Politics

Satya Nadella Has Misread The CAA And Agenda-Driven Media Has Misread Him

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Snapshot
  • If the Indian media can read Nadella’s statement with some nuance, they can read a new meaning into it.

    If they don’t, it proves the agenda-driven nature of the media.

Microsoft chief executive officer (CEO) Satya Nadella’s statement on India’s Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) proves two things: one, high-profile chief executives are as badly briefed about the things they comment on as those shouting “Allah-o-Akbar” on Indian streets. Nadella’s comments are broadly based on the agenda-driven fake media narratives about CAA. Two, this is obvious from the “spin” the media has managed to weave around his statement.

The media went into a feeding frenzy when BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith tweeted about what Nadella allegedly said at a Microsoft event: “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.”

This statement, assuming there is no misquote, indicates that Nadella has not understood the content and intent of the CAA, which is about fast-tracking citizenship for persecuted Bangladeshi Hindus (and Jains, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis and Buddhists).

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In short, his wish to see an Infosys CEO come from the Bangladeshi diaspora in India can come true even with CAA. As for the illegal Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh, he too can obtain citizenship after 11 years of staying in India. So, getting the next Infosys CEO or the next unicorn from Bangladeshi origin future citizens faces no kind of hurdle even after CAA.

However, one presumes that Nadella was talking about legal migrants and not illegal ones who slip through by sneaking under the barbed wire after paying bribes to border patrols. If he thinks a future Infosys CEO manhunt should have a catchment area that includes illegal migrants from Bangladesh, he is surely wrong.

In fact, the official statement put out by Microsoft India on its official handle clarifies this point unambiguously.

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It quotes Nadella thus: "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." (Italics mine)

If this is what Nadella really wanted to say or told Ben Smith, clearly the nuance is gone. The quote attributed to him has been misused by the media to suggest that Nadella opposes the CAA. Maybe he does, but if one were to look at the early part of his statement, one can claim the opposite: that he supports not only CAA, but the more contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Consider what he says in the early part of the official statement: “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.”

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Now how does this support the widespread media interpretation of Nadella’s statement as anti-CAA, when the CAA was debated and voted in Parliament with an overwhelming majority.

CAA is about defining immigration policies and the grant of citizenship to persecuted peoples from the neighbourhood. One can even claim that Nadella supports NRC, for that is the only way the country can find out who lives within its “borders”, protect “national security” and “set immigration policy accordingly”.

However, we will not claim that Nadella wants NRC for the simple reason that his statement is nuanced, and not meant to take up a political position for or against CAA or NRC.

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As for his wish that immigrants should be allowed to come in legally and contribute to corporate entrepreneurship and economic growth, India already ensures that; even the CAA is about allowing “persecuted” migrant communities to become citizens faster.

This will enable them to become entrepreneurs faster than before. CAA will ensure that Infosys can have a bigger catchment area for future executives. Right now they cannot do so as persecuted refugees are treated the same as illegal immigrants and live in miserable hovels and shanties all over India.

If the Indian media can read Nadella’s statement with some nuance, they can read a new meaning into it. If they don’t, it proves the agenda-driven nature of the media.

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