Update (14-01-2020 11:10 am IST): BuzzFeed News reporter Pranav Dixit noted in a tweet that Microsoft has published a watered-down statement detailing Nadella’s stance on India’s CAA legislation, after the outlet published its piece with the CEO’s quote to editor-in-chief Ben Smith. This highlights the reluctance of companies to take a stance on political issues concerning the countries in which they do business.
It’s rare for CEOs of tech companies to take a stance on political issues, particularly when they aren’t directly affected. Satya Nadella bucked the trend today, as he criticized India’s controversial Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) that excludes Muslim refugees from obtaining citizenship in India (while the privilege is granted to refugees of other persecuted minorities).
Talking to BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, at an event in Manhattan yesterday, the India-born CEO said what’s happening in the country is “sad.” He added that he’d love to see a Bangladeshi come to the country and create the next unicorn:
I think what is happening is sad. I feel, and and in fact quite frankly, now being informed shaped by the two amazing American things that I’ve observed which is both, it’s technology reaching me where I was growing up and its immigration policy and even a story like mine being possible in a country like this.
I think, it’s just bad, 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.
Later last night, Microsoft India published a statement where Nadella said, “My hope is for an India where an immigrant can aspire found a prosperous start-up or lead a multinational corporation benefitting Indian society and economy at large.”
Statement from Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft pic.twitter.com/lzsqAUHu3I
— Microsoft India (@MicrosoftIndia) January 13, 2020
To recap, India’s new CAA legislation, clubbed with the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), it poses a threat to minorities in the country.
By popular demand, here’s the verbate pic.twitter.com/I8YcMDJsf8
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) January 13, 2020
The passing of the law has lead to numerous ongoing protests across the country, curfews and internet shutdowns in various areas, and violence by masked thugs in universities.
While Nadella is one of the first Indian-origin CEOs in the valley to comment on this issue, it’ll be nice to see other desi folks comment on the law.