By Apoorvah Sankaran

Panelists disentangle the motivations causing youth to gravitate toward organizations like ISIS

Panelists disentangle the motivations causing youth to gravitate toward organizations like ISIS

The session opened with the pertinent issue in this day and age, one that the country hasn’t really prepared itself for and did not foresee.

Hormis Tharakan’s opening speech on why we hear about a number of Indian youngsters tending towards terrorism and joining ISIS threw light on the problem. “We’re worried more about ISIS today because Indian youth find it attractive and the implications for India are huge as a result of this movement,” says Tharakan.

It seems to be a worldwide trend, in fact. Tharakan implored that it’s important to understand the motivation of these youngsters and why the draw exists. At the onset, one must understand the cause of the growing Islamic extremist movement in India. Across the board, when questioned, extremists cite the Babri Masjid and the post Godra riots as having significant affect on them.

But are there other, deeper reasons that harbor such a level of discontent with how a society is operating that violence becomes the sole option?

Shashi Warrier pointed to many fiction writers’ attempts to explain the gravitation of youth toward extremism and organizations like ISIS. The Reluctant Fundamentalist, is one such example.

The Babri Masjid incident and Godra riots were well publicized. To a certain degree, the impact of these events was experienced by the masses. So, why is it that only a minority take up arms? Should we ask why the majority does not take up arms?

“We can’t fight fire with fire to eliminate it completely. And the alternative steps focus on developing areas surrounding areas under terrorist control,” Warrier suggests. The journalist also spoke about what he found most scary about ISIS – that people might import what ISIS is doing in Iraq. That’s primary reason why we should watch out for them and expand our view toward the global dimension of their growth. Fiction writing, offering greater color and depth than shorter journalistic pieces might be a better way to seek an understanding of where these issues arise so we can create solutions to eradicate the root issue.

Aditya Sondhi, however, was more concerned about how this spark of fire would find its way to Pakistan and thereby prove a more direct threat to India in more ways than one.

“Global terror is very much at our doorstep. What probably makes ISIS a little more attractive now is how sophisticated it is and how quickly it has regrouped,” he acknowledged.

ISIS made an especially strong, albeit detestable impression at a global level with the grotesque and merciless assassination of high profile professionals. The fact that people providing real services to their brethren were not spared points to a deeper alienation and hyper politicization of empire-building. One should carefully examine the spread of their influence and observe that certain interests would support the suppression but not complete annihilation of such organizations. Sondhi points to Iran as one such example as ISIS acts as a check on Shia power.

By the end of the session there was general agreement that the need of the hour is to arrive at real reasons for the motivation for terrorism and related activities. After all, we can’t afford to be a homeland of grievances with separatist movements and insurgency continuing for decades. India can live only as a collective of many identities.