Only Reasonable Income Jobs Can Help Curb Inequality In India: Narayana Murthy

Shifting people from agriculture to low-tech manufacturing jobs and services can boost India’s per capita income, Murthy says.

NR Narayana Murthy, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Infosys. (Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg)
NR Narayana Murthy, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Infosys. (Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg)

India needs to focus on creating jobs that give a reasonable income to tackle the issue of inequality, Infosys’ co-founder NR Narayana Murthy said on Sunday.

He also emphasised on shifting more people from agriculture, where the per capita GDP income is low, to low-tech manufacturing and services, where the income levels are comparatively better.

"The only way you can reduce inequality in a country like India is through creation of jobs, and creation of jobs with reasonable income," Murthy, who is also the chairman emeritus of Infosys, said while addressing a techfest organised by Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, via video conferencing.

In India, nearly 58 percent—or about 650 million people—depend on agriculture, which contributes only 14 percent to the gross domestic product, he said.

"In other words, if the per capita income of an Indian is $2,000, those working in agriculture is hardly $500 per year because these 58 percent people contribute only 14 percent of the GDP,” Murthy said.

These $500 per year translates into around $1.5 per day, or Rs 100 per day, in which these people have to eat, take care of health, educate their children and pay rent, among others, he said.

"Therefore, poverty in India is absolutely huge. The only way you can improve is by moving people from agriculture to low-tech services and manufacturing, where hopefully we should be able to get them somewhere around $1,500 to $2,000 per year.

"Unfortunately, India has not been successful in doing that because our infrastructure is very poor, and the state governments do not understand the problems, and they have not made the life easier for entrepreneurs to get into low-tech manufacturing and services," he added.

Murthy also said there is a need to improve agricultural productivity by using more and more technology.

He also advised the country's IT companies to focus on innovations to improve quality, provide better value to customers and encourage their employees to embrace new ideas, which will start giving opportunities in the next 10-15 years.