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November 2, 2016: For the first time the U.S. government is publicly warning of the possibility of terrorist attacks in India carried out by the Islamic State group.
A brief security message for U.S. citizens in India, issued Tuesday evening at the embassy in New Delhi, calls on Americans to “maintain a high level of vigilance and increase their security awareness,” especially at religious sites, markets and festival venues.
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Previous security advisories issued by the embassy have mentioned Islamic extremist groups, such as Indian Mujahideen (IM) and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, but not Islamic State.
The fresh security advisory could be related to recent IS arrests in India, said Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Lisa Curtis, noting last month’s discovery of an Islamic State cell in Kerala that allegedly was plotting attacks during the Diwali holiday season, which began Sunday and runs through Thursday.
“These arrests may have led to additional information about the ISIS terror threat in India,” Curtis, a former CIA analyst who was also a diplomat in U.S. embassies in India and Pakistan, told VOA. ISIS is an acronym for Islamic State.
“I have no doubt there are some grassroots capability [of IS in India], at the very least,” said Fred Burton, chief security officer for the private strategic intelligence firm Stratfor.
In other South Asian nations, such as Bangladesh and Pakistan, IS has successfully tapped into local Islamist networks.
“ISIS operators may be trying to employ the same tactic in India by linking up with groups like the Indian Mujahideen, which was behind a series of attacks several years ago,” Curtis said. “ISIS released a recruiting video in May showing Indian Muslims [including two IM members] calling on Indian Muslims to avenge … purported injustices in Kashmir.”
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Muslim minority community
The relatively few extremists in India’s substantial Muslim minority community are not perceived as having interest in joining IS, according to analysts. It has been reported that two or three dozen members of IM and others groups, however, traveled from India to Syria and Iraq to fight with IS, but are not believed to have sworn allegiance to the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
India traditionally has been more vulnerable to terror cells from Bangladesh and Pakistan carrying out attacks on its soil.
“Any kind of chatter can drive an alert” by a risk-averse State Department, Burton told VOA.
As has been the case for IS-claimed attacks in other parts of the world, there is “no need for elaborate infrastructure or training for a self-inspired small group or individual to do an ‘official’ Islamic State attack. Just at minimum a computer for inspiration, weaponry [including a machete or a vehicle],” added Burton, a former deputy chief of counterterrorism of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.
A branch of Islamic State said to be active in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan has “an interest in galvanizing individuals to attack in India,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, an analyst at George Washington University’s Program on Extremism.
Illinois State University’s Ali Riaz, who teaches South Asian politics and political Islam, says Indian militants may be connected with terrorist groups in Bangladesh who have affiliated themselves with IS.
“Most of the weapons used in the recent Dhaka attack in July were modified in India before they were transported to Bangladesh,” Riaz told VOA.
While the extremist group’s messaging about India primarily has focused on the disputed Kashmir region and avenging attacks against Muslims in India, the group’s magazine also has carried threats against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and condemned India for being a majority country of Hindus, a religion it has characterized as “cow-worshipping pagans.”
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Islam is India’s second-largest religion, with Muslims comprising about 15 percent of the total population of more than 1.2 billion people.
If other countries follow Washington’s lead and issue similar warnings about a possible IS attack, it may have ramifications for India’s travel and tourism sector, according to the Economic Times, a Mumbai-based daily newspaper.
In recent years, foreign tourism has become a significant part of India’s economy, contributing about $20 billion annually in foreign exchange earnings and matching the much-touted information technology sector. (VOA)
Super model and actress Hailey Bieber said she is lucky to have a husband like Justin Bieber, refuting rumours of the ace singer not treating her properly. Hailey was speaking at singer Demi Lovato's podcast '4D With Demi Lovato', dailymail.co.uk reported.
Talking about her popstar husband and rumours around their marriage, Hailey said: "I think one of the biggest things is you have to know what the truth is behind everything. You know, there's so many narratives that float around about me, about him, about us together." She addressed the rumours point blank as she said: "There's one big fat narrative that goes around that's like, 'Justin is not nice to her, and that he mistreats her', and I'm just like, it's so far from the truth, and it's the complete and utter opposite."
Hailey went on to set the record straight about Justin, who she married in 2018. She said: "I really am lucky to say I'm with someone who is extremely respectful of me, who makes me feel special every single day. So when I see the opposite of that, I'm just like, 'Huh?' And everybody around who knows us personally would say the same thing." (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Hailey Bieber, Justin Bieber, husband, respectful, truth, married
Among the Tamil epics written during the Sangam age, only a few survived to this day. Manimegalai is one such. It is written as a sequel to the Sillapadikaram, taking the story forward of Kovalan and Madhavi's daughter, Manimegalai. The Sillapadikaram is about the injustice of the Madurai kingdom in the execution of Kovalan, which turned Kannagi, his wife into a goddess seeking vengeance for her husband's death. Kovalan, before his death, has an affair with a court dancer, Madhavi, and his daughter, Manimegalai, is said to begin a different tradition among the Tamils.
The epic, written by Sattanar, introduces Buddhism to Dravidian culture, something that has been alien to them for years. Manimegalai is the protagonist, who flees constantly from the pursuit of Chola prince Udhayakumara, and tries to lead an ascetic life. Throughout the plot, Buddhist tenets are used to avoid the culmination of a love-story. Manimegalai is believed to be the anti-love story sequel to the Sillapadikaram.
A complete work of Tamil epic written by hand on leaves Image source: wikimedia commons
The Sillapadikaram was written by a Jain monk, Illango Adigal, and Sattanar, uses the sequel to question Jainism. It is almost a political battle between two new religions competing for a place in a predominantly Hindu society. Parts of Manimegalai even go to the extent of opening ridiculing Jain practices and beliefs.
Critics of Tamil literature have stated that while the Tamil epics have great poetic significance, they are inferior to other world epics when it comes to clearly portraying religious affiliations. In fact, they refer to the newer religions with an infant's perspective. Some scholars have found that Sillapadikaram has more ethical substance than its sequel, but in and of itself, despite being written by a Jain monk, reads like Hindu poetry (Subhramanya Aiyar, 1906).
Keywords: Manimegalai, Sillapadikaram, Tamil Epic, Sattanar, Ilango Adigal, Chola kingdom, Sangam Age, Buddhism
The Covid-19 pandemic could act as an inflection point to shift India's growth model from being consumption driven to investments-led. In its Ecoscope report, Motilal Oswal Financial Services, said: "With Covid-19 hurting India's 'Household' (HH) and 'Government' sectors adversely, the continuity of strong consumption growth is in question."
"On the contrary, with listed companies' financial positions improving and an uptick in household investments in the Real Estate sector (called physical savings), the narrative of investment-led recovery is gaining momentum." The report prescribed that various economic participants - households, governments, listed companies, and unlisted corporates -- to increase their fixed asset investments in the immediate future based on their financial position.
The Covid-19 pandemic could act as an inflection point to shift India's growth model from being consumption driven to investments-led. | Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash
At present, the listed and unlisted corporate sector accounts for only about half of total investments in India. The 'HH' sector including unincorporated enterprises accounts for 35-40 per cent in India's investments, while the remaining 12-13 per cent is contributed by centre and states governments. Besides, the report cited that demand environment is expected to remain subdued due to weak financial position of 'HH' and government sector.
"Despite household investments picking up strongly in 2HFY21, given that Indian households bore the maximum brunt of Covid-led losses in CY20 (and CY21), we believe household spending would remain subdued over the next few years." It further pointed out that unless 'HH', 'Unlisted Corporate', and government sectors can improve their financial positions -- leading to a demand uptick -- a strong revival in investments seems challenging. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: India, covid, pandemic, growth, household, government, investment