Madhav Das Nalapat

Madhav Das Nalapat
UNESCO Peace Chair and  Director of the Geopolitics and International Relations Department
Madhav Das Nalapat (also known as M D Nalapat) holds the UNESCO Peace Chair and is Director of the Geopolitics and International Relations Department at Manipal University, an international private university headquartered in Southern India. The former Coordinating Editor of the Times of India, Prof. Nalapat writes extensively on security, policy and international affairs, and is a columnist for the Sunday Guardian and the Pakistan Observer. Nalapat has no formal role in the Indian government, although he influences policy at the highest levels.
Before joining the Times of India in 1989, Nalapat was Editor of the Mathrubhumi, a Malayalam-language newspaper that had a daily circulation in excess of 500,000 when he left. Previous to becoming the editor in 1984, Nalapat had been Editorial Director of the Mathrubhumi Group of publications, and previous to that (from 1978), Executive Director of the newspaper company. He continued on the Board of Directors throughout his tenure in the company.
M. D. Nalapat began his academic career as fellow of the Centre for Political Research in 1974. Four years later he moved to business management, taking over as executive director of the Mathrubhumi Printing and Publishing Company Limited, in which capacity he implemented the Thiruvananthapuram edition project in the record time of twenty-seven months. In 1984 he switched to the editorial side, taking over as editor of the Mathrubhumi Daily and the Mathrubhumi Illustrated Weekly. ABC figures will show the exponential growth of circulation during his period (1984–88). As editor, he gave prominence to the war against corruption and against social evils such as discrimination against women and the socially disadvantaged.
In 1989 he shifted from Malayalam to English-language journalism, becoming the resident editor Times of India at Bangalore. Once again, circulation and credibility surged after the edition broke free of the hidden censorship of the political class. In 1994 he moved to Delhi as resident editor of the Times of India. It was that year that the “Old Lady of Bori Bunder” finally abandoned its lock-step fealty to British English and began speaking in the idiom of what is well on the way to becoming the country with the largest English speaking population in the world. He also worked as Chief of News Bureau in 1995-1997, before becoming contributing editor in end-1998 to concentrate on writing. In these capacities, he developed his ideas on secular nationalism and its use in nation-building. The next year, he merged journalism with academics, becoming India's first professor of geopolitics at Manipal University and a distinguished fellow of the University of Georgia. In the past, he has served on the academic councils of Thiruvananthapuram Calicut and Bangalore universities.
He has contributed to leading publications throughout the world and has written six books, including INDUTVA whose central thesis is that every Indian is a synthesis of Vedic, Moghul and Western cultural DNA and religious exclusivism goes against such an ethos of fusion.
Apart from his work, he has played a key role in the literacy movement in Kerala, as the first honorary coordinator of the Kerala Association for Non-formal Education and Development. He was also the honorary secretary of the Kerala Children’s Film Society, which screens educational films for children.
He has also been active in environmental issues as honorary secretary of the Kerala Forestry Board, besides other NGOs. He has been active in actions designed to ensure that socially disadvantaged sections of Indian society were enabled to get better – if not equal – treatment, and has not diluted his secular vision of society, believing that the peoples of all faiths need to be given equal treatment in all lands.
The inspiration of the Editor's character in the Malayalam movie 'Vartha' can be traced to him and his short but rather controversial career at Mathrubhumi.
Creating ties between India, the world, and the United States
Prof. Nalapat has been heavily involved in an initiative to bring top level American universities, and their education system, into India. He believes that the lack of world-class research in modern Indian universities can be reversed by the infusion of US-style praxis-based learning, and that as has happened in other fields, universities in India will quickly mutate in order to compete with such an external challenge. In this context, he has himself visited campuses across the US, including the University of Georgia, the University of Texas at Dallas, Miami University, Ohio State University, American University in Washington DC and others. This focus on quality has made him say: "We are not second-class citizens of global education, and we will not settle for the leavings of Americans' faculty clubs. Indian education is sound and has been improving, but most have tended to turn out competent graduates rather than world-beaters. What we really need is to nurture excellence, which means that we want world-class centers. We need geniuses, and we cannot afford to settle for less."
India-Israel-United States relations
During the days when India was frozen in the Cold War bloc, there was not much attention being paid to his view that closer economic ties with the U.S. would be better than ties to the U.S.S.R. But, in 1991, one of his mentors, P. V. Narasimha Rao, took over as prime minister and put together an informal group of friends, including Nalapat, to develop new ideas on economics and national security.
Nalapat started promoting the creation of formal networks among Americans of East Indian descent in 1992. By 1995, Indian-Americans had formed lobbying organizations in Washington that were modeled on the successful Jewish-American groups. This became a pivot for a way to encourage closer relations between Israel and India.  Nalapat saw Jewish-Americans as the perfect ally for Indian-Americans in Washington. "Indians and Jews shared a sense of humour and slightly chaotic minds", he wrote. "They were born to be close." By 1999, the alliance between the two diasporas had begun to resonate on Capitol Hill.
The relationship became so strong that, in 2003, they played a large part in successfully lobbying the American government to allow Israel to sell EL/W-2090 airborne early warning radar systems to India. In fact, in a decade India and Israel have gone from the skimpiest official relationship to Tel Aviv being the second largest defence supplier to India (after Russia). The new Indo-Israeli-U.S. security trio came out of the closet in 2003, with Nalapat hosting a high-level trilateral conference in New Delhi. The following year the conference was held in Herzliyya, Israel; a third was held in Washington.
India-China relations
In 2000, Prof. Nalapat organized the first non-official India-China conference in which serving members of the armed forces of both countries participated. Since 1998, he has visited China several times, meeting Communist Party of China officials, People's Liberation Army officers, academics and others. He has also lectured at Peking and Fudan universities. In December 2003, he was part of the India team at the India-China Round Table organized by the University of Hong Kong. His department at Manipal has hosted several meetings, conferences and lectures with Chinese experts, at which efforts have been made to understand and afterwards suggest ways to harmonize the policies of both countries.
India-Taiwan relations
Nalapat has also worked on improving Indo-Taiwan relations. He considers Taiwan an economic power that is important to the balance of technological and knowledge mindshare in Asia. Because of a hesitation to provoke China — which shares a 3,400-km border with India — New Delhi had gingerly avoided closer contact with the island powerhouse whose exports are more than double India's. However, because of concern about China's growing might, several policy-makers in New Delhi are appreciative of Nalapat's efforts to develop close scientific and business links with Taiwan. Since 2003, key officials from both countries have been quietly visiting each other, and more than 5,000 Indian high-tech personnel now work in Taiwan.
India-Iran relations
Professor Nalapat also lectured an audience on Secularism at the Shahid Behesti University, Teheran, in December 2004 and introduced himself at the beginning of his talk as a friend of both the US and Israel while being an admirer of the Persian people and their history, religion and culture. He hosted the first India-Iran Civilisational Dialogue at Manipal in 2006, which was followed up by the next round in Tehran (2007), and has visited Iran several times in order to promote the long-standing traditions and promotion of a culture of friendship and understanding.
Concept of the 'Greater West'
In 2008 he published his concept of the Greater West, a concept based not "on the skin but in the mind", by which he meant that such a union had at its core not ethnicity but shared civilisational values. His concept of the Greater West includes Turkey, Israel, India and Singapore. He has also written about a 21st Century Anglosphere (or association of English-speaking countries) that would have the UK, the US and India at the core.
Another Nalapat proposal, pitched to officials in Washington, D.C. in September 2003, is for a North America-Asia Treaty Organization (NAATO), anchored by the U.S. and India, that would serve as a security system for Asian democracies. Canada would also be a partner, along with Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Singapore, Australia and South Korea.
Interestingly, the "core coalition" announced in December 2004 by George W. Bush to fight the effects of the killer tsunami comprised the very same countries intended to form the heart of NAATO: the U.S. and India, along with Japan and Australia. While the latter two are no surprises, the presence of India could be indicative of the future direction of alliances between North America and Asia. This is the first time that India has been at the core of a U.S. alliance. And the announcement of the tsunami coalition was closely followed by the visit of a U.S. delegation to New Delhi to discuss integrating India into the Bush administration's missile defence plan, a proposal that by 2007 had become reality.
Informally, NAATO may already be starting to come together. The Singaporean military now trains in India. American warships refuel at Indian ports. Indian ships escort U.S. vessels through parts of the region. Both Japan and Australia have begun joint military exercises and intelligence sharing with India.
Views on Kuwait
Just as Singapore has become the anchor of India within ASEAN, Kuwait is another country small in size but moderate in ethos and modernized. Since 1998, Professor Nalapat has seen Kuwait as playing within the Gulf Cooperation Council a role similar to Singapore further east, and has visited the state frequently in order to help put together strategic linkages. According to him, the moderate philosophy of “Sabahism” can be an alternative to the radical chant of Wahabbism that has created such friction within the Arab world as well as between the Arab world – with its millennial tradition of knowledge – and the rest of the globe. He sees the granting of democratic rights to the Kuwaiti people by the Al Sabahs as being the way other monarchies in the region need to follow.
Views on Pakistan
Since the early 1990s he has been concerned with the way in which the Pakistan Army has evolved since the 1970s has weakened Pakistani civil society in general and the moderate elements in particular. He has held since then that the elements necessary for a stable Pakistan are the reform of the Pakistan Army into a professional force accepting of civilian control; a federal political structure that gives each region equal status; and a polity that is not discriminatory towards minorities and women. Interestingly, Nalapat is one of only two prominent Indian journalists who write a regular column in a Pakistan newspaper, in his case this being the Pakistan Observer.
Climate change and education
Since early 2006, Prof Nalapat has been active in seeking to integrate the study of climate change into school and college curricula across India with the goal of making the new generation of Indians understand the reality of climate change and the need for viable counter-measures. Manipal University is one of the first in the world (if not the first), to make climate change studies a compulsory component of all fields of study offered by the university, including health, management, engineering, architecture, geopolitics, etc.
Technological linkages
Since October 2006, Prof Nalapat has been working on science and technology partnerships between India and Scandinavian countries especially in the fields of: renewable energy; disaster relief and management; and, potentially, nuclear safety mechanisms and processes. Several rounds of discussions are taking place to operationalize these projects. Since 2008, he has expanded this search for technology partners to include Russia, which in India has a much more natural partner than the other giant of Asia, China.
International interfaith dialogue
Professor Nalapat has been active in promoting an international interfaith dialogue. In this context, he was invited to be a speaker at the International Interfaith Dialogue held in Geneva in 2009 under the patronage of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Unlike previous dialogues, where only the Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Islam and Judaism) were represented, the Geneva dialogue included speakers from the Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Jain faiths, as did subsequent dialogues.
Other achievements
  • Madhav Das Nalapat is a Gold Medalist in economics from the University of Bombay.
  • He was a Daxina Fellow and a Lotus Foundation Prizeman of the University.
Current affiliations
  • Director of Department of Geopolitics, UNESCO Peace Chair, Manipal University
  • Distinguished Fellow, CITS, The University of Georgia
  • Member of the Advisory Council, Naveen Hindustan Foundation, New Delhi
  • Advisor, Asianet Communications Ltd, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Governing Body member, the Abdus Salam Foundation, London
  • Life Member, Institute of Social & Economic Change, Bangalore
  • Senior Associate, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore
  • Advisory Board Member, Institute of Management, Meerut
  • Associate member, United Services Institution, New Delhi