New Delhi: When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) “just bad”, while talking to editors at an event in Manhattan earlier this week, he took Twitter by storm.
Responding to a question on CAA by Ben Smith, the editor-in-chief of buzzfeednews.com, Nadella said he thought what was happening in India was “sad”, and that he 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”.
Smith later posted a tweet quoting Nadella, the Hyderabad-born CEO.
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
Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla was also in agreement with Nadella and said: “I strongly believe India should be a secular country.”
Academicians and public personalities, including Sadanand Dhume, Ramachandra Guha and Mihir Sharma, applauded Nadella for being one of the few CEOs to have taken a stand against the Narendra Modi government’s amended Citizenship Act.
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
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
This is a great answer from Satya Nadella and I wish a few Indian CEOs would have the courage to say the same https://t.co/NWoKIHqT5x
— Mihir Sharma (@mihirssharma) January 14, 2020
This is Satya Nadella's full statement on CAA. So now, we have Microsoft CEO advising Modi Sarkar that CAA is a bad bad idea and endorsing the protests against it!! pic.twitter.com/DDY4ITkjxf
— Brijesh Kalappa (@brijeshkalappa) January 14, 2020
But Nadella also received criticism from BJP spokespersons and other Right-wing authors who accused him of falling into the “political trap”. BJP supporter Shefali Vaidya accused him of ignorance, while former Infosys director Mohandas Pai said the Microsoft Board should advise Nadella to keep away from “politics of others”.
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
"Anyone Showing BJP A Mirror…": Congress Over Satya Nadella's Remarkshttps://t.co/pUa0TaQPjn
— Mohandas Pai (@TVMohandasPai) January 14, 2020
Clarification on CAA
Hours after Smith’s tweet, Nadella issued a clarification on the subject. Microsoft’s Twitter handle released his ‘official statement’ on the CAA.
Nadella’s statement maintained that “every country will and should define its borders, protect national security and set immigration policy accordingly”.
Statement from Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft pic.twitter.com/lzsqAUHu3I
— Microsoft India (@MicrosoftIndia) January 13, 2020
Soon after this statement, Twitter users accused him of being confused over his stance on the amended Citizenship Act. Several BJP spokespersons, who had criticised him for his previous statement, also quickly warmed up to him.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said: “This is what the government of this country has done. We are looking after national security and protecting borders.”
Some Right-leaning authors also tweeted clarifications on the same even as a few others accused the media of “misreading” his earlier statement.
Now this is a fair position to take. Thank you @satyanadella for saying very unambiguously that ‘every country will abd should define its borders, protect national security and set immigration policy accordingly’. If that is not a ringing endorsement of #CAA, I don’t know what is https://t.co/2F0GEnHufV
— Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) January 14, 2020
Satya Nadella Has Misread The CAA And Agenda-Driven Media Has Misread Him
— Mohandas Pai (@TVMohandasPai) January 14, 2020
Ram Ram ji 🙏 If @satyanadella said this then why is media saying he spoke against #CAA ? Media all over the world sucks I guess 🙏 So as we giving importance to what he said, #SatyaNadella said to implement #NRC 🤣 Let’s support him Liberals as he is your guy 👍#PayalRohatgi pic.twitter.com/NrHWzbXZVI
— PAYAL ROHATGI & Team- Bhagwan Ram Bhakts (@Payal_Rohatgi) January 14, 2020
Not surprisingly, Nadella’s ‘renewed’ stance on the CAA led to a heated debate between the Left and Right-leaning users on Twitter.
According to some, Nadella’s position swayed from appreciation to disappointment within a matter of few hours. A few journalists also claimed that the Microsoft CEO got swayed by “Leftist propaganda”.
After @SatyaNadella’s ‘sad and just bad’ comment on CAA, @Microsoft issued a clarification. Clearly his managers realized he wasn’t conversant with the fine points of the CAA and may have got swayed by Leftist propaganda.
— Rahul Shivshankar (@RShivshankar) January 14, 2020
Others predicted that Nadella’s statement was misconstrued to support one’s own agenda.
— Ram Subramanian (@VORdotcom) January 14, 2020