Correcting the correctors 1st September 2007
While you’re worrying about the correct use of invaluable words such as “decimate” (“Will’s Words,” August), you might keep a closer eye on your contributors. In September’s “Washington Watch,” Tumbler writes of Alan Greenspan that “the chorus of accusations against him is rising to a crescendo.” Presumably, Tumbler means “a climax,” since “crescendo” in Italian means “increasing,” as all musicians know. If anything can rise to an increasing, I’d like to see a picture of it.
Derek Robinson Bristol
Leaving Baghdad 29th August 2007
I can only praise the courage of Nadia (“Leaving Baghdad,” September) for sharing her trauma, and the more so because she has not concealed her identity. Most of us who have endured similar experiences tend to shrink away from the world in our endeavour to come to terms with our personal tragedies. There is an incredible similarity between what happened to the Hayalis and what happened to my family. The Hunting Club, the mujahedin, the computers, “collaboration” with the US, Shia, ransom, masked men—all are in my story too. I was luckier then Mohammed, however. The payment of a ransom of $250,000 secured my release.
Twelve months after being released, I and my family, now stranded outside Iraq, are trying hard to rebuild our lives. The Hayali story gives me a dose of strength.
Name and address withheld
India’s new middle class 1 14th September 2007
Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad’s essay (September) offers the kind of argument most observers of India would have made until May 2004. At that moment, though, assumptions about the apathetic behaviour of India’s middle class were contradicted by an election which confounded the expectations of most analysts. A BJP government which had celebrated middle-class wealth without helping the poor was beaten by a Congress/centre-left alliance claiming India would only get richer if income inequalities were reduced. In 2004 Congress’s victory was orchestrated by the poor-but-not-destitute whom Ram-Prasad talks about, those whose “lives are most likely to be transformed by state action.” But they were aided by the middle class. In places like Delhi, the BJP was defeated where the middle classes were uncomfortable stepping over street-sleepers on their way out to spend in new malls and supermarkets; happy in their prosperity, the middle class nonetheless don’t like the idea that they are rich at the expense of the poor. India’s last…