The father-in-law of the new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – Narayana Murthy, was in a Bulgarian prison.
The story is told by himself at a technology festival in 2020. Murty shares how and why he ended up in prison in Bulgaria in 1974.
The father-in-law of the new British Prime Minister describes his stay in the Bulgarian prison as a “bitter incident” that turned him into a “compassionate capitalist”.
“It was a decisive moment in my life. I was in Nis, then Yugoslavia, and I had to catch a train to Sofia. I got on the train and inside I spoke to a girl. We were talking in French about life in Bulgaria, when the boy who was with her told me got angry about something, I didn’t understand what,” he says.
The angry boy called the police. Narayana Murthy was removed from the train and the policemen took his passport and luggage.
“They threw me into a two-by-two cell. There was only one toilet in the corner, no bed, chair or table. The floor was cold,” says Murthy.
Murthy spent 72 hours in prison, during which time he was not given any food. After the third day, the police took him to the platform and put him on a departing freight train. He remembers being told he was being let in because he was from the “friendly country of India”. His passport was returned when the train arrived in Istanbul.
Narayana Murthy has repeatedly said that this incident transformed him from a “confused communist into a compassionate capitalist”.
“If a country treats its friends like that, I never want to be part of a communist country,” he says.
After this incident, Murthy decided to become an entrepreneur, his first attempt at starting a company was unsuccessful. He claims that what happened in Bulgaria made him realize that a country can only prosper by creating jobs that can only be provided by entrepreneurs.
Today, Narayana Murthy is one of the innovators in the Indian technology industry. He founded his company Infosys in 1981 with no experience, with money he borrowed from his wife. He is currently among the richest people in India.