For last two years, at Drishtikone, we have presented predictions for the coming years. And it is interesting to see how they have stacked up.
Last year also we made some predictions. Let us first review them a bit and then look at how the future looks like:
Pakistan: I had said that I see more turmoil in that country and suddenly Iraq will seem like a tame cousin. Well, from most accounts all over the world from major analysts – specifically after the Mumbai Attacks – that seems VERY true. The Islamists are back in the saddle there, as far as decision making and calling the shots are concerned. And more importantly Taliban has virtually over-run most of the border region and is ruling as a parallel government in Swat valley – not too far from Islamabad.
I had wondered if Musharraf’s life will be in danger.. well, he was smart as he extricated himself out of the politics in time. His time was up anyways for now.
Going foward: In the next year or two, I see complete Talibanization of Pakistan. I mean COMPLETE! War against India is imminent as it happens and I see a real danger to the Indian cities from the fanatic terrorist minds in Pakistan.
The money is almost run out, economy doesn’t have any inherent strength to speak of with nothing much to export other than Nukes so Saudi money and fanaticism is the only hope. The economy will spiral into bankruptcy very soon and also into Islamist rule. Women’s right and minorities (whatever insignificant numbers survive still!) will be trampled upon and equivalent of Bamiyan Buddhas will happen under everyone’s watch.
Attacks on US troops will start soon (until now, only the supplies have been interrupted)… and that is what will create the Iraq like situation there.
India: India will see a substantial rise in the attacks – terrorist and insurgent attacks. This will lead to losing of patience of the ordinary man. I see a conflicting election result.. Neither Congress nor BJP will get a complete majority.. and I see a re-election happening soon after as the coming in coalition will not survive. I see one major leader emerging in India in the medium term – Narendra Modi. I know he doesn’t even seem like a possibility but he will be a Prime Minister within the next 5 years. The situation on the ground and the attacks on India will make him a certainty.
As for the economy, I have seen an over-reaction from Indian businesses and politicians about the Indian economy and I feel that despite the initial shocks in the stock market and jobs, things will stabilize to a decent growth rate once the outsourcing (to reduce costs overseas) truly kicks in. The terrorist attacks are the only deterrents that I forsee. How the Indian businesses react to all this will largely determine the future of the country. I see a MUCH stronger political role of the top Indian business houses in the Indian polity.
Bangladesh: Sheikh Hasina is coming to power but I see a tremendous turmoil due to increase ISI activity there as the desperate ISI tries to boost up Khalida Zia and India tries to put weight behind Sheikh Hasina. Who wins here will determine a big part of North East question for India!
Last year I had predicted that despite the astrologers’ predictions of Hillary’s victory, I see Obama as the 44th President. That, at least came true. Now, I see him trying to handle a lot at the same time. No other President in the US history would have seen such a situation as he will.
I feel he will be greatly let down by his staff. They would not be able to measure up to him. There will be some big changes mid way. He will forge newer ties with many countries and try to revive the NATO alliance which will help US handle the Islamic challenge. I see his engagement increase with India.
His life is also in danger. Many conservatives will be against him. I don’t see a major threat to the US, but if… just IF.. he is ever hurt in an assassination attempt, and the person happens to be a neo-con (which is a strong possibility) then unprecedented riots and violence will occur in the country and THAT could be the biggest threat to this country’s stability.
The bad period has just started. I even for a moment do not believe that we are in the middle or have handled the toughest part. The tough work will follow now… as Oil goes back to high prices, dollar falls again (somewhere by the end of the year), and deficit continues to soar… and the wars bleed more and more. Like I have said before, despite Obama’s pledge to come out of Iraq, I do not see US coming out of Iraq in the next 5 years.
Because of the world economy, poverty in the developing world will rise even more as the commodities become scarce and the money becomes less and less.
In the coming months and years, a major direction correction in the use of Internet will also take place. Thinking heads will try and devise an more secure network and create ways to catch the terror minded. But it will also enhance its usage.