Watch This Movie!

11 May

NERO’S GUESTS: The Age of Inequality is being shown at CUNY tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Here are the details:

Thursday, May 12

Film Screening: Nero’s Guests: The Age of Inequality (2009)

Followed by a discussion with Professor Emeritus Joan Mencher (CUNY Graduate Center and Lehman College)

Time: 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Location: Room 9207, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York.

Two hundred thousand (maybe more) farmers have committed suicide in India over the last 10 years. Nero’s Guests is a story about the agrarian crisis and growing inequality in India seen through the work of P. Sainath, Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu, one of India’s largest English-language newspapers. Over the last three decades, Sainath has won several awards including the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award (also known as the “Asian Nobel”) for his “passionate commitment as a journalist to restore the rural poor to India’s national consciousness.” Nero’s Guests is a testament to Sainath’s energy and sense of outrage. He goes deep into the rural areas of Maharashtra, India to cover farmer suicides brought on by debt induced from genetically modified seeds, inflation, western subsidies, and world trade policies that favor large corporations. As he visits the affected families and tries to get politicians to act, we see a society in denial, a lack of social justice for the poor and the gaping wealth disparities in the country. Directed by Deepa Bhatia.

Prof. Joan Mencher is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at CUNY and the chair of the non-profit, The Second Chance Foundation, which works to support rural grassroots organizations in India and the United States on issues of sustainable agriculture. She has worked primarily in south India (and briefly in West Bengal) on issues of ecology, caste, land reform, agriculture, the right to food and women over the last 50 years. Her books include Agriculture and Social Structure in Tamil Nadu: Past Origins, Present Transformations, and Future Prospects (1978) and Mixed Blessings: Gender and Religious Fundamentalism Cross Culturally (1996). She is presently working on two books tentatively titled Let the Women Talk: Women and Rice Cultivation in Three Parts of India and Women’s Lives: Some Kerala Life Histories 1900–1988.

Refreshments will be provided.
Sponsored by the Doctoral Students’ Council and the Department of Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center

Or, if you can’t make it, buy the DVD.

UPDATE: Just after I hit “publish” on this post, I saw that the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice has released a report on this very topic. “Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights, and the Agrarian Crisis in India” looks critically at the suicide epidemic and discusses steps the Indian government can take. For more information, click here.

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