Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella is planning to visit India later this month, multiple sources familiar with the plans told Reuters, a test for the Indian-born head who recently criticised Indian immigration policy.
India is a major market for Microsoft and other technology companies. India’s southern city of Hyderabad, where Nadella grew up, is home to Microsoft’s biggest research and development centre outside of the United States.
Nadella is planning to be in India between February 24 and February 26 and will likely visit New Delhi, tech hub Bengaluru, and the financial capital of Mumbai, two people familiar with the plans said.
He is also likely to meet senior Indian industry leaders during his visit, the sources said. The sources did not want to be identified because the company has yet to make a public announcement.
Microsoft declined to comment when asked about a visit. “We don’t have anything to share at the moment,” a company spokeswoman said.
Microsoft also is trying arrange for Nadella to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one of the sources added, although the meeting has yet to be confirmed. The Prime Minister’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Nadella last month stoked controversy in India when he was quoted by Buzzfeed as saying a new law implemented by Modi’s government that eases the path to citizenship for non-Muslims in nearby nations was “just bad”.
His comments drew sharp criticism from PM Modi’s ruling party. Microsoft issued a statement later quoting Nadella as saying that every country has the right to protect and define its borders.
A visit by Nadella would be in the midst of the government taking a tougher stance against foreign technology companies competing in the domestic market by drafting laws aimed at more tightly-controlled cross-border data flows.
The visit would also be a month after Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos made a trip to the country and was snubbed by senior members of the government.
India has taken a hard stance against the US e-commerce sector, with Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart facing an antitrust probe and criticism from brick-and-mortar traders against their business practices.
When Bezos visited India last month and announced a new $1 billion investment, India’s trade minister brushed him off by saying Amazon was doing no “great favour” to India. Modi also did not meet Bezos despite repeated requests by the company.
© Thomson Reuters 2020