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. He took over as Chief of News Bureau in 1995 and co-coordinating editor in 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 the professor of geopolitics at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education and distinguished fellow of the University of Georgia. In the past, he has served on the academic committees of Trivandrum, Calicut and Bangalore Universities.
He has contributed to leading publications throughout the world and has written six books, the latest of which is INDUTVA, the thesis of which is that every Indian is a synthesis of Hindu/Vedic, Moghul and European heritage and so communalism makes no sense. Apart from his work, he has played a key role in the literacy movement in Kerala, as honorary co-coordinator of 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.
Prof. Nalapat has been heavily involved in an initiative to bring top level American universities, and their education system, into India. But, unlike previous attempts which tended to result in less than top-drawer results, he is focusing strictly on quality, not brands. He has been quoted as saying:"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's brain food"
During the days when India was frozen in the Cold War block, 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 "kitchen cabinet", including Nalapat, to develop new ideas on economics and national security.
With the U.S. and Indian foreign policy establishments still suspicious of each other, an icebreaker was needed. The Indian diaspora in the U.S. -- one of the most prosperous and educated groups in that country -- was seemingly made-to-order, not only in helping convince Washington to forget India's pro-Moscow Cold War tilt, but also using networks of family and friends in India to chip away at the hostility of several key officials toward a warming of ties with the U.S.
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 modelled -- not accidentally -- on the successful Jewish-American groups. Here also was a backdoor 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 Phalcon airborne early warning radar systems to India. In fact, in a decade India and Israel have gone from the skimpiest official relationship to Jerusalem 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.
Nalapat has also worked on improving Indo-Taiwan relations. He considers Taiwan a country that is important to the balance of power 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 call to develop close scientific and business links with Taiwan. Since 2003, some key officials from both countries have been quietly visiting each other, and more than 5,000 Indian high-tech personnel now work in Taiwan. Slowly the relationship is coming out into the open.
To the Taiwanese, Nalapat has stressed commonalities: India and Taiwan are both democracies, something important to the Americans; India excels in software, Taiwan dominates in hardware; India needs investment, Taiwan is looking to diversify. Some of that investment would be in India's high-tech sector. And there is also the lure of India's $150-billion infrastructure market: India needs roads, ports and the like -- projects in which the Taiwanese have much experience.
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.
Professor Nalapat also lectured on Secularism at the Shahid Behesti University, Teheran, in December 2004 and introduced himself as a friend and admirer of both the US and Israel as well as an admirer of the Persian people and their history and culture.
Another Nalapat proposal, pitched to Pentagon officials 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, Singapore, Australia and South Korea.
The Americans may be receptive. The "core coalition" announced in December 2004 by George W. Bush to fight the effects of the killer tsunami was comprised of 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, and the exclusion of China, 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.
Informally, NAATO is already 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.
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.
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.