If you are not a declared astrologer, then making predictions is dangerous business. If you are one, however, then you can always save your skin by blaming the stars, and of course take credit otherwise. I am not an astrologer, and I still like making predictions.
My predictions are based on my experience, and regular study of the world around. One can, with due practice, decipher patterns and trends that are visible. Variables seem to link up in some predictable ways. And outcomes seem inevitable.
So, here goes!
Barack Obama will grow weak over the next one year. His approval ratings will dip regularly. The dissenting Republican (and Democrats') voices will grow shriller. The structural weakness of the American economy will reflect ever more in his overt gestures of accommodation towards other States, of course, including China. The US economy will show artifical signals of recovering, but fundamentally will slide further down the slippery road of humongous deficits and no concrete plans to plug the gap. If anything goes wrong bigtime, it could be the beginning of the end for his Presidency as well.
China will increasingly grow suspicious of India, and issue dangerously provocative statements every few weeks. The basically robust domestic demand, and Indian politicians' rather strong stand on Arunachal and Pakistan will harden China's outlook on India. Its support to Pakistan will continuously grow, and its entanglement in Nepal and its extremists will grow too. The open-ended support in South Asia's strategic matters offered by US will enbolden China to issue reckless statements. The imminent change of leadership in China will further make it nervous of everything in the world even remotely sounding 'anti-Chinese' and will provoke wild official reactions. The Dalai Lama is headed for seriously troubled times ahead.
Indian industrial growth will remain underoptimised. Due to lack of creation of hard assets fast enough, we will miss out on asset creation possibilities badly. Our slow bureaucratic machinery will kill several percentage points of growth otherwise possible. Remember Ultra Mega Power Plants? 3G auctions? Grand highway projects? Nothing is moving for months. Do we have that kind of time? When our bureaucrats should be working overtime ensuring all possible clearances for big projects, they are busy doing god knows what.
The poor rate of asset creation will badly impact the Indian job market. New jobs will not get created fast enough, as companies will discover ways of generating profits without generating too many new jobs. Many have already discovered costs they were blind to earlier. So, the spectacular episode of solid profit growth without accompanying job-growth will continue over the next one year at least in corporate India. Corporates will use two basic tools - cut process costs mercilessly (without firing too many existing people, although), and Multitask HR. Expect a lot of rationalisation of attitude in the corporate world, as the flab accumulated during the boom years (2003-2007) gets slashed and trim sets in.
Israel will do something really stupid with either Hamas/Fatah or with Iran. It will launch another bloody attack on their colonies, or on Iran's nuclear installations. Either way, it will spark a series of wildly unpredictable affairs. America is growing weaker by the day, and the Israeli Prime Minister has (surprisingly for everyone) shown camouflaged disregard for President Obama's strong advice regarding 'respect' for settling the Palestine issue by creating two states permanently. The wildly popular Cairo speech of Obama has not been backed by ground level action by the US administration, and a great opportunity has been almost lost.
Indian government will launch, and then dither, and then withdraw an offensive against the Naxalites covering 223 districts of the nation. The stupid parochialism of politicians of the affected states will tie down the Home Minister's hands by the incessesant demands for more state level automony in handling the crisis (which they have mishandled for decades now). This fracas will demoralise the paramilitaray and police forces, and we can expect some strong statements from those quarters as well. A beginning has been made by a senior serving Air Force official recently (although in a different context).
There will be no conviction of any corporate honcho in the Global Crisis related scam. The US prosecutors will try their level best to nail culprits responsible for the breakdown of the securitisation markets and the consequent collapse of much of world economic momentum, but will fail in doing so, because of inherent complexity in the way responsibilites are defined in such markets. This will seriously dampen American public's faith in the 'purity' of capitalism (given their penchant for fairness and equity, and their sense of justice).
Food prices inflation in India will continue for some time. There is no respite in sight in the immediate future. It is painful to see no coordinated action on this front.
The HRD ministry in India can see a sudden change of fortunes. The rapid push to gung-ho privatisation (in a backdrop of gloomy world affairs) can backfire, if any serious and important politician takes issue with it. Very interestingly, the Minister has had a free run so far. India does not seem ready yet - at a social level - to digest massive changes to the fundamental fabric of the education "market", and the proposed legistations could spark not just debate, but a lot more!
Copenhagen will be a dud. Except the mandatory formal statement, nothing will come out of it. Another great opportunity lost. Expect nothing for the next 2-3 years at least. The economic cost is just too much for the developed nations to digest, and in the backdrop of a recovering global economy, China will not take chances with stipulations that bind it in any manner whatsoever.
Well, that's about it. Now I wait and watch, and pray to God almighty that some of these never happen.