President for RSS think tank meet

India Foundation, the RSS-aligned think tank that has BJP general secretary Ram Madhav as its spearhead, is set to elevate its profile through a counter-terrorism conference beginning tomorrow in Jaipur.

By Radhika Ramaseshan
  • Published 2.02.16
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New Delhi, Feb. 1: India Foundation, the RSS-aligned think tank that has BJP general secretary Ram Madhav as its spearhead, is set to elevate its profile through a counter-terrorism conference beginning tomorrow in Jaipur.

President Pranab Mukherjee will inaugurate the two-day convention that has a galaxy of speakers ranging from the chief executive of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah, the Asia and Pacific affairs minister of Iran, Ibrahim Rahimpour, to Malaysia's deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid bin Hamidi and Bangladesh state minister for foreign affairs Mohammad Shahriar Alam.

Back home, foreign secretary S. Jaishankar and national security adviser Ajit Doval are slated to attend, as are Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Manohar Parrikar.

Foundation director Alok Bansal, a member of the convention's organising committee and a former navy captain, explained the difference between this year's conference and the previous year's that was the outfit's first. "The first one was broad-based and largely pegged on Mumbai and 26/11. This year's meet will focus on global terror outfits and how things are evolving on the Islamic State and al Qaida fronts."

Asked why the participation was more high-powered than the preceding year's, when the international presence was marked by academics and security specialists, Bansal said: "India is one country where foreign nationals are not afraid to speak their minds out. It is difficult to speak on a western platform. Rightly or wrongly, terror-related conflicts and issues are perceived in a different way in the West."

Sessions at the conference will cover the entire ambit of global terror, including its religious and theological underpinnings, the Caliphate and al Qaida, regional and international responses to global terror and its impact on South Asia.

Prafulla Ketkar, also an organising committee member and the editor of RSS-affiliated weekly Organiser, countered an ongoing Twitter campaign against the conference's "pro-Sangh bias".

"People tried to run it down, alleging that we were promoting the RSS's agenda on terrorism. That's not the idea. The principal idea is to flag South Asia, and not just India's, capabilities and context in handling terrorism because in the international context, this is a neglected region. The IS will be the main talking point but in that framework, the US, Middle East and South and Southeast Asia will share their experiences," Ketkar said.

"The terror outfits have embarked on a strategy of changing names, routes and allegiances. Some that used to be loyal to al Qaida are shifting to the IS. India has been concerned mainly with cross-border terrorism. Our competence and infrastructure are geared to tackling this. Now we have to reckon with a situation that Afghanistan has lived with for sometime, where non-state actors become state actors. We need to accordingly tweak our strategies," Ketkar added.

The conference has invited a representative from the special investigation teams some states have set up to look at Maoist-inspired violence and local links to the IS.