Infosys founder Narayana Murthy recalls going hungry for 120 hours in Europe

"Most of you have not experienced hunger. I have," says Murthy

115-Narayana-Murthy N.R. Narayana Murthy | Bhanu Prakash Chandra

Infosys Founder N.R. Narayana Murthy has said he experienced hunger for 120 hours non-stop when he was hitchhiking in Europe 50 years ago.

Murthy, 77, was addressing a special event 'Achievements in Food Security: India's Strides Towards Sustainable Development Goals', hosted by the Permanent Mission of India to the UN on Tuesday at the UN headquarters in New York.

Commemorating the milestone four billionth meal served by Indian NGO—The Akshaya Patra Foundation—,the event showcased India's innovative strategies, policies and achievements in food security and nutrition and their alignment with SDGs, particularly the target of zero hunger.

"Most of you have not experienced hunger. I have," Murthy said while addressing an audience of UN diplomats, officials, academia, civil society organisations and members of the Indian diaspora during the event.

He said, "50 years ago, I experienced hunger for 120 hours non-stop when I was hitchhiking in Europe and at a place called Nish, a border town between Bulgaria and what was then Yugoslavia and today Serbia."

“Most Indians here and I have received good quality and highly subsidised education from the Indian government. Therefore, as civilised people, we must show gratitude to our nation and help the future generation of these helpless, poor children to get (a) good education," he said.

Adding that success is bringing a smile to the face of helpless people, Murthy said, "Akshaya Patra is hugely successful by that count. If our poor children lose hope and faith in our society, they will turn to violence and destroy all the good that India has achieved and is hoping to achieve.”

Murthy appealed to leaders of other countries at the UN to emulate the Akshaya Patra model and "bring joy, health, confidence, hope and success to poor children in their own countries."

Lauding the work done by the foundation, Murthy said, “Akshaya Patra raises our confidence that good things can indeed happen in India".

The Infosys founder emphasised that India has been making good economic progress due to the success of the government's economic policies, vision and the hard work of Indian entrepreneurs and citizens as well as the foreign direct investment from multinationals.

He noted that the government of India runs the world's largest food security programme, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), which benefits over 800 million people.

As part of it, the school feeding programme PM POSHAN (Poshan Shakti Nirman) scheme directly benefits over 118 million children.

"Akshaya Patra is a proud addition and a proud partner of this fantastic initiative of the Government of India," Murthy said.

“Poverty is not unique to India. It is there in every society. Akshaya Patra makes the future of India safe by bringing inclusivity to the country's growth and making the poor people enthusiastic partners in our quest towards prosperity," Murthy added.

He stressed that Akshaya Patra is a worthy example of a " successful public-private partnership and it very importantly rises above religion, region and caste.”

Murthy said he is "very impressed" that Akshaya Patra has used technology in a big way to ensure that food is clean and delivered hot and dust-free.

"Any rational discussion on such an initiative would make people say it is impossible. However, the Akshaya Patra leadership and the team have proved that a plausible impossibility is better than a convincing possibility," Murthy said.

India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi and chairman of The Akshaya Patra Foundation, Madhu Pandit Dasa, also addressed the event.

On the occasion, Deputy Commissioner for International Affairs New York City, Dilip Chauhan presented a citation to Dasa on behalf of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, honouring Akshaya Patra for its work.

"With their relentless efforts over the past 23 years, Akshaya Patra has made a significant impact in alleviating hunger, not only in India but also overseas," Chauhan said.

"Their remarkable milestone of serving four billion meals is a testament to their dedication and compassion to commit to this global cause as we celebrate their achievements and continue our collective journey towards a hunger-free world,” he added. 


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