Who will kill the ISIS story?

Finally it unfolds. We have the most powerful nations in the world confronting ISIS in what seems to be the final battle for the terror group. What US, Russia, Iran, France and others also need to understand that eliminating Baghdadi or for that matter uprooting ISIS will not be the end of it.

This is the Age of Conversations, of Information, of pervasive media and ISIS did tell a powerful story. ISIS inspired many around the world with its ideology, myth making and ability to challenge the high and the mighty. ISIS did amazing work with social media, peppering the web with its online propaganda - these are archived, available and accessible to all. These will remain and continue do so and it's time the web is purged of such content.

"Caesar dead is more powerful than Caesar alive" - as long as the legend and myth of ISIS remains the terror group will continue to be alive. Long before ISIS emerged, this blog highlighted the possibility of emergence of a militant religious power in the Middle East and it did turn out to be true, despite the Arab Spring and all progressive movements. It did because the story remained and the narrative continued to inspire.

Suggestions/Critiques welcome.

- Madhur


Avantha International Fellowship for international students to engage with India

AnantaCentre, continuing in its endeavor to add value to society through participatory leadership, has announced the Ananta Centre – Avantha International Fellowship 2015 for International students to engage with India.
This unique fellowship will continue as an innovation lab for knowledge sharing and capacity building for international students during summer 2015.

The four selected fellows will be placed in Ananta Centre’s New Delhi office over a period of two months in the timeframe of 15 June – 15 October, 2015 (dates are flexible to accommodate international university schedule) and exposed to India’s policy landscape. The fundamental aim is to foster prospective leaders and increase their responsiveness to national and international issues facing India.

If you are interested please get in touch with Ramit Grover, Director, at Ananta Centre :ramit.grover@anantacentre.in or +91-11-40733310.


The politics of perception in Charlie Hebdo

As world media discusses and debates the impact of Charlie Hebdo massacre on freedom of expression, Noam Chomsky, offers, as always, a point of view that is unique. 

Chomky brings to our attention a serious concern with regards to the dominant media narrative on the Charlie Hebdo incident. Speaking on the commentary that followed, Chomsky writes,
“The crimes also elicited a flood of commentary, inquiring into the roots of these shocking assaults in Islamic culture and exploring ways to counter the murderous wave of Islamic terrorism without sacrificing our values. The New York Times described the assault as a "clash of civilizations," 
Chomsky juxtaposes this against media commentary that followed recent act of violence across the world such as:

All the above incidents were marked by violence against civilians, public institutions, journalists but never quite qualified to feature in narratives of attacks against freedom of expression, freedom itself, or even narratives of outrage and concern on a scale similar to reactions received by the Charlie Hebdo incident. 

It's only sensible to wonder why.

In the politics of narrative and perception, Chomsky’s position is significant. The “media power structure” of our world is no different and is the same as the political power structure in international politics. We don’t often realize this, but as stories compete, some voices tend to get lost or are never expressed.

Chomsky states,
“These few examples illustrate a very general principle that is observed with impressive dedication and consistency: The more we can blame some crimes on enemies, the greater the outrage; the greater our responsibility for crimes -- and hence the more we can do to end them -- the less the concern, tending to oblivion or even denial.
This awareness surprisingly resulted in some Middle Eastern states like Qatar to take the initiative and establish their own international media outlets (Eg. Al Jazeera). 

However Middle East’s media landscape, as I experienced in the last couple of years, is completely dominated by experienced professionals from the West or from Asia, who come with great knowledge, but not necessarily always with a “contextual perspective” that is required to tell a story of the “other”. 

Coupled with controls over free media in the entire region, difficult questions remain unasked; indigenous experiences remain hidden and the introspection that is required to understand “why is it happening to us” never happens. 

Instead, people are told what is wrong with them, often by groups who have no context. The tradition of the story is alien.

As Chomsky states,
Contrary to the eloquent pronouncements, it is not the case that "Terrorism is terrorism. There's no two ways about it." There definitely are two ways about it: theirs versus ours. And not just terrorism. 
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