Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Monday criticised India’s amended citizenship law and said what was happening was bad and sad.
“I think what is happening is sad...It’s just bad,” Nadella told BuzzFeed News at an event in Manhattan on Monday. He spoke about the importance of both technology and immigration in his life and career. “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.”
“I’m not saying that any country doesn’t and should not care about its national security, borders do exist and they’re real and people will think about it,” Nadella said, adding that immigration was also an issue in America and Europe.
The good news, Nadella added, was that the matter was being debated and not hidden away in India – “a messy democracy”.
Nadella, who grew up in Hyderabad, is the first major tech CEO to speak up against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Soon after BuzzFeed News’ Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith put up Nadella’s comments, Microsoft tweeted a statement.
“Every country will and should define its borders, protect national security and set immigration policy accordingly,” Nadella was quoted as saying. “And in democracies, that is something that the people and their governments will debate and define within those bounds. I’m shaped by my Indian heritage, growing up in a multicultural India and my immigrant experience in the United States.”
He added: “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.”
On Tuesday, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Meenakshi Lekhi said Nadella was the perfect example of how the “literate need to be educated”. “Precise reason for CAA is to grant opportunities to persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” she tweeted. “How about granting these opportunities to Syrian Muslims instead of Yezidis in USA?”
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11 and signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind on December 13, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014.
The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. At least 26 people died in last month’s protests against the law. Of these, 19 died in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Karnataka.