Microsoft Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Satya Nadella said on Monday he was saddened by "what is happening", amid protests in India over the new Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). "I think what is happening is sad... It's just bad...I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant who comes to India and creates the next unicorn in India or becomes the next CEO of Infosys," Satya Nadella told BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith at a Microsoft event in the US.
Asked Microsoft CEO @satyanadella about India's new Citizenship Act. "I think what is happening is sad... It's just bad.... I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant who comes to India and creates the next unicorn in India or becomes the next CEO of Infosys" cc @PranavDixit— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) January 13, 2020
Later, in a statement tweeted by Microsoft India from its official handle, Mr Nadella said, "Every country will and should define its borders, protect national security and set immigration policy accordingly. 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. 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
Mr Nadella grew up in Hyderabad, a technology hub that is home to the biggest Microsoft research and development centre outside the US.
The Microsoft CEO's statement comes amid ongoing protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which critics have termed as "communal" and "unconstitutional". The law aims to expedite citizenship for migrants from minority communities in three neighbouring countries, leaving Muslims out of its ambit. Critics say that the law, when implemented along with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), will threaten genuine Muslim citizens in the country.
Mr Nadella's comment was backed by noted historian Ramachandra Guha, who wished that big names in the domestic IT industry would take a stand like him. "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," he tweeted.
Ramachandra Guha was detained by police while participating in a protest against the citizenship law in Bengaluru last month.
A group of over 150 Indian-origin professionals employed with tech giants such as Google, Uber, Amazon and Facebook had earlier written an open letter against the Citizenship Amendment Act and a possible nationwide National Register of Citizens, dubbing both the initiatives as "fascist".
The letter by "TechAgainstFascism" on online publishing platform Medium also urged business leaders such as Satya Nadella, Alphabet Inc CEO Sundar Pichai and Reliance Industries Limited head Mukesh Ambani to "publicly denounce" the central government's actions. "The CAA 2019 combined with the NRC is a deeply anti-Muslim scheme that will create greater statelessness and global disparity for Muslims, growing worse with India's economic decline and climate change," the letter read.
(With inputs from PTI)