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n.43 July 2012

It’s time again for our summer issue, which we traditionally devote to in-depth reports and travel writing.
Our cover image is a lead-in to several reports on India, a nation trapped between hyper- modern urges and enduring rural traditions. After years of growth, India’s economy has witnessed a major slowdown. We take time out to examine its present and future. Italian Carlo Pizzati, a longtime Indian resident, supplies a longtime “Open Letter” to the country, in which he sings its praises but also issues cautions.
As always, we pay close attention to Europe, with our “Western Shore” and “Eastern Shore” columns probing trends throughout the continent. Giuseppe Scognamiglio offers a sharp analysis of the strategies being adopted by European Union leaders as they attempt to guide the EU through crisis. Constanze Reuscher examines the role of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who faces both European and domestic challenges.
On a different note, Alessandra Garusi writes about the Berlin branch of Reporters Sans Frontières, which has helped oppressed reporters flee turmoil in the Middle East and Iran. We also look at Nova Gorica and its Italian counterpart Gorizia, which have gone in different directions since the end of communism.
Our “Inner Voices” column, which always has a personal touch, sees a young Greek archeologist weigh in on the trials and tribulations of a country that seems to furnish only bad news.
On the Russian front, Astrit Dakli and Laura Betti visit the maternity ward in the town of Pushkino, coming away with more questions than answers, while Lucia Sgueglia, whom we publish for the first time, reports on the transformation of Grozny. Accompanying her report are wonderful images from acclaimed photographer Davide Monteleone, whose work we treasure.
Another photographer, a young Russian named Igor Starkov, profiles the Siberian wilds of Tuva, where shamanism
is alive and well. Linda Dorigo and Andrea Miluzzi take a look at the life of Christians in Iran, while another photographer, Luigi Baldelli, returns to troubled Kabul nearly 20 years after his first visit.
Elsewhere, Giuliana Sgrena reports from Algeria, Antonio Picasso from Lebanon, and Farian Sabahi from Azerbaijan. We also offer articles on Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Taiwan.
In addition to our usual columns, we welcome a new addition, “Obstacle Course,” by “Corriere della Sera” essayist Antonio Ferrari, which this time focuses on Saudi Arabia and will address the many challenges faced by democracy.

Happy reading and happy summer to all.
Emanuele Bevilacqua

SUMMARY


Contents

The Athenian statesman Solon admonished citizens that being part of a democracy meant picking sides. “When the situation is grave,” he wrote, “voters must get their hands dirty, and every citizen must participate in the debate, let no one remain neutral.”
Democracy lessons from the 6th-century BC can be chastening, since after Solon came Pisistratus, a tyrant.

To revive markets and extricate itself from the debt crisis, Europe must embrace cogent, long-term solutions starting with the centralizing of fiscal policy and the handing over of individual state sovereignty on economic matters to Brussels. 

Spain loans show a different approach.

The deeper the euro crisis, the more precarious the position of incumbent German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who as a result of a Socialist victory in France is facing increasingly bold criticism from the Social Democratic Party and the Greens.   

Thanks to the Berlin office of Reporters Sans Frontieres, a number of Syrian and Iranian reporters have managed to find refuge from persecution in Germany. Though stories they have to tell are chilling, they still miss home.

While women strip and gamblers gamble in Slovenia’s bustling Nova Gorica, residents of neighboring Gorizia, in Italy, rue two decades of missed chances.

Aside from the doom and gloom of numbers, Greek society is on the verge of something considerably more serious than a nervous breakdown. Sucides are up and despair a constant.

Life for Italy’s Roma community remains dire. Makeshift camps, most located in the north, are populated with despairing residents. But some organizations are making an effort to improve conditions and turn the tide.

The Roma Crisis Troubles the EU.

Russia is struggling with low birth rates and the national population is dropping. Though President Vladimir Putin has warned about the trend, the birth rate remains low. But spending time at the maternity ward in Pushkino suggests all is well with the world.

At first glance, skyscraper-laden Grozny glitters and gleams, belying a 10-year war that destroyed more than half the city and exalting the ironclad rule of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov. But dig a little deeper and paradoxes begin to appear.

Le tradizioni e i riti dello sciamanesimo sono ancora vivi e presenti nella vita quotidiana degli abitanti di questo estremo avamposto della Federazione russa, testimonianza di un ancestrale e profondo contatto con la natura e i suoi elementi primitivi, in un legame indissolubile fra il mondo visibile e quello invisibile.

Rich in natural resources, the Central Asia state must pull off a delicate balancing act to maintain its distance from Iran’s powerful Islamic influences. But as a leading intellectual points out, the country’s tradition is secular.

Filipino boom in 2011, Philippines took over from India as the call center capital of the world, employing some 600,000 people. Whether you’re calling to book a flight, secure a theater ticket or demand to know why your TVis malfunctioning, you’re likely to get a Filipino.

Yielding to IOC and global pressure, Saudi Arabia has finally decided to let women compete in the Olympics. Part of the reason is a Saudis desire to play a pivotal role in Middle East affairs. But what’s new, and startling, is a report that the kingdom may not have many years left as an oil exporter.  

Algeria has largely resisted Arab Spring winds. Instead, it has been busy building up oil reserves and cash, to the point that the IMF has asked it for a loan. But beneath this apparently tranquil surface, many complain women's rights have been ignored and are growing skeptical that longtime President Bouteflika Abdelziz has any interest in substantive social  and political change.

When Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaks, the country listens raptly. Though his exact whereabouts remain a mystery, Nasrallah and his party are exerting an ever-growing role both in Lebanon and in the region.

Have contributed to this issue:
Maria Cuffaro
Giuseppe Scognamiglio
Roberto Santaniello
Constanze Reuscher
Alessandra Garusi
Matteo Tacconi
Dimitris Karalis
Marina Gersony
Stefano Bottoni
Luisa Betti, Astri Dakli
Lucia Sgueglia
Igor Starkov
Fariah Sabahi
Francesca Lancini
Antonio Ferrari
Giuliana Sgrena
Antonio Picasso
Andrea Miluzzi
Manuela Dviri
Carlo Pizzati
Luigi Bardelli
Claudia Astarita
Elena Murdaca
Carlotta Magnanini
Simone Pieranni
Alessandra Cappelletti
Francesco Guarascio
 
GUALA