Trump’s India visit a blessing in disguise for Satya Nadella


The dates clashed for good it appears. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who courted a big controversy by saying “CAA is just bad for India” at a tech event last month, begins his three-day India trip from Monday while US President Donald Trump has ensured that all the space across media outlets goes to him.

Trump’s February 24-25 visit to India has taken the burden off Nadella’s shoulders of being picked by the media for his controversial CAA statement that did not go down well with a large section of the country’s population while BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi even trained guns at the corporate biggie.

Calling it a “perfect example” of “how literate need to be educated,” Lekhi had tweeted: “Precise reason for CAA to grant opportunities to persecuted minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. How about granting these opportunities to Syrian Muslims instead of Yezidis in USA?”

This outburst came after the Microsoft CEO spoke out against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at an event, saying: “I think what is happening is sad…It’s just bad…I would love to see a Bangladeshi immigrant come to India and create the next unicorn in India or become the next CEO of Infosys.”

Microsoft promptly issued a fresh statement by Nadella, saying, “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 find a prosperous startup or lead a multinational corporation benefitting Indian society and the economy at large.”

The damage, however, was done.

After a month, the issue has somewhat died down, but since he is visiting the country exactly after two years, Trump’s two-day India visit on February 24-25 has somewhat eclipsed Nadella’s presence — a blessing in disguise as the CAA controversy may not crop up owing to Trump hogging all the attention.

Microsoft is organising its ‘Future Decoded Summits’ in Mumbai and Bengaluru on February 24 and February 25, respectively.

At the summits, Nadella will share his vision for the future of technology and how Indian organisations can lead in an era of digital transformation.

The events would also see addresses by industry stalwarts and Microsoft executives, including Jean Philippe Courtois, EVP and President, Global Sales-Marketing and Operations.

In 2017, the India-born Microsoft CEO met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and discussed the company’s digital inclusion programme that leverages technology for improving rural healthcare and education.

Nadella, who hails from Hyderabad and became the Microsoft CEO in 2014, also participated in a round table at the NITI Aayog on tapping into cloud computing for good governance in the country.

This time, Nadella’s meeting with Modi appears difficult as the Prime Minister will be busy dealing with Trump’s hectic schedule.

The scenario might change only if Trump knows Nadella is here and makes it a point to take him onboard to showcase how America offers brilliant opportunities to the Indian-Americans, and win more hearts among the nearly 3 million-strong Indian diaspora.

According to data from the Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey (ACS) released in November last year, the number of Indians in the US were 17.8 lakh in 2010, which by 2018 had gone up to 26.5 lakh — a 49 per cent increase.

Newly arrived immigrants from India in 2017 were 1.6 lakh, which in 2018 declined to 88,000.

Nadella is a shining example. Along with Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Adobe President and CEO Santanu Narayan, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian and Mastercard’s CEO Ajay Banga, Nadella has taken the Indian talent to new heights in the US.

Will we witness Trump with Nadella at one side and Modi on the other?

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