Directed by Dhepa Bhatia (2013)
Nero’s Guests is about Indian rural affairs journalist Palagummi Sainath and his investigation of farmer suicides (see The Ugly Side of the Fashion Industry) in India and the neoliberal policies responsible for them.
Sixty percent of India’s population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Sainath has been one of very few journalists reporting on the brutal effect of neoliberalism and globalization on India’s rural sector – where 836 million people live on less than fifty cents a day.
He specifically blames the corporatization of agriculture, which has driven hundreds of thousands of farmers off their land, and “free trade” policies that allow Europe and North America to destroy local markets with cheap coffee, cotton and other commodities. All to increase the profits of a handful of western corporations.
Thanks to “fair trade” provisions enforced by the World Trade Organization, India exports twenty tons of grain a year to feed European livestock at lower prices than India’s poor are charged for grain.
When Indian farmers are driven off their land, they migrate to the cities for jobs that don’t exist. Since the 2008 economic downturn, more than one million urban jobs have disappeared due to “austerity” cuts.
The film provides poignant close-ups of rural families that have lost family members to suicide. These contrast starkly with cameos of Indian celebrities and their condescending superficiality in addressing poverty.