Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella seemed to wade into the CAA-NRC debate on Monday. He was quoted by Buzzfeed's Editor-in-Chief, Ben Smith, as saying that he felt 'sad about what was happening'.
According to Smith's tweet, Nadella added that he would love to see a 'Bangladeshi immigrant come to India and create the next unicorn or become the next CEO of Infosys."
Microsoft India later took to social media to release a statement, where Nadella reiterated his hope "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".
"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," he added.
An admirable sentiment, but this does seem to ignore something. Both the comments made by Nadella seems to miss out on the fact that despite the implementation of the CAA, nothing really stops an immigrant, Bangladeshi or otherwise, from coming to India.
Nadella makes mention of his "immigrant experience" in the US in the statement. And while the system may differ from nation to nation, immigrants wishing to come to India too will have the closest possible approximation of his experience.
The CAA, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly reminds, is to help persecuted minorities from six religions and three countries gain citizenship in India. Thus, it will fast-track the citizenship procedure for those who the new law deems as being in need of help.
"I'm not saying that any country doesn't and should not care about its own national security, borders do exist and they're real and people will think about it, I mean after all immigration is an issue in this country, it's an issue in Europe and it's an issue in India, but the approach that one takes to deal with what is immigration, who are immigrants and minority groups, that sensibility," Nadella was quoted as saying by Buzzfeed.
But while immigration may indeed be an issue in India and elsewhere, technically speaking, there's nothing stopping an immigrant from having a story like his, or even from aspiring to "found a prosperous start-up or lead a multinational corporation" in India.
To go back to the Bangladeshi immigrant example, according to the amended law, Bangladeshis who are Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Christian, Parsi or Buddhist can now make use of the CAA. And while Muslims have been left out of the law, they too can become Indian citizens. The only difference is that they would fall outside of the purview of the CAA and will thus need to be a resident for 11 years.
So, does Satya Nadella oppose the CAA? And do his recent comments prove the same? Well, that now seems to depend on who you ask. While many, such as historian Ramachandra Guha, have lauded Nadella for speaking out on the topic, his comments evoked a mixed bag of reactions from others. Many on Twitter for example remain critical.