Annual Predictions are a ritual at Dristikone. We look at what we discussed last year and then look at how the next year will pan out to be given the socio-economic situations, trends and events. We will do so again this year. In last year’s prediction, we had suggested that – If 2016 was the year of bad news and hope from anarchists, then 2017 will be coming of age of the anarchists. And, indeed breaking down of the order – the traditions, the values, the norms and the ways – was normalized. Lies were brandished as “Facts” via mindless repetition and facts were ridiculed as lies. Unabashedly. And Shamelessly. Thus we went beyond the breaking down of order. The world entered a new era – of Breaking Down of Sanity itself![bctt tweet=”Annual Predictions for #India, #Pakistan and the US for 2018 #AnnualPredictions2018 #Trump” username=”drishtikone”]
In May this year, Angela Merkel asserted – Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands – in a speech at a political event. And, in early December, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel announced The traditional view of the United States as having a protecting role was beginning to “crumble”. The Western hegemony is being dismantled right in front of our eyes in the name of “Making America Great – Again”.
The new world order which decided the norms, the human rights, the security powers, the main decision making players, the trade routes, the commerce laws and indeed what was correct and what was not was not done in isolation. It was a handing of baton by Colonial powers of the past to those of the new world. Colonialism by remote and laws was the new way. Using finances and punitive powers, the UN and the West has for the last 70 years decided the world order. No more.
Why? Because the leader, the United States, is abdicating the authority and its allies, the Europeans are weak, dependent and withering. Merkel was right on what needs to be done. But it sounded more like an urgent call by one sheep to the others to don the role of a tiger. Fact is that they are weak beyond repair.
Over the years, the Western world, specially the Europeans, who fought the White Christian Supremacism, allowed Islamic Supremacism to take a free ride on the back of Liberalism. Liberal ideologues became Islamic apologists. They compromised the global fight against Supremacism by fighting against one and putting another on a pedestal. Riding the Liberal wagon, Islamic Supremacism has now happily entrenched itself into the womb of Western world. Those who want the old order of Western Universalism back – are strangely in the corner of Islamic supremacists who are dismembering the very fabric that ensured the Western ways. The fight against Islamic Supremacism is, therefore left to White Supremacists to handle.
Western Universalism was suffocatingly and patronizingly claustrophobic. Yet, it ensured a sense of peace on its own terms. It dictated norms and laws and rules. Yet, it ensured world obeyed those as well. Whether out of guilt or penance, the West did allow others to partake into the leadership of the World order, most reluctantly though. Yet it happened. But the new world will not be so clear-cut and orderly.
The powers which are working actively to dismember the Western order are also against the Islamic order. These new players – Russia and China – indeed have the right idea when it comes to fighting the two civilizational supremacist ideologies. But, the problem is that they want to replace both by their Supremacism! What was perfected by them during their Communist era is being retrofitted for the new world – sans Communism – to disrupt societies and the West.
These Oligarchies (Communists are oligarchs as well) – China and Russia – have no pretentions to keep. No votes to influence. And no democracies to manage. This puts them in an invincible position already. If this was a 100 meters race, then Oligarchies like China and Russia will have no competition from any democracy for the first 50 meters. By then, the race would have long been lost.
That is why, I am convinced, that by the end of 2018, there will be credible voices asking the obvious (yet heretical) question – Is Democracy Relevant Today?
The answer – given the opposition – is as obvious as the question is. Fight between Oligarchies and Democracies is like a fight between an Army with canons and guns and that with swords and spears. The former will always win. For, they can game and play your system to choose your leadership and disrupt your nations, you cannot make a dent into theirs!
And, with this will change the very character and scope of media. Western media still has some integrity despite infiltration by the various ideologues. And, this goes both ways. Specially when it comes to promoting and underwriting the stereotypes in other countries. So, if New York Times is factual for the US, it is stupid when it comes to situation in India. For, in the latter case, it is a front for the machinations of the American right.
Given this background, let us into our Annual Predictions.
Annual Prediction for India – Year of Dirty Politics and Divisions
Those who are faking the news and falsifying the truths in American politics – the Christian Right, and those who are fighting the fake news in American politics – the Liberals who are in bed with Islamism – come together in India to fight the Nationalist forces and indeed the current Indian Government. In 2012, this was reflected when four US Congressmen – Keith Ellison, Joe Pitts, Trent Franks and Frank Wolf – (Islamists and Evangelists) came together to work on denying the then Gujarat Chief Minister the US visa. This was done using the draconian – International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) – which uses the Evangelists to spearhead evaluation of religious tolerance and human rights in other countries. And, it is these forces – the ultra-left/Islamist and the ultra-right who have regularly worked with the so-called Indian liberals who prop Islamists as the paragons of Secularism. In India, the White Christian Supremacists and Islamic Supremacists become strange bed-fellows!
An ideological soul mate to Franks, Pitts is another evangelical conservative who has made opposing not just Modi, but the Bharatiya Janata Party, specifically, a target of several Congressional hearings.
From inviting activist Teesta Setalvad — whom the same Supreme Court SIT reportedly condemned for perjury by fabricating affidavits implicating Modi — to Capitol Hill hearings and repeatedly co-sponsoring bills on behalf of Christian Dalit leaders, Pitts also trumpeted his hosting a film screening, India’s Hidden Slavery, that was sponsored by Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
Perhaps Pitts faced his greatest embarrassment when his Indian agenda focused on Gujarat, Orissa, and Dalits began congealing with that of Dan Burton, that anti-India stalwart (who also signed the letter against Modi), and expanded to parroting the Pakistani view on India.
Those calls for a plebiscite in Kashmir, forming the Congressional Forum on Kashmir, and benedictions to erstwhile president Pervez Musharraf were the ones Pitts likely hoped to retract when the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that after Burton, Pitts was the highest recipient of largesse from the Virginia-based, convicted Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence agent, Ghulam Nabi Fai.
These bed-fellows have a new weapon. The bent, falsehood-spewing, selectively humanist existing media of India, now with the added weapon of creating fake news unabashedly in the name of opinions. We know how outlets like TheWire.in proudly peddle in flat out fake news – just plain and simple falsehoods without apology. The Agenda is set by the Supremacists Inc of the West – Islamists and the White Christian.
We saw an example of this in the Gujarat elections – with breaking of norms with respect to meetings with Pakistan to the spreading of falsehoods on the PM and creating casteist polarization by the trio of casteist jokers – Hardik, Jignesh and Alpesh – Congress tried the Trump trick in India. Cambridge Analytica, with links to Russia – and instrumental in the fake news campaign by Trump – was hired by Congress for creating their campaign in India.
This strategy of fabrications will rise in the coming elections. And they will be accompanied by the same chutzpah-based aggression as was used to counter the BJP attack on the Congress meeting with Pakistan’s ISI representatives! Something that was absolutely and obviously against the national interest, was spun around as normal and all those who have been brainwashed to hate Modi, went along with this decidedly anti-national conspiracy.
The brazen-ness of these forces will only rise in 2018. The only way to counter these situations and forces is to be as brazen and unapologetic. And, that will create a situation of polarization. But this fight needs to be won for India’s future. It will lead to the obvious question that I mentioned earlier – Is Democracy relevant today?
When we are facing an era where democracy can be gamed via external forces – China, Russsians, American Right – in India, the time will come when democracy will need to be abandoned. And it will come sooner than we realize!
And, it may come due to a war or war-like situation started off by Pakistan to ward off its existential situation.
Annual Predictions for India on Economy: On the economic front, the year will be a tough fight for the government to decide between some sops and easing of things for the consumers versus the fiscal status. 2018 is the year when Modi Government has to get ready to fight the 2019 elections. And, it cannot loosen up at this moment. It not only should do good, but also appear to be doing good. Until now, most of the great work that has occurred has been to bolster the underlying economic situation. Foundational work with reforms and institutions, scrapping of Planning Commission and ushering in the new way of doing things, getting the poor ready for more certainty via the Jan Dhan Yojana, the linkage with Aadhar. These were thankless reforms – whatever was done well will go unappreciated and whatever was missed up on would be blown up out of proportions. And, that needs to be countered with two point agenda for 2018:
- Straighten up the issues in current schemes, programs and close the loose ends
- Undertake works and initiatives – along with some kick-ass communication program – that show-case growth that is happening clearly
The next set of foundational reforms should be post-2019. Now is the time for obvious growth.
Annual Predictions on Governance in India: This will be another area of action for Modi Government. Why? Because all those corruption cases, which people have been asking about will start maturing very soon into a final result. Knowing Modi to be a shrewd politician, the BJP should push for final action on the ones with the most high profile people. After all, the CBI court recently did convict Laloo Yadav in the fodder scam case this month. But convictions will not be enough. Modi Government will need someone big to go to the jail. And, two people highest on that list are Robert Vadra and Vijay Mallya. If they both or even one is put behind bars, then the perception of fight against corruption will have a face. The fight against corruption is happening on the ground – with changes in the bureaucracy and the implementation of rules and laws and bringing in major changes like demonetization – but it needs a visible closure for some big case. And, my sense is that we will have that by the end of the year.
Last year we had predicted that things in Indian politics will get very dirty and the opposition will use the external consultants to do a Trump in India, while Modi will attempt to win all the State Assembly elections. And, that is exactly what has happened. Although the Rajya Sabha majority still eludes him, but it will come together by April next year.
This takes us to the next set of Predictions.
Annual Predictions for Pakistan – Year of Existential Reality-check
Pakistan is on the verge of bankruptcy. Large amounts of loan payments that are due this year will bring that moment of truth for Pakistan. This also means that Pakistan’s establishment will be more hungry to hit its way out of the whole situation. We had discussed how Pakistan had managed earlier to wriggle out of the crisis because someone used to help its establishment with doles and money. That route has almost been blocked.
When Pakistani forces freed a Canadian-American family this fall held captive by militants, they also captured one of the abductors. United States officials saw a potential windfall: He was a member of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network who could perhaps provide valuable information about at least one other American hostage.
The Americans demanded access to the man, but Pakistani officials rejected those requests, the latest disagreement in the increasingly dysfunctional relationship between the countries. Now, the Trump administration is strongly considering whether to withhold $255 million in aid that it had delayed sending to Islamabad, according to American officials, as a show of dissatisfaction with Pakistan’s broader intransigence toward confronting the terrorist networks that operate there.
As the patience in US becomes thin, Pakistan is digging in further into the hole! When US asks Pakistan to “do more” on its terror network, Pakistan – high on ego and testesterone retorts back saying “No More”!
“It is time Afghanistan and the US do more for Pakistan,” Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor remarked on Thursday while addressing a press briefing on the national and regional security situation.
Referring to the United States’ (US) demands to act against the alleged presence of terrorist elements in Pakistan, Maj Gen Ghafoor clarified again that: “No organised infrastructure of any banned organisation is present in Pakistan. We have fought an imposed and imported war twice in Pakistan and now we cannot do any more for anyone.”
In fact the Army also reminded US that had Pakistan not helped it, the US would have not been able to do anything!
“Whatever we are doing, and we will do, is solely for the people of Pakistan. The aid we received (from the US) was reimbursement for the support we gave to the coalition for its fight against Al Qaeda. Had we not supported the US and Afghanistan, they would never have been able to defeat Al Qaeda,” he added.
“There are no facilitators [of terrorist groups] in Pakistan and we have gone a long way towards supporting peace in the region,” Maj Gen Ghafoor insisted, reiterating Pakistan’s stance on the US’s repetitive demand for the country to “do more”.
Someone didn’t tell the Pakistan Army that the US President is Donald Trump, who takes every little slight very badly. And, to tell him that US was a sitting duck without Pakistan and can go take a hike will not go down well now.
As CPEC teethers with problems due to the terrorism and lack of security, the Chinese are dumping most of the components of the one initiative which most Pakistanis has thought would be their path to growth.
In this situation, Pakistani establishment has chosen to fall back on its old addiction – Terrorism and India-centric attacks. By openly joining with Congress in a bid to upseat the BJP – thinking that there will be no backlash from the current administration – they have taken on another front that will prove very tough to get past. This week, the Free Balochistan signs showed up in Manhattan. Decidedly, the most heavily trafficked time of the year for that place, where everyone gets attention, and where one has seen Indian signs before at different times, it is interesting that Balochistan’s fight against Pakistan is now at the forefront. And this will just be the beginning.
Given the running out of patience of US and India for Pakistan’s machinations, it is time for the forces to come together for the strategic assault on Pakistan that has been delayed since very long. Not just the US, but even India now has done operations inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (legally Indian territory illegally occupied by Pakistan) confidently and successfully without any setbacks. This will continue and grow. We will see more tactical attacks on Pakistan occupied territories and even Pakistan’s own sovereign territory.
One could have been positive about Pakistan, but the way how Kulbhushan Jadhav’s mother and wife were treated in Pakistan and even people who generally talk sense like Hassan Nisar – could not but go along with the Army and ISI line and spin, showed that dissent from the establishment ways is not possible at all. And, this means a large national echo chamber! And, this means that changing the course will be now impossible in the short term.
Late Press: I was to post this article last night, but I couldn’t. And good for that. Because the first day of the New Year set the tone for the year on the lines of what I had already written. Trump started his new year with a tweet rant against Pakistan and its perfidy.
“Do more” was retorted back by “No More”, so Trump gave back his “No more”! And, what do the Pakistanis do? They escalate the fight further against Trump, as the Pakistani Foreign Minister vows to “bare the truth” and show the world the difference between “Fact and Fiction”. One cannot blame Pakistanis for being completely tone deaf!
Annual Predictions on the US: Year of Breakdown of Democracy
US is touted as the greatest democracy – although one can easily argue that. However, it has been the upholder of the democratic values, in however flawed ways it has done. Those short-cuts, those internal lies, those pretentions of what US is and what it thinks it is – will become more pronounced and “in-the-face” in this year. Until now, people have been pretending to be something, when they are not – the Right has pretended that it was for family values and freedom and the Left has pretended that it was for human rights and inclusiveness. Both were mere caricatures.
The seams of pretentions will come apart and internal tumors will show right up.
This year will see either the culmination of the Mueller probe or him coming close to it. Or he could be fired as well. Whatever happens, we will surely witness a major, and I mean a major constitutional crisis in the US!
While the economy does fine for now, it will be impacted going forward.
By the end of the year though, we will see some major breakthroughs in medical sciences helped by the AI and data management. That will be the positive side to this year.
Most of the things we have mentioned may not happen. Some may not even come close. But the world is in a state of change. And we need to acknowledge it. Annual Predictions the way we make at Drishtikone are not based on Astrology or Tarot or Occult. They are based on understanding of the socio-economic world situation. These Annual Predictions test our understanding of the world. Whichever way it is going.
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