Microsoft CEO remains hopeful about India with its strong foundation.
Amid reports that Satya Nadella may cancel his planned India trip over his “sad, bad” comments on its new citizenship law, Microsoft’s Indian American CEO courted a fresh controversy suggesting it was “narrow.”
Nevertheless Nadella expressed optimism for India even as he warned that countries which are not immigrant friendly would likely miss out on the global technical boom.
“People will only come when people know you’re an immigrant-friendly country,” he told Bloomberg in an interview Tuesday on the sidelines of World Economic Forum at Davos.
“Every country is rethinking what is in their national interest,” Nadella said. But “governments should maintain that modicum of enlightenment and not think about it very narrowly.”
However, Nadella said he remained hopeful about the land of his birth. “I’m an India optimist,” he said.
“The fact that there is a 70-year history of nation-building, I think it’s a very strong foundation. I grew up in that country. I’m proud of that heritage. I’m influenced by that experience.”
Nadella’s remarks on immigration came amid reports suggesting he may cancel his scheduled trip to India this week following a sharp reaction to his previous comments on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
“I think what is happening is sad… It’s just bad….,” Nadella, the first Indian American tech honcho to comment on the controversial act, had said at a meeting with editors in New York last week.
“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,” he was quoted as saying by Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith in a tweet.
As the comment evoked a sharp reaction in India, Microsoft issued a more nuanced statement on his behalf.
“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 & the economy at large,” Nadella said citing his own success story in America
Notified Jan 11, CAA would fast track Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants who came to India before Dec 31, 2014 fleeing religious persecution in Islamic Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The new law specifically offers Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian migrants from the three neighboring countries a path to Indian citizenship after six years stay instead of the usual 12 for others.
Cities across India have witnessed violent protests since CAA was passed by the Indian parliament on Dec 12 with opponents of the law calling it violative of the secular Indian constitution as it excludes Muslims.
Hearing 143 petitions challenging the constitutional validity of CAA on Jan 22, the Indian Supreme Court referred it to a larger five judge constitutional bench, but declined to stay its implementation.