Real learning can only be achieved with passion, curiosity, and persistence, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told a gathering of students at the Young Innovators summit in Delhi on Wednesday.

During a fireside chat with Anant Maheshwari, president, Microsoft India, Nadella also said it is important to maintain a balance between consumption and creation of technologies in this age.

Nadella said people should not just think about how much content they have consumed, but also how many artefacts they have created.

He added that he had visited various schools in Delhi in his three-day tour of India and met a number of young innovators and was impressed “by the quality of their ideas, the scope of ambition and the deep empathy they had for people and society”. He talked about students who were using artificial intelligence for speech therapy and making exoskeleton robots and air pollution detection systems.

He lauded 13-year-old Namya Joshi, a seventh-grade student of Sat Paul Mittal School, Ludhiana, Punjab, for making learning fun through technology and helping teachers at her school and in many other countries for converting their class lessons into interactive Minecraft sessions. “She learnt to program while having fun,” he added. He said that such young innovators had become an inspiration and guidance for others.

The real change that has happened over the years, he said agreeing with Maheshwari, is that instead of learning to use technology, today’s children are using technology to learn. He regretted the fact he was no longer able to spend many hours reading books by Russian authors and added that in case he was given one superpower, he would like to finish all the books that he had bought. It would make him a better person.

Asked to choose between Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar for batting prowess, he said that Kohli is the batsman for today, while Tendulkar was for yesterday. Between coding and cricket, he preferred “coding for cricket” as it provided deep work and a liberating exercise. To everyone’s surprise, he said that history was his favourite subject in school.

Other young entrepreneurs felicitated by Nadella included Pratik Mohapatra who had developed a sophisticated set of machine learning algorithms called OrganSecure, which helps patients requiring transplants find donors easily.

Then there was Ishlok Vashishtha and his four friends from Manav Rachna Institute of Research and Studies for developing Caeli, a smart anti-pollution face mask and a portable nebuliser to help those with breathing ailments like asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases.

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