Silicon Valley Indians urge Sunder Pichai, Satya Nadella to condemn Indian citizenship laws

People hold placards during a protest against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), at Jama Masjid, on December 27, 2019 in New Delhi. (Getty Images)

Indian-origin engineers, researchers, analysts, and designers working with global tech companies such as Google and Facebook have condemned the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in an open letter issued “in solidarity with the Indian democracy.”

In the letter posted through the “TechAgainstFascism” handle on medium.com, the signatories urged business leaders like Sundar Pichai (Alphabet), Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Dara Khosrowshahi (Uber), Mukesh Ambani (Jio), Gopal Vittal (Bharti Airtel), Kalyan Krishnamurthy (Flipkart) and Shantanu Narayen (Adobe) to take a stance and publicly denounce the “fascist acts by the Indian government.”

“We call upon the leaders to use technology as a force for good, to refuse to share user details with the government, refuse to shut off the Internet at the government’s whim, provide tools for citizen mobilization, and ensure that content moderation is not skewing pro-government,” the letter said. “We — engineers, researchers, analysts, and designers — of the technology industry, unflinchingly condemn the fascist Indian government and the brutality it enacts on citizens. The teargassing, sexual and physical abuse, and unlawful arrests by the police all over the country are a gross violation of universal human rights,” the letter first published in Medium December 18, that subsequently appeared in several media outlets, alleged.

As of Dec. 27, the letter received a total of 214 signatures, including of software engineers and researchers from Google, Microsoft, Uber, Amazon and Facebook.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, combined with the National Register for Citizens, is a deeply anti-Muslim scheme that will create statelessness and global disparity for Muslims, growing worse with India’s economic decline and climate change, the letter said.

Noting that the right to protest is fundamental to India’s constitution and history and Ahimsa was India’s weapon of resistance against the British, the letter said that by demonizing and attempting to suppress nonviolent action that questions its actions, the Indian state is forgetting the values and tactics that India so deeply cherishes.

According to news reports in India Times and other media outlets, these employees — who claim to be located across San Francisco, Seattle, London, Israel and Bengaluru — added that the opinions expressed are their own and do not reflect those of their employers.

“The CAA 2019 combined with the NRC, is a deeply anti-Muslim scheme that will create greater statelessness and global disparity for Muslims, growing worse with India’s economic decline and climate change,” the letter said.

It pointed out that with record-high unemployment levels, plummeting growth, and rising farmer suicides, such "ultra-nationalist and diversionary tactics are attempts by the Indian government to mask over its incompetence” over the biggest socio-economic crises in the country.

It noted that Internet — an open ecosystem that tech workers have worked hard to build and humanity benefits from — is banned in places like Assam, Delhi and Kashmir. “While portraying India as marching towards ‘Digital India’ and courting tech company business investment, the regressive government views the Internet as a political tool for suppression of citizen dissent, while utilizing the same networks to organize and spread fake content,” the letter alleged.

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