Satya Nadella, the outspoken, Harvard-educated, Indian-born CEO of Microsoft, recently expressed his dismay at a current law in India that criminalizes Islamophobia.
The amendment, brought forth by the right wing Hindu BJP party in 2015, is also believed to have prompted an attack on a Danish newspaper newspaper in 2015, which depicted Prophet Muhammad as a dog.
Nadella was approached by the Hindu Voice, a social, political, and religious advocacy group dedicated to protecting the interests of Hindu Hindus, to express his views on the restriction.
In response, Nadella penned an op-ed for The Hindu newspaper. Nadella condemned the law, and explained that it was a blatant attempt to stifle pluralism and religious freedom in India.
“In India, being Sikh does not make you intolerant of other religions and beliefs. Being Muslim does not make you intolerant of other faiths and beliefs. Being Hindu does not make you intolerant of other faiths and beliefs.”
In response to the predominately Hindu legislation, Nadella wrote, “I think it’s just bad. I think it’s bad on many different levels. Insecurities and prejudgements cannot be solved by the Government of India. There is no government, be it a democratic government or a fascist government, that is going to negate the inherent dignity and worth of every human being.”
In the piece, Nadella calls upon Indian politicians and leaders to do more to increase religious freedom in the country. He called on them to crack down on racist and xenophobic views held within India.
“As I said, economic diversity is fundamental to India’s identity. I wouldn’t deny that in a country where there are so many traditions and cultures, but they’re grounded in a democratic constitution, we need to guard against dividing the country based on religious backgrounds,” he went on to say.
“I don’t think it’s sustainable. I think it’s not the kind of harmony we aspire to. I think it’s not the kind of harmony that we’re trying to promote. So I hope, and I hope strongly, that Indian government, the government of our country, the BJP government, we will continue to address this issue, and I hope we also do so on other grounds, because without such an understanding on other grounds, I think I’m afraid we’re really neglecting a whole lot of potential that we can offer the world.”
India, known for its pluralistic, tolerant society, has been heavily criticized for the law; in 2015, well-known Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi received an award for his lifelong fight for children who are enslaved or exploited for the flesh trade.
Satyarthi said, “Even though today’s world is fast changing, we find many in India being more discriminatory to women, especially Muslim women, than in some countries in Europe or the West.”
Satyarthi continued, “What has happened in today’s world that some individual or a political party in India can start a movement like the one started in the name of religion, and what has happened in the country in the name of religion is madness.”
Islamophobia or “fear of Islam” is often exploited by right wing extremist groups to further hateful agendas.
According to Satyarthi, “[Such] acts promote communalism, hatred, violence, in a world which is struggling to understand humanity.”
Nadella appears to be a rare dissenting voice in the country.
In other news, Nadella was recently interviewed by the Indian conglomerate Reliance where he offered a range of thoughts on the company’s future. In the interview, Nadella gave his thoughts on the internet, predictions for the future, and his hobbies.