Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has criticized a controversial new law in India that couldfast-track citizenship for some immigrants from three neighboring countries — but not if they are Muslim. “I think what is happening is sad, primarily assort of someone who grew up there,” the Indian-born executive told BuzzFeed News at a Microsoft (MSFT) event in New York on Monday.
“I think it’s just bad.”CNN Business did not attend the event, but BuzzFeed News CEO Ben Smith published a transcript of the interview on Twitter. India’s Citizenship Amendment Bill, which waspassed by parliament in December, will fast-track citizenship for religious minorities -— including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who arrived in India before 2015.
The legislation has been met with fierce opposition from critics, who say it openly discriminates against Muslims. Some members of the minority religious group in India increasingly see themselves as second-class citizens in the predominantly Hindu country. The Indian government has fiercely defended the bill, saying it is intended to support religious minorities who are fleeing persecution in their home countries. But that has done little to dispel the public outcry: For weeks, violent mass protests have erupted across the country, leaving at least 22 people dead.
“The good news, at least as I see it, is it’s a messy democracy and people are debating it,” Nadella said Monday. “It’s not something that is hidden. It’s something that is being debated actively, but I’m definitely clear on what we stand for and what I stand for.”Nadella, who grew up in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad before moving to the United States, also reflected on his own experience as an immigrant. “If I had to sort of mirror what happened to me in the US, I hope that’s what happens in India,” he said.Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request from CNN Business for comment. But the company issued statement on Twitter from Nadella, who doubled down on his support for creating equal opportunities for immigrants.