy. We want to work with our friends in India.' ( Cornell president visits Narayana Murthy (Infosys), IIT Mumbai and IISc Bangalore ) I think that Cornell is for a big kill here and I won't be surprised if in 2005/2006, Infosys and Cornell announce some joint program named Cornell Infosys Institute of Global Technological Research' (inclusion of the word global is almost certain) with a new building built at Cornell at a cost of around 20 million dollars (100 crore rupees) (all with Infosys' expenses). Top dogs at IIT Kanpur and IIT Bombay will be handed a few bones so that they don't complain much. I think Pingli will be used to lure IIT Kanpur toppers to Cornell and stories titled 'Cornell Ruled by IIT Mafia' will be planted in India media to make every Indian so proud again.

IIT Kanpur too

Seems to me that most of the remaining funds went to IIT Kanpur (not sure about the timing), (rumored) about 5 million dollars (25 crore rupees) for the construction of a new building, and (confirmed) about 2 million dollars for IIT Kanpur's Research I Foundation. 'One of our alumni, Mr. N R Narayana Murthy, Chairman, Infosys, has created the Research I Foundation for the department with an endowment of Rs. 10 crores (2 million dollars).' Its board consisted of, N.R. Narayana Murthy; Professor Sanjay G Dhande, Director, IIT Kanpur; Head, Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Kanpur; Professor V Rajaraman, Honorary Professor, SERC, IISc ; Professor Rajeev Motwani, Stanford University; Professor Keshav Pingali, Cornell University.

My note: Note the inclusion of professor Keshav Pingali, Cornell University on this board. It is the same Professor Pingali who was elected to the 'anonymous' benefactor endowed India Chair at Cornell.

And the Poor?

For the poor of the world: Sorry, they have no money left for you. However, as you know well by now, Narayan Murthy (and of course, divine Sudha Murthy) think of you all the time. Sudha Murthy, especially has been influenced by Tata, Buddha, Gandhi (Mahatama not Sonia), Bill Gates and others. My guess is that after Mr. Murthy's bank check cleared, he was allowed to speak at Cornell and in his distinguished lecture Thursday, Oct. 16, at Cornell to overflow audience, in one of three Cornell President Jeffrey Lehman's Inauguration Day lectures, as reported by Susan Lang in her challenges Cornell to counter corporate greed and address world problems during Inauguration of Jeffery Sean Lehman he stated:

'The gap between rich and poor countries has doubled in the past 40 years. ... There are 1.2 billion people in this world who live in extreme poverty, on income of less than $1 per day. About one billion people lack access to safe drinking water. ... Can we be catalysts in wiping the tears off the eyes of the poorest of the poor? Can the Cornell chime bring solace not just to the chosen few on this campus but to a forlorn child in the remote lands of Africa? ... How can we address the myriad problems that cripple the development of mankind as a whole?'

Nagawara Ramarao Narayana Murthy like his divine wife Sudha Murthy does strongly believe in giving. Giving speeches, that is.

We are watching the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Mr. Narayana Murthy and Cornell. I will be closely monitoring the developments and will keep you posted.

A few internal links

Narayana Murthy and Charity

Sudha Murthy and Infosys Foundation

Narayana Murthy starts Infosys on 10,000 rupees!

Narayan Murthy was too poor to attend IIT after clearing IIT-JEE with fairly high rank

People >
Narayana Murthy >

'He [Keshav Pingali] is the first person to hold the chair, which has been endowed by an anonymous benefactor of Cornell in India.' - Cornell newsletter

(Last Updated: June 30, 2021)