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ISIS is a common threat

The ISIS threatens to destabilise regimes within its immediate periphery as much as it provokes murder and mayhem on more distant targets.
When India reassumes its engagement with successor states of the Safavid, Ottoman and European empires to its west up to the Nile and the Sahel in north Africa, it will renew dialogue with a region that has not had a good night’s sleep for at least two centuries. Analysis is not an advent of any blame game. The fault, as that crusty realist Shakespeare noted, may lie in ourselves, rather than our stars, but the destiny of men also has its profound cycles across the cartwheels of time. The past is littered with skeletons of nations which once ruled as much as the world as they could reach, and then imploded, leaving those who suffered colonisation to search for a new beginning within the debris. This search has never been easy, or short. All interventions disorient. Every collapse destabilises.
The one great incubation of the 20th century is that it has made the 21st a more egalitarian age. We should be careful, however, about how far we stretch the meaning of a more egalitarian spirit. It does not necessarily mean an equitable transformation towards democracy. But the era of acquisitive, or even domineering, empires is over. Great powers have to be more subtle in their manoeuvres, more guarded in their expectations. Only foolish powers, super or medium-sized, make non-negotiable demands.
The job of a contemporary diplomat, as he seeks to negotiate his or her way towards a better relationship, is certainly not to play God. The divine right of judgement is now best left to the sole custody of a historian. Nor can a diplomat afford to become a schoolmaster. The class will soon become empty. The world may not be a comity of nations that are equal, but it is certainly a more equitable globe.
The best diplomat is a geologist working within the turbulent geographic and mental landscapes embedded in fast-changing scenarios. The objective? How do you spot a port for a bilateral anchor?
India has one substantive advantage in West Asia and Africa. It does not have to deal with hostile governments. Most nations of the region host Indians, sometimes in millions, who work and contribute creatively to local economies. The crucial, if often diplomatically silent, question is: we may not have enemies, but do we have friends? More important: does friendship pass the strategic test? This is important because the nature of this region has changed. From the oil price revolution of 1973 to the beginning of this century, this region was, albeit to different degrees, synonymous with economic growth and hence a welcome partner for all nations with the ability to participate in that growth. Today, the prime determinant of relations has become response to multi-dimensional conflict.

“ISIS has formally declared India as an enemy. The diplomatic necessity is to raise sufficient awareness of the need for an uncompromising united front against ISIS. ISIS’ enormous potential to destabilise lies in the fact that it has become the largest sanctuary of rogue-movements.”

There are many wars going on simultaneously, but by far the most dangerous of them is the deadly challenge posed by terrorism in its latest manifestation. In its previous phase, terrorism was a manic form of hit-and-run, or hit-and-die violence organised by small groups or militias, many of whom were used by regular intelligence agencies in the service of “war by other means”. The emergence of ISIS, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has radically changed the metabolism and reach of this danger. It is true that ISIS rose from the swamp of contrary ambitions of regional powers. As always with Dr Frankenstein’s monster, the end-product has moved away from the range of his master’s voice. Today the pseudo-Caliphate has an agenda of its own, and threatens to destabilise regimes within its immediate periphery as much as it provokes murder and mayhem on more distant targets.

We in India understand this danger all too well. ISIS has formally declared India as an enemy. The diplomatic

necessity is to raise sufficient awareness of the need for an uncompromising united front against ISIS. This pseudo-Caliphate has already acquired the geography of a medium-sized nation, and the revenue of a smaller one. But its enormous potential to destabilise lies in the fact that it has become the largest sanctuary of rogue-movements, sheltering under the banner of false fantasies but nurtured by the dialectic of radical Islamism. This is not new in the history of Muslims. Such extremist groups appeared in the time of the first four Caliphs, proving that the power to mislead can have as much traction as the ability to lead.

We know that we cannot be indifferent to this mortal danger, or take comfort in distance. The enemy is at our doorstep as well, and we are not speaking psychologically here. India must build strategic links and relationships with the major powers in West Asia in the common confrontation against terrorism and a terrorist neo-state. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads towards the region in the near future, this will surely be at the top of his mind. One hopes that his hosts are thinking on similar lines. If the mind is clear, the rest will follow.


M J Akbar
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M J Akbar

R.I.P. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam.

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, best known as India’s Missile Man, was a life of extreme humility and a single minded devotion.  He was responsible for the missile technology that India talks about so naturally today. It was his dedication that sowed the seeds of India’s successful space research.  India owes a lot  to him for its missile program, a program that succeeded in the face of sanctions. It was he who made India believe in itself.

Also, let us not forget, he operated in an era, where the pulls of nuclear proliferation were critical. He managed India’s nuclear program at a time when it would have been easy for anybody of his caliber to have indulgence. We all know  what happened in neighbouring countries, and what happened to the world efforts of stopping proliferation.  But, APJ’s commitment to his vision and goal were un-finch able. This led to the world believe that India’s nuclear or space program could never be questioned for nuclear proliferation. The world can apply sanctions, but could not accuse India of being on the wrong side of the Nuclear Technology proliferation.   But above, all his life was so full of humility that came so naturally to him, in whatever he did. He was one of the most loved Presidents that Indian had.

Towards his end, Bharat Ratna Dr APJ Abdul Kalam  was doing what he enjoyed the best – teaching & talking to students.

This country will always remember the beloved APJ as a personified example of humility. Intellectual Post Bureau brings you a brief synopsys of the journey of the legend that Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was :

  • 15-Oct-2015 : APJ was born to a Tamil muslim fishing family in Rameshwaram. His father was Jainulabdeen and mother was Asiamma.
  • His Family had a poor upbringing and young APJ had to start working at a young age to supplement the family income. He also distributed newspapers in his young days.
  • 1954 : Graduated in Physics from St Josephs College, Tiruchirapelli.
  • 1955 : Moved to Madras to study Aerospace Engineering.
  • 1960 : Joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the DRDO after graduating from Madras Institute of Technology.
  • 1969 : Was transferred to ISRO, where he was Project Director for SLV-III ( Satellite Launch Vehicle )
  • 1970’s : APJ Directed two projects ( Project Devil and Project Valiant ), for developing ballistic   missiles from the successful SLV technology. Prime Minister also allocated secret funds for these aerospace projects headed by APJ.
  • 1980 : APJ and Dr V S Arunachalam worked together to set in motion an ambitious project to develop a string of missiles including the Agni and Prithvi.
  • 1981 :  Awarded the Padma Bhushan.
  • 1990 :  Awarded the Padma Vibhushan.
  • 1998 : Awarded the Veer Savarkar award.
  • 1992 to 1999 :  APJ served as the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister.  The Pohkran-II tests were conducted during this period.
  • 1988 : APJ along with cardiologist Dr Soma Raju,  developed a low cost coronary stent called as the “Kalam-Raju-Stent” . In 2012 , the same duo also developed a Tablet called “Kalam-Raju-Tablet”
  • 1997 :  Awarded the Bharat Ratna.
  • 1999 : Writes his Autobiography – Wings of Fire.
  • Jul-2002 to Jul-2007  : Served as the President of India.
  • In 2005, Switzerland declared 26 May as “Science Day” to commemorate Kalam’s visit to the country.
  • 2007 onwards :
  1. Took lectures at IIM-Shillong, IIM-Ahmedabad and IIM-Indore where he was a faculty.
  2. He was a Chancellor of the Indian Institute of the Space Science and Technology – Thiruvananthapuram.
  3. He was also a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Anna University. He taught Information Technology at the International Institute of Information Technology – Hyderabad.
  4. He also taught technology at Banaras Hindu University.
  • APJ’s 79th birthday was recognised as Worlds Student Day by the United Nations.
  • 27-Jul-2016 :  While delivering a lecture at IIM-Shillong,  DR A P J Abdul Kalam suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away.

Intellectual Bureau
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Intellectual Bureau

Decoding Selfes!

Selfies selfies selfies everywhere!  To the point of it being very bizarre and unsafe.

Right from Ellen DeGeneres’s twitter crashing selfie, to Narendra Modi’s election code violation selfie, the selfie bug has caught on like anything.

Hundreds of articles and posts are being written on how to take the perfect selfie or how Kim Kardashian takes her perfect butt selfie (belfie, weird!). There are numerous videos on teaching people on how to take selfies and so on and so forth. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have an instructional booked titled ‘Selfie for Dummies’, soon. Continue Reading..

Kunal Kamath Sarpal
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Kunal Kamath Sarpal