What sort of a mindset did it require for one to pop one more fig into one’s mouth as another human being burst into flames ?
In my first year, the Journalism club screened Deepa Bhatia’s documentary ‘Nero’s Guests’. The documentary talks about the journey of P Sainath, acclaimed Rural Affairs Editor at The Hindu.
The Roman Emperor Nero had held the greatest party ever seen in the ancient world. Everybody who was anybody was there in his party – senators, nobility, and the Roman elite. However, they had a problem. How did you create the illumination necessary for such a gigantic party?
In the beautiful prose of Tacitus, Nero burns the criminals and prisoners of his city at the stake. A group left to burn, ironically, for illumination.
What sort of a mindset did it require for one to pop one more fig into one’s mouth as another human being burst into flames? These were the sensitive elites of the Rome – poets, musicians, artists, and the intelligentsia – but how many of them raised a protest?
To Sainath, the issue was never Nero. The issue was Nero’s guests. Who were they?
Sainath raised a very important question about the mindset of Nero’s guests, having covered farmer suicides for over five and a half years. Every year the number of suicides keeps increasing, yet it does not make it to mainstream media.
This documentary exposed me to the idea of covering rural India, poverty and inequality. It made me aware of what Journalism looks like in a nation where though 70 percent of the people live in rural areas, there are barely any full time rural correspondents. Sainath raises the concern of not covering the issues of this majority.
This documentary greatly inspired me to take up rural Journalism, and make an attempt to not be one of Nero’s guests.
Article by: Sanket Jain (Batch of 2017)
Illustration by : Anwesha Basu (Batch of 2019)