Politics Society

Nepotism in India: A Quick Ride



Nepotism and favoritismcan be seen in each and every sector of the economy. It is an owner’s or manager’s preference for hiring family members (Nepots) rather than unrelated job applicants..Historically, the term originated with the assignment of nephews to important positions by Catholic Popes and Bishops.

Arathi S Nath, Calicut University, 22 August, 2020, 9:50 PM IST

Nepotism and favoritism, in today’s world , can be seen in each and every sector of the economy. It is an owner’s or manager’s choice of preferring to hire family members (Nepots) rather than unrelated job applicants. The word which became most debated after the recent hard-to-believe suicide of the young Bollywood actor, was derived from the Italian word “Nepotismo” which means favoritism[1]. This uncomfortable practice can be very dangerous as it can hinder the harmony and trust of people other than nepots in the whole industry which can result in a stage of recession of the industry. Since Nepotism discriminates against the non family members, it is characterized as detrimental to the society at large. But on the other side, there are people who see Nepotism in a positive sense as well.

Historically, the term originated with the assignment of nephews to important positions by Catholic Popes and Bishops. Since the middle ages and until the late 17th century, some Catholic Popes and Bishops who had taken vows of chastity and therefore usually had no legitimate offspring of their own, gave their nephews such positions of preference as were often accorded by fathers to son[2]

The idea, which has been unwelcomed by many philosophers like Aristotle and Valluvar, has become so commonplace now that it is really hard to recognize nepotism, just because we are forced to accept and move on with them. But at the same time, we can also see that,there are people who conducted studies that try to prove the positivity of the idea, for example, research investigating stewardship in family firms suggests that continuous family ownership can improve firm performance[3]. But does the practice exist only in the circles of business world and Bollywood? Let’s take a quick look,with examples, at the different areas where the practice is being followed in our country.

Existence of Nepotism in different fields

The accusations of the idea, which is considered as troublesome and disruptive by some businesses, can be seen in many kinds of areas, for example, in politics, in organizations, in entertainment sectors and in different professions.

Whether the practice exist in politics?

If the US is known for its presidential democracy and Britain for its parliamentary democracy, then India should be known for its dynastic democracy. When the relative of a powerful figure ascends to similar power seemingly without appropriate qualifications,  the party members and supporters of ten-gets excited and boasts of the party’s dynastic past and dreams for a similar authoritative position in the party, but what actually happens? It often remains as just a dream for the non-nepote supporter of the party. Lets go through the dynastic past of the Congress party.

Rahul has followed in the footsteps of his family by joining the Congress. His great-great-grandfather Motilal Nehru was the president of the party, as were his great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi. His mother Sonia Gandhi has been at the helm of the grand old party for nearly two decades.

Is Congress the only party accused of nepotism? Not at all. There is BJP following just after Congress.

In Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the sons of serving BJP chief ministers are MPs. Dushyant Singh, the son of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, is the MP from Dhaulpur, which his mother represented for many years. Vasundhara’s sister Yashodhara Raje is a minister in Madhya Pradesh. Her mother, the late Vijayaraje Scindia, was an MP from Madhya Pradesh and was among the founder members of the BJP.Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is the son of the late Gangadharpant Fadnavis, who was a member of the state legislative council. His aunt Shobha Fadnavis was a Maharashtra minister.

The regional parties are also filled with dynasties, be it the Samajdwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), National Conference, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and even the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav too has many family members in politics. In fact, when the fodder scam threatened his chief ministership, he brought his wife Rabri Devi in his place. One of his sons, Tejaswi, served as Bihar’s deputy chief minister until recently, another was a senior minister in the state, while his daughter Misa Bharati is a Rajya Sabha MP[4].Please do note that these are just the few of the examples.

What about sports?

Even this field is filled with nepotism.Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister and BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal’s son Anurag Thakur is an MP and had been an office bearer in the BCCI. The highly popular sport of cricket is affected with nepotism, although to a lesser extent, in the form of Stuart BinnyRohan Gavaskar and very recently Sachin Tendulkar.[5]Home minister Amit Shah’s son was appointed as the BCCI secretary[6]

The legal industry is not all that different from these!

It’s a commonplace in this industry that the children of a senior advocate or a Judge would follow his parents’ footprints, the reason for which is very clear- network. Contacts and trust is a key factor as well as a  basic foundation that has to be laid by one practicing in this field. Who knows your worthiness in the beginning, unless your peer group support you. Hence the industry has always been a carrier of the practice.

Nepotism at its peak in the Indian Film Industry

The Indian film Industry has been festered by the practice as well and it has come to light after the unfortunate demise of the young Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The actors and actresses all of whom hail from film families, were widely criticized for their mediocre filmography and quickly lost millions of social media fans and followers within a week. I think this incident can invoke the principal of res ipsa loquitorto prove the presence of the practice in the industry.


The idea, as I had mentioned before, has become normal and it’s a fact that it’s really hard to recognize Nepotism. Every sector of the country including the government has been filled with the practice. The priority of present-day politicians isn’t service to the nation. Often, it is the quest for power that brings them into politics. To hold on to power, the politician finds nothing better than promote their own family.

Until and unless the people elect their representatives on the basis of their qualifications and experiences, until and unless the viewers and audience appreciate and praise the talent and skill of a performer rather than his family background, until and unless, the clients starts appreciating a person’s professional qualifications and skills, rather than his family’s number of years of experience in the field, we’ll not be able to see an end to this disturbing practice.

[1]C17”word origin for Nepotism”, DICTIONARY.COM, https://www.dictionary.com/browse/nepotism

[2]Nepotism, New Catholic Dictionary,https://web.archive.org/web/20070224025607/http://www.catholic-forum.com/Saints/ncd05726.html.

3Peter Jaskiewicz, Klaus Uhlenbruck, David B. Balkin and Trish Reay,“  Is Nepotism Good or Bad? Types of Nepotism and Implications for Knowledge Management”,Jan 24 2013,THE SAGE PUBLICATIONS.

[4]Sunil Gatade, Not onlyCongress, BJP and Regional parties play dynastic politics too,THE WIRE, https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.thewire.in/article/politics/dynastic-democracy-congress-bjp/amp.

[5]Manu Joseph , “Across India, Nepotism as a Way of Life”, The NY Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/12/world/asia/12iht-letter12.html.

[6]Akshita Jain,AmitShah’s SonJaySet To Be New BCCI Secretary And  Twitter Has A Lotof Questions, HUFFPOST,https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/amit-shah-jay-shah-new-bcci-secretary-twitter_in_5da413fde4b06ddfc51.

    • 4 years ago (Edit)

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