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ISIS looks at Bangladesh as a platform to capture India and Myanmar

ISIS has expressed several times that Hindu India is at its radar for attack and conversion

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ISIS looks at Bangladesh as a launching pad to attack India.

April 15, 2016: The Islamic State (IS or ISIS) militant group says it wants to use Bangladesh as a launching pad to gain a foothold in neighboring Hindu-majority India and Buddhist-dominated Myanmar.

The plan was revealed by the alleged chief of ISIS in Bangladesh, named as Sheikh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, in an interview with the IS mouthpiece magazine, Dabiq.

Bangladesh

It was immediately dismissed by Bangladesh’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, who insisted that IS has no presence in his country and that the South Asian nation would never allow IS to use it as a base to expand its influence in the region.

The IS had claimed responsibility for a series of killings and attacks of bloggers, writers, foreigners and non-Sunni Muslim minorities.

Khan said however that some local militants had been using the “IS brand to add value to their names.”

‘Stepping-Stone’

In his interview, al-Hanif said that Bangladesh was “an important region” for the IS and its “global jihad” due to its “strategic geographic position.”

“[Bangladesh] is located on the eastern side of India, whereas the [Pakistan-Afghanistan region] is located on its western side,” he noted.

He said an ISIS base in Bangladesh “will facilitate performing guerrilla attacks inside India simultaneously from both sides.”

“Also, jihad in [Bangladesh] is a stepping-stone for jihad in Burma [Myanmar].”

Commenting on the report, Minister Khan said Bangladesh “will in no way allow the people with alien ideology [to] develop bases here to attack other countries; that will not happen.”

“I want to say unambiguously that IS has no presence in Bangladesh,” he told reporters. “May be a handful of [local] people may subscribe to the IS views.”

Bangladesh media gave wide coverage of al-Hanif’s interview.

This is second time the IS magazine featured the group’s strategy in Bangladesh. Late last year, it published a five-page report detailing its expansion plan in the Muslim-majority nation.

“This time an elaborate plan about Bangladesh has been written; this is significant,” Syed Mahfuzul Haque Marzan, a teacher of criminology at Dhaka University, told BenarNews.

The IS threat, he warned, should not be taken “lightly in any way,” calling for “more in-depth investigation.”

A former senior Bangladesh military officer, Air Commander Ishfaq Elahi Chowdhury, said IS would not be able to use the country as a staging post against India and Myanmar, citing close counterterrorism cooperation among the countries.

‘Fertile Ground’

Both IS and the terror group Al-Qaeda are competing for expansion in Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million Muslims, according to Singapore-based counterterrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna.

“IS and Al-Qaeda leaders consider Bangladesh as a fertile ground for recruitment,” said Gunaratna, a BenarNews columnist who heads the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

“Although Bangladesh has been uncompromising in its approach to fight both IS and al Qaeda, these two groups have developed a presence on Bangladesh soil. They have recently killed both Bangladeshis and foreigners.”

Indian officials were not immediately available for comment on the IS plan.

But a former Indian army officer and defense analyst, Major General Satbir Singh, told BenarNews that the government should devise “a proper defense policy with regards to terror organizations like the ISIS.”

“We need to have a secured security environment for achieving peaceful development and national integration. That environment can be achieved only if we have good, actionable intelligence and coordinated response of all security agencies together,” he said.

Akash Vashishtha in New Delhi contributed to this report. (BenarNews)

 

  • Pragya Jha

    Bangladesh and India would jointly fight against terrorism.

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To Catch Up With China, India Needs To Focus on Improving Its Educational Outcomes

China reached a 100 percent gross enrollment rate (GER) in its primary education in 1985, whereas, India attained that level only in 2000.

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Children learning in a classroom, pixabay

By Amit Kapoor

Both China and India started building their national education systems under comparable conditions in the late 1940s. Different policies and historical circumstances have, however, led them to different educational outcomes, with China outperforming India not just in terms of its percentage of literate population and enrollment rates at all levels of education, but also in terms of number of world-class institutions in higher education, and greater research output.

The roots of China’s successful education system date back to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which unintentionally expanded access to the primary education through democratising the schooling system, which was previously elitist in character, thus addressing the problem of mass illiteracy.

In contrast, India continued to focus on its higher education system since independence and only realised the importance of basic education in 1986, keeping it behind China and many other countries in Asia in educational development. In terms of enrollment, China reached a 100 percent gross enrollment rate (GER) in its primary education in 1985, whereas, India attained that level only in 2000.

In terms of secondary school enrollment, India and China both started at the similar rates in 1985, with about 40 percent of their population enrolled in secondary schools. However, due to a wider base of primary school students, the rate of increase in China has been much faster than in India, with 99 percent secondary enrollment rate in China and 79 percent in India in 2017.

Happy kids in School Uniform
China reached a 100 percent gross enrollment rate (GER) in its primary education in 1985, whereas, India attained that level only in 2000.

India is closing in on the Chinese rate in terms of access to education, but on the literacy level front, there is a huge gap in the percentage of literate populations in the two countries. In the age group of 15-24 years, India scores 104th rank on literacy and numeracy indicator, compared to China’s 40th rank.

The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which assesses after every three years the domain knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics, science and finance, revealed that students in China performed above the OECD average in 2015. Moreover, one in four students in China are top performers in mathematics, having an ability to formulate complex situations mathematically. Further, China outperforms all the other participating countries in financial literacy, by having a high ability to analyse complex finance products. For India, the comparable data is not available as it was not a participating country in PISA 2015.

However, in India, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2017 provides data for rural youth, aged 14-18, with respect to their abilities to lead productive lives as adults. According to this survey, only about half of the 14-year-old children in the sample could read English sentences, and more than half of the students surveyed could not do basic arithmetic operations, like division. For basic financial calculations, such as managing a budget or making a purchase decision, less than two-thirds could do the correct calculations.

India
Schools in India

With regard to the higher education system, both India and China dominate the number of tertiary degree holders because of their large population size, but when it comes to the percentage of the population holding tertiary degrees, only about 10 per cent and 8 per cent of the population possess university degrees in China and India, respectively. By contrast, in Japan, almost 50 per cent of the population holds a tertiary degree, and in the United States, 31 per cent of the population hold a tertiary degree.

In terms of the international recognition of universities, the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking for 2019 places seven of the China’s universities in the top 200, compared to none for India. The global university rankings, which are based on various performance metrices, pertaining to teaching, research, citations, international outlook and industrial income, shows progress for several of China’s low-ranked universities, largely driven by improvements in its citations.

In fact, the Tsinghua University has overtaken the National University of Singapore (NUS) to become the best university in Asia due to improvements in its citations, institutional income and increased share of international staff, students and co-authored publications.

While India has progressed in terms of massification of education, there is still a lot which needs to be done when it comes to catching up with the China’s educational outcomes. China’s early start in strengthening its primary and secondary education systems has given it an edge over India in terms of higher education. Moreover, Chinese government strategies are designed in line with the criterion used in major world university rankings, especially emphasis is on the two factors which weigh heavily in the rankings — publications and international students.

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The relentless publications drive, which is very evident in China, is weak in India and has led to a growing gap in the number of publications contributed by the two countries. Further, China enrolled about 292,611 foreign students in 2011 from 194 countries, while India currently only has 46,144 foreign students enrolled in its higher education institutions, coming from 166 countries. The large number of international enrollments in China is a reflection of its state policies granting high scholarships to foreign students.

To catch up with China, India needs to lay emphasis on improving its educational outcomes. Massification drive for education has helped India raise its student enrollments, but a lot needs to be done when it comes to global recognition for its universities. Further, it needs to focus on building the foundation skills which are acquired by students at the school age, poor fundamental skills flow through the student life, affecting adversely the quality of education system. (IANS)