Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Are You among "Nero's Guests"?

Think about this:
What occupies/ concerns/ excites you more?

1-a: what is happening/has happened in Nandigram, Singur, Kalinga Nagar?
1-b: performance of Indian cricket team in the World Cup?

2-a: number of civilian deaths in Iraq?
2-b: the soaring/ fluctuations in oil prices?

3-a: farmer suicides across the country (no! they are not happening just in Vidarbha region)?
3-b: the "Retail Boom" in India? The number of Malls, entry of global majors in the industry,

4-a: India's rating on HDI Rank of 127/177?
4-b: India's increasing GDP, its "booming" economy (the BRIC rating), inching to the "achievements" of China (and the impediments that govt policy cause)?

5-a: number of people living on less than $1/day?
5-b: number of billionnaires in the Forbes' list?

6-a: implications of climate change?
6-b: increasing per capita consumption of energy/ materail etc., as a measure of growth?

etc., etc...

Perhaps, one's choices need to be looked in the context of this talk by P Sainath.

In a talk on Neoliberal Destructions - which are uploaded at Google video here (part1), here (part2) and here (part3) - that P Sainath gave in Univ of California , Berkeley, he ends his talk with the Cornelius Tacitus' description of Nero's parties:

Emperor Nero's parties in his garden were attended by all the Who's Who of Rome. Often the the parties were in progress, but then the dusk fell, and night arrived. There was no light around for the guests to continue to enjoy the festivities. Nero came up with a innovative solution to provide illumination: the prisoner and poors were brought and burnt on the stakes party all around the arena to illuminate the garden... Tacitus (The Annals, Book XV, C.E. 62-65 ) noted:

"(they) were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle."

...and the party continued....

Of course, Nero, as most people know, was mad and cruel - and so, his conduct is perhaps not really so surprising - even if it was sensational.

But what about Nero's Guests?

They were, after all, the prominent elites of Rome - the intellectuals, the traders, the artists... sort of the "owners" of Roman culture and prosperity... (one would perhaps find them similar to our contemporary urban eduacated elites in temperaments and aspirations)...

It is important to understand the psyche of people - our own, actually- who could enjoy their wine and food, while the crackling light from burning bodies provided illumination to their delights...

as the party (i.e., the GDP, the Shopping Malls, the brands, GDP, SEZs, etc.) continues...

....So, are you one of the "Nero's Guests"?