The jihad and jannat that the Islamic State (IS) promises continues to draw fighters from across the world. Even though diminished from its all-conquering days of June 2014 when it overran northern Iraq and Syria because of airstrikes by Americans, and a dogged resistance by the Kurds at the Syria-Iraq border, IS remains a finely honed propaganda force. On May 20, the HIMS media agency, an affiliate of ISIS, released a 22-minute video aimed at Indian Muslims. The video, apart from after predictable slights to Indian secularism, contains rousing testimonials of the IS by at least three Indians. One of them is Aman Tandel, among the four young men from Kalyan who joined the terrorist organisation in May 2014. Tandel, who is not a part of the IS fighting force, makes his first public appearance since he left India and says that if he returns it will be with a sword.

One of Tandel’s companions in the trip to the IS was Areeb Majeed, a man in judicial custody since November 2014.

Unlike Tandel, Majeed enlisted for the suicide bombing corps, and tried his best to kill himself many times, failing in every one of them. Frustrated, and disillusioned by the IS he returned to India.

Staff reporter Alia Allana, who has been tracking the case since 2014, writes the cover story (“The war he saw”) this month. Areeb served IS during its most important victories and saw action at multiple places. His incredible story, pieced through sources in India, Iraq and Syria among others, is in sharp contrast to the grandiose narratives of IS propaganda.

The world of start-ups is a feverish mirage of dream and reality, a constant tension between vision and execution. We live in the time of the start-up unicorn, those mythical beasts with billion dollar valuations that are yet to turn in any real profit. Their founders are the new-age prophets, universally hailed role models of the youth. That is until the companies go belly up.  For every successful founder, there are hordes of those who have crashed and burned. Govind Krishnan V. tells the start-up story (“Inside the shark tank of online ventures”) from the side of those who couldn’t make it. Those who tripped on tightrope that connects dream and reality.

Do not miss the interview with Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, who heads the Indian Council of Medical Research and is responsible for finding way to deal with our gravest public health challenges.

Saurav Kumar
saurav@fountainink.in

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