Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Big FAT world of NEPOTISM!

Nepotism simply means the showing of favoritism for relatives or friends based upon that relationship, rather than on an objective evaluation of ability or suitability.

When I hear NEPOTISM, few names flash across my mind instantly.

The much celebrated Mr. M. Karunanidhi, with his clan. I wonder how many of his wives, children, grand-children, nieces and nephews will Indian Politics have to deal with.

Though I admire this guy who is in charge of Youth Congress and National Students Union of India, and the most sought after politician in India, Mr Rahul Gandhi, I cannot help but smile at this irony, “It is undemocratic that the Congress is still led by a Gandhi. But it’s a fact of life in India that success in politics depends on who you know or are related to. I want to change the system”, says Rahul Gandhi.

We have got the Tatas, Birlas, Ambanis, Sarabhais, Bajajs and we have got Indian Politics, so what’s common between them? The answer is all of them are family businesses. It’s an unsaid law in Indian Politics, “Parliamentary seats can be inherited”.

It’s not far away either, when wives, sons, daughters, son-in-laws, daughter-in-laws, step- children, distant cousins, will be on the road, demanding their share of quota on the already quota burdened seats in the Parliament!

Which part of the world has not heard of the Nehru-Gandhi Family?

Who can forget Sanjay Gandhi, his infamous abilities and role during the Emergency!

The most obvious recent example is the rise of Rahul Gandhi, widely described as a “future Prime Minister", despite his lifelong lack of success in academic and professional life, including his failure to graduate from Harvard College, his admission to Harvard also having been seen as a "non-merit exception" courtesy wikipedia.

Well, it’s not just our Indian politics which seems to have caught the nepotism cold; there are big political families across the world also following suit.

The Bhutto family:

The largest and most influential political family in Pakistan.

It all started with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto founder of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). In spite of all the controversies he has voluntarily participated, he still remains the most popular leader of the country. He was profoundly criticized for opportunism and intimidating his political opponents, blamed for slowing down Pakistan's economic progress owing to poor productivity and high costs.

His much celebrated daughter, Benazir Bhutto Pakistan's first and to date only female Prime Minister, and also served twice as the Prime Minister, had faced charges of corruption, including a charge of laundering money through Swiss banks.

The 11th and current President of Pakistan and the Co-Chairman of PPP, Asif Ali Zardari , is the widower of Benazir Bhutto. He is one of the five richest men in Pakistan with an estimated worth of US$1.8 billion, from relatively unknown figure in Pakistan to becoming Benazir Bhutto’s husband, to becoming the President of the country, he has come a long way (seems like one of those rags to riches fairy tale) not to forget the criminal charges, for money laundering and 8 years tenure in jail.

Terrific history isn’t it?

The Ziaur Rahman Family of Bangladesh:

Major General Ziaur Rahman was a charismatic Bangladeshi war hero, politician and statesman. He was the President of Bangladesh from 1976 until 1981 and founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), one of the largest political parties in the country. Ziaur Rahman is considered one of the most important and controversial political leaders of Bangladesh and has been criticized for ruthless treatment of his political opposition.

After his assassination, his wife Begum Khaleda Zia became the head of BNP, and was elected thrice as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. In September 2, 2007 she was detained and later arrested in corruption charges.

Their son, Tareq Rahman, a senior politician was allegedly involved in numerous corruption scandals and was also arrested.

The United States:

United States is no less than the South Asian dynasties.

We have seen the Kennedys, Bushes, Roosevelts, Harrisons.

Politics is not the only field, we have heard/seen the Kapoors, Khans, Bachchans, Roshans, Chopras of the Hindi entertainment world and the Barrymores, Freemans, Streeps of the west.

Nepotism also marks the end of transparency and professionalism, but then why do you think its thriving and prospering? One possible explanation is, nepotism sells, it has commercial brand value and common people come under the spell.

The accumulation of drama, the intense scrutiny, battles for power, hunger for publicity in the family makes the clan all the more visible, so as they say, “You can love them, you can hate them, but you cannot ignore them”.