Satya Nadella gets coveted seat for Obama address

Washington, Jan 11 (IANS) Satya Nadella, Indian-American Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, will be among the “many Americans who have inspired Barack” watching President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address Tuesday from the First Lady’s Box.

The 23 special guests attending Obama’s annual address to the Congress with first lady Michelle Obama “represent the progress we have made” over the last seven years. the White House said

“Their stories – of struggle and success – highlight where we have been and where America is going in the future, building on the best of what our country has to offer.”

“The guests personify President Obama’s time in office and most importantly, they represent who we are as Americans: inclusive and compassionate, innovative and courageous,” it said.

Originally from Hyderabad, India, Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992 and became its CEO in February 2014.

“Microsoft has been a leader in expanding access to computer science in K-12 classrooms, and in, a private public partnership to increase awareness of and support for the teaching profession,” the White House said.

“In September, the company announced a new $75 million effort to expand computer science education, including opportunities for engineers from Microsoft and other companies with teachers to team-teach computer science,” it said.

“In October 2015, under Satya’s leadership, Microsoft increased its paid leave benefits by eight weeks and now includes 20 weeks of paid leave for new mothers and 12 weeks for non-birth parents,”

Obama, who is making a strong push for common sense gun control measures has also decided to keep one of 24 guest seats empty, to symbolize victims of gun violence.

Among other special guests would be Braeden Mannering, a 12-year-old boy who “after attending the White House Kids’ ‘State Dinner,’ started his own nonprofit to provide healthy food to homeless and low-income individuals in his community.”

With South Carolina’s Republican Governor Nikki Haley seen as a potential vice presidential candidate, giving her party’s response to Obama’s address, two Indian-American governors would be bookending the president’s annual speeches.

Republican Congressional leaders had chosen Louisiana’s outgoing governor Bobby Jindal to give the party’s response to Obama’s first address in 2009.

For his final address, Obama plans to skip the traditional “laundry list” of legislative proposals, new policies and presidential appeals in favour of a broad overview of what he has accomplished since 2009 and what is undone in his final year in office.

He will give his assessment of what the country looks like in 2016 and the direction he hopes it will take in the future, aides said.

Obama, according to his chief of staff, Denis McDonough would argue that “we’ve brought America back” citing achievements like the nuclear deal with Iran, restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, a global climate pact and an Asia-Pacific trade deal.

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