Nov 28, 2008

India - Kalam,IIM-A study terrorist psyche

Chitra Unnithan & Vinay Umarji

Even as the country is scurrying to find ways to tackle terrorism, a group of four students from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, (IIM-A) have conducted a study on the biggest threat that is plaguing the country, under the guidance of former president APJ Abdul Kalam. The study aims at understanding the psyche of terrorists by analysing factors that lead to the formation of a terrorist.

The three-month study, conducted by Srijan Pal Singh, Nishtha Aggarwal, Ritesh Pase and Pinaki Ranjan under the Grass Root Innovations Technology (GRIT) course conducted by APJ Abdul Kalam, focuses on how to build a terror-free and safe society. Studying empirical data from existing literature, speaking to the young individually and collectively the students have suggested various ways to tackle terrorism effectively. The causes and the types of terrorism were use used as a reference point.

“Nobody is a born terrorist. With the study, we have tried to understand, for instance, why an Indian becomes an anti-Indian. While speaking to the youth across various communities, we realised that alienation from the society is the biggest factor that contributes to terrorism. Oppression and injustice also act as triggers for terrorism,” says Srijan Pal Singh, one of the students who conducted the study.

The students have suggested two levels at which terrorism can be tackled. The first, which looks at existing terrorism, suggests stricter laws. “There are completely brainwashed terrorists who need to be tackled with stricter laws through a responsible and dedicated system. Better intelligence sharing across states besides a thorough investigative agency combined with international collaboration will ensure that terrorism is handled well. The second and more important level focuses on nipping terrorism in the bud by providing better value system through education. Our education system is devoid of a good value system and needs to make subjects such as moral sciences compulsory, besides involving the students in social and community service. There are huge barriers between communities and the community service will enhance the aspect of learning and respecting each other better,” says Singh.

The study suggests various other ways to stem terrorism before it develops in other ways. Apolitical institutes like the IIMs can be used to act as an interface between the police and society to create better faith within the system. The study also suggests inviting guest speakers to schools and colleges to talk about diverse religions and involve media to spread the message that terrorism should not be associated with religion as it is a separate condemnable religion in itself.

“The most effective way to ensure that terrorism is eradicated is to use biometric technology to create a universal citizen identification system, about which Kalam has been talking about since a long time. The system, which works by issuing cards on the basis of fingerprints of people is the need of the hour. The card, which can be shared across applications like driving license, voter ID, public distribution or even rural banking, cannot be faked as the fingerprints are unique. Besides terrorism, the government can also tackle other major problems like illegal immigration with this system,” adds Singh.
* Alienation,* Oppression,* Injustice
* Stop the blame game. Build a dedicated and responsible intelligence sharing system across states
* Collaborate with international agencies as terrorism is a global problem
* Role of media should be to condemn the act of terrorism and not associate it with any religion
* Nip terrorism in the bud by ensuring a proper value system through better education
* Create a better investigative agency with stricter laws
* Involve academia to act as repositories of communication between police and society
* Diversity needs to be accentuated by discussing different religions

The students, along with Dr Kalam are all set to publish the study and suggestions in a book to be distributed to politicians, planning commission and other authority, besides putting it up on their website.

“The research is part of one of the pillars under the GRIT course being taken up by Kalam. The results of the research will be sent to the defence and other ministries. The onus will then be on the government. If they find it worthy, they may work on the features suggested in the research. As an institute, we are fully supporting the students. It is not just in our academic interest to promote this research, but we need to make sure the well-being of the society. We will see that their (students’) efforts are pushed through the right channels,” said Anil Gupta, faculty member at IIM-A.