Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has criticized the divisive Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), saying what is happening is just bad and he would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant create the next unicorn in India.
His comments came while speaking to editors at a Microsoft event in Manhattan where he was asked about the contentious issue of CAA which grants citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but excludes Muslims.
“I think what is happening is sad. … It’s just bad,” Nadella told BuzzFeed News Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith, emphasizing the role that technology and immigration have played in his life and career. “And even a story like mine being possible in a country like this — I think, if anything, I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant who comes to India and creates the next unicorn in India or becomes the CEO of Infosys. That should be the aspiration. If I had to sort of mirror what happened to me in the US, I hope that’s what happens in India.”
Nadella, who was born and raised in Hyderabad, also spoke about his multicultural roots. “I’m very proud of where I get my heritage, culturally in that place, and I grew up in a city, Hyderabad. I always felt it was a great place to grow up. We celebrated Eid, we celebrated Christmas, Diwali — all three festivals that are big for us,” he said.
Shortly after Smith shared Nadella’s remarks, Microsoft tweeted a statement attributed to the CEO: “I’m shaped by my Indian heritage, growing up in a multicultural India and my immigrant experience in the United States. My hope is for an India where an immigrant can aspire to found a prosperous start-up or lead a multinational corporation benefitting Indian society and the economy at large.”
Statement from Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft pic.twitter.com/lzsqAUHu3I
— Microsoft India (@MicrosoftIndia) January 13, 2020
Following Nadella’s comments, Indian historian and author Ramachandra Guha, who was detained in Bangalore last month for protesting the new law, tweeted in praise of Nadella.
I am glad Satya Nadella has said what he has. I wish that one of our own IT czars had the courage and wisdom to say this first. Or to say it even now. https://t.co/KsKbDUtMQk
— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) January 13, 2020
Author Sadanand Dhume also shared his thoughts:
I’m somewhat surprised that Satya Nadella touched this issue, but not at all surprised that he disapproves of India’s citizenship law. A successful firm like Microsoft is built on the principle of treating all people equally regardless of their faith. https://t.co/wcqspaZp4C
— Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) January 13, 2020
Irrespective of what #satyanadella said or did not say, no one can deny that the world is speculating on the democratic & secular credentials of our republic. We had showed the world that there can be progress inspite having the most diverse society. We lost that edge.
— Priyank Kharge / ಪ್ರಿಯಾಂಕ್ ಖರ್ಗೆ (@PriyankKharge) January 14, 2020
While several people hailed Nadella for voicing outrage against CAA, pro-BJP and RSS supporters started taunting him.
How literate need to be educated ! Perfect example. Precise reason for CAA is to grant opportunities to persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan & Afghanistan.
How about granting these opportunities to Syrian Muslims instead of Yezidis in USA ? pic.twitter.com/eTm0EQ1O25
— Meenakashi Lekhi (@M_Lekhi) January 14, 2020
What ‘new citizenship act’, could you elaborate @satyanadella? And who has stopped Bangladeshis from applying for immigration through proper channels? #CAA is about making it easy for persecuted Indic minorities to get citizenship. A simple google search could have told you that. https://t.co/P9kLYP47Vi
— Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) January 13, 2020
#SatyaNadella Sir anyone crossings Mexican border illegally can setup startup in USA ?
If not then how illigal Bangladeshi can do same in India. ?
— (@kkay_patel) January 14, 2020
According to the Citizenship Amendment Act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship. The Act intentionally leaves out Muslims.
The BJP-led government has said the new law will be followed by a National Register of Citizens (NRC) that means Muslims must prove they were original residents of India and not refugees from these three countries. Non-Muslims listed in the law, by contrast, have a clear path to citizenship.
The religiously discriminatory mechanisms of the Act shares worrying similarities with the rhetoric and policies of the Nazi German state between 1929-1940.