ISIS hasn’t made much of a dent on India but online propaganda is a source of worry, says a new book

Journalist Stanly Johny notes that fewer than 100 Indians have left the country to join the fundamentalist organisation.

Like the families in Kasaragod who left the country for the Caliphate, those who turn to alleged terror modules are also influenced by ISIS’s online propaganda. All Muslim organisations in the country, be it Salafi, Wahhabi or Berelvi or traditional Sunni, have strongly opposed ISIS’s violence and ideology. No madrasa is giving pro-ISIS sermons. Still, if Indians are attracted towards ISIS, it shows the power of the group’s online propaganda. ISIS has maximised its reach across the world by using various online platforms. ISIS sympathisers are present in encrypted apps as well as other social networks. They build the brand image of the Caliphate, contact potential recruits through the apps and then work on them. Even instructions to carry out attacks are given through social networks.

According to a 2015 report, ISIS was releasing an average of 38.2 unique propaganda events a day from all corners of the Caliphate, which is “an exceptionally sophisticated information operation campaign, the success of which lies in the twin pillars of quantity and quality.”

The production of high quality propaganda videos and other propaganda productions took a hit when ISIS came under attack in Syria and Iraq and its territories kept shrinking, but its members and sympathisers continued to spread the message of the Caliphate on online platforms.

This strategy has worked well for ISIS. The group managed to attract the highest number of foreign fighters to its core. The Kerala examples also underscore this point. Family members and co-workers of the arrested agreed that they were involved in ISIS-related online groups and discussions. Haris Ali, younger brother of Abu Basheer who hails from Coimbatore, said his brother was a member of a Facebook group and a Telegram channel that discussed ISIS-related issues. KH Nazer, State secretary of the Popular Front of India (PFI), a hard-line Muslim organisation, told me about the “dangerous propaganda groups and pages on social media” existing in Malayalam. One of the arrested youth from Kanakamala, the 30-year-old Safwan, was a member of the PFI and working as a graphic designer at Thejas, the Malayalam newspaper run by the organisation. “We expelled Safwan from the PFI after the arrest. There are concerns in the organisation that he was involved in some social media discussions on ISIS. We find it a breach of organisational discipline,” Nazer said.

Though the government and the social networking companies have repeatedly said that they are cracking down on ISIS-linked content, it is not easy to remove every tweet and post ISIS members and sympathisers leave, particularly in regional languages. For example, there are a number of Facebook pages and accounts that propagate the ISIS’s messages in Malayalam. One of such Facebook pages is called Ashabul Haqq. One article on the page says it is obligatory for Muslims to go to the “Caliphate”. Another one slams Muslim organisations in Kerala for not taking up arms and fighting the “opponents of true religion”. Yet another post, titled “Shed a kafir’s blood”, says “unless there’s no peace agreement with Muslims, a kafir’s (non-Muslim) life and property won’t be protected”. Yunus Saleem, Amir Ali, Abdullah Ibn Abdullah are some others on Facebook with accounts that have declared loyalty to Baghdadi and spread ISIS propaganda in Malayalam.

Besides, ISIS has also issued threats against India via Telegram. In March 2017, after Mohammad Saifullah, a suspected operative of ISIS-Khorasan was killed in an encounter in Lucknow, Al Hindi, a jihadist channel on the Telegram, exhorted Muslims to carry out attacks in India. “Brother Saifullah, From India, encountered by (Anti-Terrorist squad UP), May Allah accept this soldier of Khilafah from Land of shirk ...” said one post on the channel, according to SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based private intelligence company that monitors terror activities. “Muwahideen [monotheists] of India. Kill them, stab them, hit them with car, use guns, weapons anything you have. And make them weak, shed their (mushrik, murtdad) blood like water...and make your way easier to jannat...” read another post. Ahwaal Ummat Media Center, another pro-ISIS media platform, posted a graphic on March 14 depicting the Taj Mahal as a possible target. The graphic features a militant in combat fatigues armed with a rifle and a rocket-propelled grenade standing near the 17th century monument in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Another image of the Taj Mahal is featured with the words “New target” attached to it.

In the three years of its existence, ISIS has made only little inroads into India. Compared to Western countries from where hundreds of Muslims have travelled to ISIS territories, mainly Syria, only less than 100 Indians are believed to have left the country.

According to a study by Brookings India, 142 Indian citizens have been confirmed to have affiliated with ISIS. Of this, many have been arrested and several others were made to go through deradicalisation programmes. But still it is a matter of concern that the group is attracting Indian citizens. The number has also steadily grown over the years. If only one individual was confirmed to have affiliated with the group in 2013 – before the Caliphate was declared – the numbers grew to six in 2014, 35 in 2015 and 75 in 2016. In the first four months of 2017, 25 people have been identified.

It is unlikely that ISIS will have a direct presence in India. Even after its slain Khorasan chief’s declaration of support for jihad in Kashmir, ISIS failed to make any inroad in Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim majority state. But it will keep trying to attract young Muslims in India into its fold. This poses a security threat, given that ISIS has carried out lone-wolf as well as enabled attacks in several places outside its Caliphate. Western countries have even seen ISIS-inspired attacks – which means that the group does not even have to direct or enable an assault, but only issue a general instruction for sympathisers to take up arms and target civilians. And ISIS literature has clearly placed the “cow-worshipping Hindus” of India on its enemy list. In the southern city of Hyderabad, ISIS’s virtual plotters managed to create a cell and provide it weapons to carry out attacks in India, according to the NIA. Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani, an engineer from the city who got attracted to ISIS literature while working in Saudi Arabia and later got in touch with Abu Issa al-Amriki, one of the group’s most influential cyber recruiters, told his interrogators that his initial plan was to travel to Syria. But when that became difficult, his handlers asked him to work for ISIS in India. According to their instruction he once travelled to Nanded in Maharashtra where he found a bag hanging from a tree near the Railway Division Office. When they opened the bag, they found two guns and ammunition.

Though this attack was thwarted after Yazdani’s arrest in June 2016, the incident suggests how ISIS operates in a country with strict gun laws and where it has practically no organisational reach.

The southern states, which are economically and socially advanced compared to their northern counterparts, appear to be high on ISIS recruiters’ target. Of the 142 ISIS affiliates identified by Brookings, 37 are from Kerala, “21 from Telangana, 19 from Maharashtra, 16 from Karnataka, 15 from Uttar Pradesh, six from Madhya Pradesh, five from Tamil Nadu, four from Gujarat, three each from Uttarakhand and Bengal, two from Jammu & Kashmir, and one each from Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi and Rajasthan.” Kerala, the most-affected, is a case in point, given the State’s connectivity with the Middle East and the influence of Salafi Islam. Kerala may not have a Salafi-Jihadist tradition, but the evolution of the State’s reformist Salafi movements into Wahhabi organisations, aided and abetted by Gulf Salafism, makes it easier for Salafi-Jihadists to tap into its youth.

Excerpted with permission from The ISIS Caliphate: From Syria To The Doorsteps Of India, Stanly Johny, Bloomsbury.

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The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.


The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the marketing team and not by the editorial staff.