Monday, September 28, 2015

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, his IAS father, Naxalism and “dead revolutionaries of Srikakulam”

Nadella while listening to PM Modi at San Jose, California
EVERYONE knows who Satya Nadella is. No prize for guessing it. He is the CEO of Microsoft. But some of you may be unaware of a factoid -- Nadella is the son of an IAS officer named BN Yugandhar. Yugandhar, a 1962 batch IAS had trained and influenced many officers including former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao in Mussoorie academy. Later he became a member of Planning Commission of India, now called NITI Aayog. On Saturday night, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the Digital India dinner at San Jose of Silicon Valley, Nadella referred to an incident of Naxalism that he…
as a child in 1970 (his father was a DM in Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh) had witnessed. That incident, according to Nadella's own word still haunts him. He was just three-year-old then. He talked about the photographs of two “dead revolutionaries”, who had left teaching to join Naxalism. Nadella’s simple point was that if today’s technology and the opportunities associated with it, had been available during that point of time, those teachers in rural India would not have probably taken arms. Nadella did not however use the word “Naxal”, “Maoism” or “Left extremism” but he clearly meant so.
Here is what Nadella said in his address, as PM Modi was seen carefully listening to: “In my early childhood in a remote district of India, one afternoon, I saw two photographs that haunt me still. I saw pictures of two people who were laying overturned charpoys with two Philips transistor radios next to them. In subsequent years, I came to understand much more about these two people. What I saw that day were two photographs of dead revolutionaries. The year was 1970 and the district was Srikakulam. They were schoolteachers who decided to leave teaching. I think about their lives and lives of others who followed similar path. I think about those people who could have achieved with true empowerment of technology and other resources. All of these lead me to think about the future. What opportunities can be unlocked, what change can be sparked, what students can be inspired to reach new potential to help shape a better world. Since 1970, our technology, economy and society have progressed in tandem. In 2015, it’s clear to me that now is the time for us collectively to come together and empower people from all over the world…Srikakulam to East Palo Alto (a city in California) to make their hopes a reality”.
After his speech, one Anjali Mody tweeted, addressing former foreign secretary and ex-Indian ambassador to US Nirupama Rao: “@NMenonRao his father was DM in srikakulam & was one of v few who believed that there had to be a socio-econ solution & not a police-led one.”
Rao replied: “I am aware of that. His father was one of my instructors during my training period in Mussoorie”.
In fact, Nadella’s father-in-law KR Venugopal is also a 1962 batch IAS. Both Venugopal and Yugandhar were secretaries to former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao.
Significantly, Left extremism began in West Bengal’s Naxalbari in 1967 (the name Naxalite came from that). But it soon spread to various places in India including Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh that Nadella was talking about. In Andhra Pradesh, there were instances of IAS officers being kidnapped by the Naxalites to get their cadres released from jail.

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