22 December 2019

The CAA, Demographics, & Identity

Note: Dear Reader, please ignore the alignment and other issues related to this post; with great difficulty I could publish this post.

he Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 has become a new rallying point for the detractors – both in the political and non-political fields. 

The liberal cabal, also called the ‘secular brigade’, were stunned with the abrogation of Article 370 and the Supreme Court’s judgment on the Ram Mandir issue. The BJP-led NDA has been accused of anti-Muslim bias. Now they are frothing at the mouth, again.

Highlights of the CAA

The below listed important provisions are excerpted from the ‘The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, which is an act further to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955. 
  • Persons belonging to the faiths of Hinduism (Hindus), Jainism (Jains), Sikhism (Sikhs), Buddhism (Buddhists), Zoroastrianism (Parsis), and Christianity (Christian) who entered India on or before 31 December 2014 will not be treated as illegal migrant.

  • Such person shall be deemed to be a citizen of India from the date of their entry into India.
  • Under the Citizenship Act, 1955, the most important requirement for citizenship by naturalization is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 years of the previous 14 years. The CAA relaxes this 11-year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the above-mentioned religions and three countries.

  • Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under 'The Inner Line' notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

  • The Inner Line Permit allows an Indian citizen to visit or stay in a state that is protected under the ILP system. The system is in force today in the north-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya (notification issues recently), Nagaland and Mizoram; no Indian citizen can visit any of these states without an ILP unless he or she belongs to that state, nor can he or she (over)stay beyond the period specified in the ILP.

As you see, there is nothing anti-Muslim here. Also, it has nothing to do with Indian citizens.

A Muslim from any country, including from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, can apply for Indian citizenship. However, she will have to come through the normal process, and not through the expedited process that will be available to non-Muslims from these countries.

The three countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan have been explicitly mentioned because they are avowedly Muslim, with Islam as a state religion. It is an open secret that religious minorities of Hindus, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, and Parsis are greatly discriminated against, persecuted in every way possible, and denied basic freedoms.

Forced conversions to Islam are an ugly fact of life while blasphemy laws are routinely used to harass and intimidate religious minorities in these countries.

Tamil Hindus of Sri Lanka

A moot question that many people have raised relates to the Hindu Tamils of Sri Lanka. Why haven’t they been included in the CAA?

It is true that the Tamil speaking Hindus in Sri Lanka were, for decades, severely discriminated against, on the basis of their ethnicity, by the majority community of Sinhala-speaking Buddhists. In fact, such discrimination was the fundamental reason behind the rise of Tamil separatism, spearheaded by the dreaded Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

However, ever since the end of the war that effectively smashed the LTTE out of existence, the Sri Lankan government has ended decades-old discriminatory practices against the Tamil Hindus. Today, Hindus are not discriminated against in Sri Lanka like they were in the past.

NE India: Identity Crisis & Changing Demographics

A social group may fear that its identity and culture would be swamped, whether within a state or in the country at large. Smaller groups within a state or province may have legitimate fears of being overridden by larger or more powerful groups.

he idea of difference, or strangeness, dominates the human psyche. As a species, we believe that we are ‘different’ from animals (though science would classify us as mammals, and therefore an animal species). Even as individuals, we believe that we are different from ‘the others’. This belief, the outcome of social, cultural, and religious moorings, shapes our identity. It also develops our perspective, shapes our attitude, and defines our understanding of the world around us.

In a multi-cultural and multi-religious country like India, the interests of various groups tend to diverge, which, unfortunately, has engendered a divisive nature in us. Concerns, arising from threats to one’s distinct identity, often precipitate the process of transformation of a religious or ethnic or linguistic or cultural identity into a political movement designed to ‘protect’ the so-called distinct identity.

India’s NE states are characterized by great religious, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity. Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland are Christian majority states; Sikkim has a Buddhist majority; Tripura has a Hindu majority; Arunachal Pradesh has a Buddhist and Christian majority, while Manipur has a Christian and Hindu majority (in equal measure).

The 'Outsiders' in NE

The native people of Assam have, for long, resented the presence of outsiders amidst them. By ‘outsiders’, we mean the illegal migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh who have poured into Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya, and Tripura.
The Assamese accuse the Bangla-speaking illegal Muslim migrants of grabbing the local economic resources, grabbing land, and imposing their way of life on the hapless natives. In some parts of Assam, illegal Bangladeshi migrants constitute nearly 40 per cent of the population.

In her incisive monograph titled, ‘Illegal Migration from Bangladesh’, for the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, Pushpita Das, writes that:

  • The unrelenting migration from East Bengal/East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) into Assam, Tripura and West Bengal was clearly brought out in the census data on population growth of these bordering states. For example, in the first three decades after independence, Assam registered an overall population growth of around 35–36 per cent, way ahead of the national average of around 21–25 per cent, indicating a rise of population through migration.
  • The Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 triggered yet another massive inflow of refugees into India. It was estimated that close to 10 million people from East Pakistan had entered India.
  • To make matters worse, most of the migrants who were deported from Assam in the 1960s re-entered the country. The steady rise of Muslim population in the state from 24.68 per cent in 1951 to 28.43 per cent in 1991 to 34.2 per cent in 2011 is also taken as an indication of large-scale migration from Bangladesh, an assertion further reinforced by the increase of Muslim population in the bordering districts of Goalpara, Nowgong and Cachar, from 42.94 per cent, 34.18 per cent and 38.49 per cent in 1951 to 51.31 per cent, 38.42 per cent and 45.47 per cent respectively in 2001.
  • Post-independence, Tripura also witnessed massive inflow of people from East Pakistan, a majority of whom were Hindus. As a result, in the first decade after independence, the state’s population increased by 78.71 per cent, which was highest in the country. In the subsequent three decades, the population growth rate continued to hover around 30–35 per cent. The share of tribal population in the state, on the other hand, decreased from 53.16 per cent in 1941 to 31.50 per cent in 1961, which further decreased to 28 per cent in 1981. (end of excerpt)

In this context it is pertinent to know that perhaps the bloodiest fight over resources between the natives and the illegal migrants took place in Nellie in Assam’s Nagaon district in 1983, when over 2,000 migrant Muslims, including women and children, were killed in attacks by local tribals.

An Aside on Demographics of Bengali Speakers in NE India

The total number of Bengali speakers in India, as per Census 2011, is 9,72,37,669 (9.72 crore approx.). Of these 7,86,98,852 (7.86 crore approx.) reside in West Bengal. A total of 1,85,38,817 (1.85 crore approx.) Bengali speakers reside outside WB.

Where does most of the 1.85 crore Bengali speakers reside? The table below lists the absolute number of Bengali speakers in NE states, most of which are predominantly tribal.  

Source: Census 2011
Most importantly, large-scale illegal migration into West Bengal and NE states has led to a sharp fall in the availability of land for cultivation and great scrambling for mostly unskilled jobs. The native folks residing in various NE states deeply resented (and continue to resent) the presence of illegal migrants who were not taking away their sources of livelihood but were also, in some places, imposing their way of life on the natives.

As you can see, the people of Assam and NE states are protesting not just against people of a particular religion, but against all ‘outsiders’ who they accuse of nibbling away at economic opportunities and swamping their way of life.
As for the CAA in general, all it has done is to reduce the window of waiting period for the persecuted minorities in three countries to get Indian citizenship from 11 years to five years.

Last Word

As you must have observed, most of the ‘violent’ anti-CAA protests are taking place in BJP-ruled states. In states ruled by the Congress or where the Congress is in power via coalition, no violent protests have taken place. Even in Hyderabad’s Old City area, a stronghold of the AIMIM, a staunch Muslim party, there have been no violent protests. 
What this tells us is that the protests by the Muslim community in BJP-ruled states are politically sponsored by anti-BJP forces.

I think a great failing of the BJP has been ‘communication’. The party has several effective public speakers, yet they have failed miserably in communicating to the public, especially Muslims, that the CAA has nothing to do with Indian citizens.

It is pertinent that the Central Government carefully manages the aspirations of distinct groups, as this is critical to ensuring social stability and maintenance of peace and order. Also, it would be great if the BJP runs an effective information campaign about the CAA to counter the misinformation and malacious propaganda about the CAA.

28 November 2019

$543 Billion!

According to India’s Ministry of Finance’s report on external debt, India's external debt was at around $543 billion as at end-March 2019. In terms of external debt ranking, India ranks 24th in the world.

External debt of India is the money owed by India to foreign creditors. In simple words, it is the money we have borrowed which we have to pay back (along with the interest on it).

World’s Most Indebted Nations
With a debt of $20,263 billion, the United States is the world’s most indebted country, i.e., it has the highest external debt. In fact, the U.S.’ external debt is a tad lower than the combined external debt of the three next ranked countries: the United Kingdom (second rank at $8,491 billion), France ($6,470 billion), and Germany ($5,800 billion).

Types of Debts
As you know, based on maturity (when it becomes due for payment), there are two kinds of debts: long-term and short-term.

A loan with a maturity period of more than one year is termed long-term debt.

A loan with a maturity period of less than one year, i.e., this debt would become due for repayment in the next twelve months, is called short-term debt.

Short-term debt includes both the principal and the interest on such loans. In other words, short term external debt includes short term debt by original maturity as well as long term debt (that has become due for maturity).

A government (just about any authority) prefers long-term debt for a fundamental reason: the longer the maturity period of the debt the lower the pressure on repayment.

In this context, it is pertinent to cite the breakdown of India’s external debt by maturity: about 80 per cent of the total external debt is long-term (i.e., about $434 bn of $543 bn). It is a no-brainer to say that the lower short-term debt works in the country’s favour.

Components of External Debt
There are several components of India’s external debt. However, for the common person to understand something as complex as external debt, the following are the main components of India’s external debt:

Multilateral credit – borrowed by the Government of India from institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank;

Bilateral credit – borrowed by the Government of India from other countries (like Japan);

External commercial borrowings (ECBs) – these are the borrowings of companies like Bharti Airtel from abroad;

Deposits of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). NRI deposits are treated as liabilities as they have to be repaid to the depositors, and

Foreign Institutional Investment (FII) – investment by foreign fund houses (like mutual funds) in India’s stock markets and government securities.

Sources of the external debt of $543 bn
The Reserve Bank of India has a lowdown on the debt mix of the Government of India.  

 As you deduce from the source mix, just about 19 per cent of the total external debt is owed by the Government of India. This government debt is also called ‘Sovereign’ debt. The remaining part of the external debt is non-government debt. 

Vulnerability of the Indian economy
India is not vulnerable to any major or minor problem arising on the external debt front. The World Bank’s SDDS says that there is no vulnerability of the Indian economy to external shocks on the debt front. India’s foreign exchange reserves (of around $447 billion in November 2019) to external debt is around 82 per cent is within manageable limits. 

That's all folks!

25 November 2019

Rising Unemployment in India

The latest data on unemployment in India points to a significant surge. In fact, at 7.5%, the latest unemployment rate is the highest in 38 months, reveals the CMIE data. For calculation of this rate, the base is October–December 2015.

So, what is unemployment rate? 
Unemployment rate is the ratio of the unemployed to the working age population that is willing to work. If therefore considers only a part of the working age population – the part that is willing to work. 

In other words, the ratio of the employed to the working age population is called the employment rate.

India has a total labour force of about 52 crore. A low labour participation rate means fewer people are willing to work. 

In January 2016, the labour participation rate was 47%; it is down to 43% in October 2019, which effectively means that fewer people in the labour force are looking for and participating in work. 

There is a problem here: even though the labour participation rate is down to 43% (i.e., fewer people are participating in work), even these fewer people are not finding jobs (unlike in 2016). 

To put in perspective, of the 43% of the working age population willing to work, 7.5% are unable to find any work.

In light of the global slowdown and the deceleration in the Indian economy, the employment situation is unlikely to improve in the near future.  

06 March 2019

U.S.-China Trade War: A Lowdown

A short explainer on the trade war between the U.S. and China. 

U.S. trade in goods with China 
(latest info, as of November 2018, sourced from www.census.gov, a U.S. government website)

  • Imports from China: U.S.$493.49 billion
  • Exports to China: U.S.$111.16 billion
  • Trade Balance: minus (–)U.S.$382 billion

The U.S. accuses China of high tariffs (taxes) on American products, which make them expensive for the Chinese to buy.

Also, Washington has accused Beijing of doing nothing to prevent theft of intellectual property rights (like counterfeit goods and pirated software) and stealing of trade secrets (including through corporate espionage or by breaking into computer systems of American companies to gain access to cutting-edge technologies). The U.S. estimates the damages from China’s bad behaviour at around $600 billion.

Tariffs & Impact
To punish China for its bad behaviour and inaction, the U.S. imposed high tariffs on around Chinese goods (like handbags and heavy machinery) with $250 billion. Tariff increases ranged between 10% and 25%.

China hit back with $110 billion in tariffs on American goods.

The U.S. has postponed imposing another of tariffs on Chinese goods (worth $200 billion) as negotiations are underway to broker a better trade deal.

As of today, the Chinese have agreed to buy more American goods, especially agricultural products (like soybean). Farmers are among the major vote banks of Donald Trump. However, to push Trump to buckle down, China has imposed higher tariffs on goods (like coal and chemicals) made in Republican strongholds.

Beijing has also agreed to reduce tariffs on some American products to help those products gain wider market access.

Tariffs (taxes) on Chinese goods would make American products cheaper (comparatively) in the home market. This would induce Americans to buy more American goods (and not expensive Chinese goods).

China’s exports to the U.S. make for nearly 25% of its total exports. A drop in its exports to the U.S. could harm Beijing a lot more than it is willing to admit; of course, bragging aside, Beijing knows that a drop in exports to the U.S., especially amid a slowdown in its economic growth, could lead to industrial contraction, higher unemployment, and social unrest.

Status today
Both the U.S. and China have dug in their heels, though both countries cannot afford to do that for a long haul. Washington and Beijing are waiting for the other to blink, though both parties are staring at each other.

04 March 2019

Venezuela Crisis in a Nutshell

In this short explainer on the crisis enveloping Venezuela, I have tried to be brief and to the point.

Nicolas Maduro                   Juan Guaido

Who’s Who in Venezuela

President: Nicolas Maduro, a hardcore socialist, anti-U.S., leader of United Socialist Party of Venezuela.   

Who supports Nicolas Maduro:
    (a) Within Venezuela: Supreme Court of Venezuela, Defence Forces of Venezuela, PDVSA (state-owned oil company); 

Outside Venezuela: China, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua  (last three are in the Americas).

Who does Maduro blame for the current crisis
: United States of America.

Challenger: Juan Guaido, self-declared Interim President since January 2019 and leader of Popular Will, a centrist party.

Who supports Juan Guaido

(a) Within Venezuela: Low-ranking military officials and huge popular support.
(b) Outside Venezuela: U.S., UK, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Role of Oil in Venezuelan Economy

  • Oil reserves in Venezuela are said to be among the top 3 in the world.
  • Oil accounts for 98% of export earnings. 
  • Oil accounts for 50% of GDP
  • High global oil supply, falling crude prices, and poor extraction technology have led to a big decline in oil production – all of which have drastically reduced the government’s export earnings, thereby widening revenue deficit. 
  •  In 2018, GDP shrunk by double digits for the third consecutive year. 
  • Government does not have foreign exchange reserves to pay for imports and loans. 
  • Venezuela has been in default since 2017 – meaning, it has not paid back foreign loans and not paid for imports. 
  • U.S. and other countries have a long-running embargo against Venezuela; this has shrunk market for Venezuelan products and reduced avenues for borrowings.

Major Problems

  • Great political and economic instability 
  • Mostly, a result of catastrophic humanitarian emergency. 
  • Severe shortage of food, medicine, & other essentials – mostly because of hoarding, embargo, and hyperinflation. 
    • Hyperinflation, meaning very, very high rate of inflation, is leading to doubling of prices of essential goods every 19 days on average. Current inflation is around 85,000%. Thousands of health professionals have left the country, leading to medical emergency. 
    • Lack of access to food and healthcare have pushed 90% of people below the poverty line.  
    • On average, a Venezuelan has lost around 12 kg of body weight since 2017. 
    • It is believed that some 3 million have already fled Venezuela; the number is likely to rise to 5 million by the end of 2019.

In a nutshell, years of economic mismanagement, misdirected welfare policies (subsidizing almost everything through high revenue earned by oil exports), huge debt, massive shortage of essential stuff, hyperinflation, political instability – have all led to the current catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

01 February 2019

The Explainer: Budget at a Glance

In India, there is hardly any economic event that captures popular imagination as much as the Union Budget. This Explainer will focus on the complex budget jargon that puts off even 'interested–in–budget' souls.

What is a Vote on Account?
The Central Government must seek approval of the Parliament to withdraw money from the Consolidated Fund of India to meet expenses.

A full budget goes through a long process; with elections due soon and without parliamentary approval, the Central Government may run out of cash to meet expenses. This may paralyze the functioning of the government (a la the shutdown in the U.S.).

Tell me more about Vote on Account (VoA).
VoA is generally undertaken for only two months and can’t exceed six months.

VoA is taken in two cases:
o   Government is unable to pass a full Budget by 31 March;
o   Term of the current government ends close to 31 March.

VoA is different from Interim Budget in one major aspect:
o   Interim Budget focuses on both revenue & expenditure whereas the VoA focuses ONLY on expenses.

What is a Fiscal Year?
Any twelve–month period that is used for submission of accounts, taxation purposes and to state financial reporting by private and public sector companies is called a Fiscal Year.

In India, the Government has laid down the provision that the 12–month starting on April 1 and ending on March 31 of next year will be treated as a Fiscal Year.

To put it in perspective, this article is being written on 1 February 2019, i.e., in Financial Year 201819. This is also called Fiscal Year ’19.

In the same way, the financial year for 201920 will start on 1 April 2019 and will end on 31 March 2020. So, on 1 April 2019, we will enter Fiscal Year ’20.

Define Budget.
The Budget is a statement of revenues and expenditures for the coming fiscal year, i.e., the one that starts on April 1 of this year.

What does the Budget consist of?
Look at the table graphic below. This document titled, Budget at a Glance, is the best document to understand the components of the various types of figures in the Budget.

The Union Budget 201920 consists of the following:
(a)   Actuals for 201718,
(b)   Budget Estimates for 201819,
(c)   Revised Estimates for 201819, and
(d)   Budget Estimates for 201920.

The Actuals for 2017–18 may be represented as such but they STILL would be PROVISIONAL only. This means that these figures are NOT the final figures for 2017
18 but are subject to further revision. In fact, the final figures for 201718 will only be available toward the end of Financial Year 201819 (or Fiscal Year ’19).

Budget Estimates (BE) relate to the figures set out by the Finance Minister in his Budget Speech last year (i.e., in February 2018) for the Financial Year 201819.

However, all figures related to revenue collection, expenditure, other allocations – are subject to change. These numbers are mere ESTIMATES and not actuals. As the year progresses, such figures may sometimes need to be revised. For example, if there is low industrial and agricultural activity (meaning lower economic output), tax collections may dip. 
This, in turn, will reduce the government’s Revenue Receipts.

In such case, the Government may revise the Budget Estimates (made in the Budget). Such altered figures are labeled Revised Estimates (RE). These RE are listed in the third column.

In the fourth and last column, you will find Budget Estimates for the coming Financial Year 201920. These figures reflect the various estimates made by the Government in terms of Receipts (including tax collections) and Expenditures (including interest payments and salary payments to government employees).

23 January 2019

Datagraphic: Top 7 Economies by GDP (Nominal)

India was ranked the sixth biggest economy by GDP in 2017; however, it is back to being the seventh  biggest economy. 

20 January 2019

The Explainer: Erdogan, Khashoggi, Gulen, & MbS

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has brought intense focus on Turkish leader Recep T. Erdogan's campaign against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. I will explore a couple of major reasons behind the purpoted angst of the Turkish leader.

Who was Jamal Khashoggi? Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian journalist and an insider in the Saudi royal court. He fled to the U.S after running afoul of
Jamal Khashoggi
the current royal administration in Saudi Arabia. A vociferous critic of the Saudi Arabian royal house, especially the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, he was a columnist for the Washington Post newspaper and head of an Arab news channel.

On 2 October 2018, he visited the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to collect documents pertaining to the dissolution of his marriage to a Saudi Arabian woman; the documents were necessary for him to get married to his Turkish fiancée. He was murdered inside the consulate by Saudi Arabian intelligence officials. Till date, no trace of his body has been found.

Read Who is Mohammad bin Salman?

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has since thrown West Asia into turmoil. The Khashoggi saga has embroiled Saudi Arabia and Turkey in a war of words, with the U.S. squeezed between its two important allies. The following are the major players in the Khashoggi saga: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States, Iran, Qatar, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Turkey directly implicated Saudi Arabia of carrying out the murder on its soil, even pointing a finger at the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for his involvement. Turkish President Recep T. Erdogan claimed the possession of
Recep T. Erdogan (Source: from Wikipedia)
unimpeachable evidence of the involvement of the Saudi Crown Prince, suggesting that the order for the murder “came from the highest authorities in the Saudi administration”.

Why did the Turkish President get so worked up about the murder of a Saudi dissident? The answer to this seemingly distasteful question lies in the ‘great power’ ambitions of the two countries.

We know that Saudi Arabia is the de facto leader of the Muslim World; however, Turkey, under Recep T. Erdogan, wants to become the centre of the Muslim World, just like the Ottoman empire was before its eventual collapse in 1922. Erdogan, an Islamist, has a grand vision of becoming the voice of the Muslim World, and he has made no effort to conceal his ambitions.

Erdogan is a firm supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian extremist organization with a wide support base in the Muslim World. The Muslim Brotherhood is an anti-monarchy, pro-Sharia group. The Muslim Brotherhood came to power in Egypt through its political party in 2012, a development that rang alarm bells in the capitals of the monarchies in the Muslim World.

The anti-monarchy, pro-Sharia core ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood raised the hackles of the Saudi monarchy who felt threatened by the hardcore Islamist who was now the president of Egypt, a neighbouring country. Alarmed by the spectre of the spread of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabia royal house instigated the Egyptian army to oust the Muslim Brotherhood from power and take over the country. Thus, in July 2013, barely a few months after coming to power, the Islamist President of Egypt was ousted and jailed on charges of terrorism.

The Saudi Arabian involvement in the ousting of the democratically elected government in Egypt angered Erdogan, a die-hard supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi came in a blessing for him to put the Saudis on the mat. He leaked evidence of the involvement of the Saudi Crown Prince in the Khashoggi murder case in a calibrated manner; in fact, the method was so effective that it has been called “death by a thousand leaks”.

Saudi Arabia botched its response to the Khashoggi murder saga; from firmly denying its involvement to calling it a rogue intelligence operation without concurrence of the royal house, the Saudi Arabian government came across as confused and unprepared for the massive backlash from the international community.

There is another reason behind Turkey’s shrill campaign against Saudi 
Arabia: Fethullah Gulen. Gulen, a friend-turned-foe of Erdogan, lives in self-imposed exile in the United States. He runs a social and charity organization engaged mostly in education activities. His organization is widely popular across Turkey, with millions of members, with thousands of them in influential positions in the administration.

Erdogan accused Gulen of instigating the July 2016 military coup. Thousands of 
Fethullah Gulen
his followers were arrested while another 1.5 lakh were fired from their jobs in the administration, including in the military. Turkish jails are full of Gulen’s followers with allegations of vendetta flying thick.

Erdogan has demanded the extradition of Gulen from the U.S., a request Washington has repeatedly turned down, citing lack of credible evidence from the Turkish government.

It is believed that Erdogan is using the Jamal Khashoggi issue as a bargaining chip: Erdogan will stop badgering the Saudi Royal House (i.e., Crown Prince MbS) if the U.S. hands over Gulen to Turkey.

Why will the U.S. agree to this arrangement? A major reason could be the extraordinary pressure from Saudi Arabia on Donald Trump; Trump sees MbS as an important cog in the U.S. policy in the region.

If you have been following the Jamal Khashoggi saga, you would have noticed that the noise from Turkey against MbS has subsided considerably; maybe the Gulen factor is at play. We do not yet know.