Narayan Murthy Clears IIT-JEE

IIT Accepts Narayan Murthy

I will be reexamining this assertion of not being able to attend IIT because of limited finances.

Is IIT education affordable?

I attended IIT Bombay from 1973 to 1978. To put expense figure in perspective, I will mention that the fresh IIT graduates in 1978 got about 700 to 1600 rupees a month in private sector jobs. After two years of job gross salary of about 1500 was common. High school teachers, made much lower. My mother, who was a teacher in a Kendriya Vidyalaya, I believe, made about 500 rupees a month in 1973.

IIT Expenses

If a decision is made not to attend a boarding school like IIT and instead go to a regional engineering college just on cost factors, it would be instructive to see where the cost could be higher in case of IIT.

IIT Tuition was 25 rupees a semester that was cheaper than 10 rupees a month I paid for my education at Kendriya Vidyalaya. That could not be a factor. Hostel rent was 100 rupees a year. First of all, this rent was below ridiculously low. Moreover, while staying at home might have been free, cost of commuting might have made this number comparable. In my view, it couldn't be a factor.

Food expense was a problem. Hostel mess service had about 100 to 200 percent overhead. [During lunch and dinner time many workers used to appear mysteriously to partake in the meals then not to be seen till the next meal time. ;}] During the first year of my stay, I used to pay about 90 rupees a month for mess food. I think that similar food at home would have costed about 30 to 40 rupees a month. A difference of 50 to 60 rupees a month could make a big difference to the son of a school teacher. However, I recall a few IITians opting out of mess service. Some good reason for that had to be there, which Murthy obviously did have.

That was at IIT Bombay. Most likely, Narayana Murthy would have gone to IIT Madras. I don't know about the cost of food there. But, I lived in Madras from 1980 to 1981 working for Larsen and Toubro. I was simply amazed at the low cost of food there. Seems like government had highly subsidized certain basic food. For example, in a decent restaurant near my office, I used to eat a plate of 2 idlis, with sambar and chutney, [still makes my mouth water], for 10 paisas. Masala dosa was relatively expensive - about 40 paisas. I am guessing that at IIT Madras, the difference between cost of eating at a hostel (or even in restaurants) and eating at home would been smaller than was the case for IIT Bombay.


Based on my limited knowledge, I have to say that Narayana Murthy's claim of not being able to attend IIT because of stated reason of lack of finances does not seem likely. Small difference in cost factors could have been easily met by need-based scholarships given out to most meeting the financial criteria - which he would have met. Small loans were available easily. More likely the reason of Mr. Murthy not attending IIT was the lack of good JEE rank that didn't allow Narayan Murthy to get in the electrical department, his choice, or similarly competitive departments.

A few internal links

Charity - Narayan Murthy Style

Narayana Murthy starts Infosys on 10,000 rupees!

Sudha Murthy and Infosys Foundation

CBS 60 minutes on IIT


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"A topper all through his academic career, he easily secured a seat at the prestigious IIT. But as fate would have it, lack of financial resources nipped his dream." - some magazine and common collective knowledge of all living Indians.

(Last Updated: June 30, 2021.)