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Microsoft CEO Criticizes India's Exclusionary Citizenship Law, Compares To US Experience

Microsoft CEO Criticizes India's Exclusionary Citizenship Law, Compares To US Experience

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella criticized India's recent Citizenship Amendment Act, saying it is against India's plurality and hurts the country's economic prospects.

What Happened

"I think it's just bad if anything," Nadella told Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith on Monday. "I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant who comes to India and create the next unicorn in India, or becomes the CEO of Infosys Ltd. (NYSE: INFY)."

The Microsoft CEO drew upon his own experience as an immigrant in the United States and said that he hoped the experience of immigrants in India mirrored his experience in the U.S. Nadella also told Smith that Capitalism couldn't thrive in such an environment. "Capitalism...has only thrived because of market forces and liberal values, both acting and I hope [India] figures it out," he said.

The Hyderabad-born Nadella noted that he grew up in an environment of plurality where they celebrated festivals from every religion, which makes the CAA all the more objectionable to him.

Microsoft India later put out a toned-down version of the same comments on Nadella's behalf on Twitter, with emphasis changed to each country's right to set immigration policy best suited for their "national security."

Why It Matters

The citizenship act gives the right to Indian citizenship for immigrants from the neighboring countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, who arrived in India before 2014. The law, which, according to the government, is aimed at granting citizenship and not taking it away, specifically excludes Muslims while granting citizenship to people of all other major religions of the region.

Nationwide protests against the law have continued since the bill was passed last month. The critics have argued that it is an attempt to damage India's secular ethos and a potential move towards turning India into a state based on Hindu nationalism. Combined with a proposed National Register of Citizens, the law has sparked fears that it will be used to exclude genuine citizens of India who are of the Islamic faith or low-income communities that may not be able to present the required documents to prove citizenship.

Nadella, along with Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) CEO Sundar Pichai, both of Indian origins, have long been pressed by the protestors to speak up. Nadella has just become the first to break the silence.

Other major tech giants like Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN), and Twitter Inc. (NASDAQ: TWTR), which have a prominent presence in India, have also refrained from commenting on the politically divisive issue.

Price Action

Microsoft's shares closed 1.2% higher at $163.28 on Monday.

Photo Credit: Official Leweb Photos via Wikimedia


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