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Nepotism: Just a new name?

Nepotism. A word which has been around us for a while but has now swept over our lives like raging fire due to some unfortunate recent events.

Aarti Gahlaut Aarti Gahlaut
New Delhi Updated on: July 11, 2020 13:36 IST
Nepotism, Nepotism debate
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Nepotism. A word which has been around us for a while but has now swept over our lives (Representational image)

Nepotism. A word which has been around us for a while but has now swept over our lives like raging fire due to some unfortunate recent events.

What is Nepotism? Cambridge Dictionary defines it as "the use of power or influence to get good jobs or unfair advantages for members of your own family". In the larger context and for easier understanding, it encompasses special favours bestowed upon close friends as well.

Though the current debate is centred around a specific industry, it isn't and never has been limited to any one sector. We see it everywhere. Public jobs, private jobs, lower-end jobs, higher-end jobs.

People pushing their kin for a job/promotion, ceding position of power only to the offspring, putting in a word within their connections for own kith and kin, people thriving in jobs because of being golf, cricket or football buddies; even running a national-level political party like a family business are all examples of nepotism which may or may not meet our eyes on a regular basis.

If we take a step back from the current affairs, nepotism in it's simplest form is within us as well. We hear ourselves saying things like 'from my village, town, neighbourhood' and hence a softer corner for them.

Connections securing school and college admissions for our children, preferring collaboration with relatives over other vendors, even school going children saying things like Ma'am is his/her mother so they will always get good marks are small but largely prevalent examples which fall under the umbrella of nepotism.

These examples self-justify to an extent - a harmless demonstration of kinship - to try and help the upliftment of those known and around us.

It is also human psychology, and in the ancient times the only way to survival - sticking together and protecting their own. It is a survival instinct wired in us.

However it is when this love for our own goes beyond reasonable limits and morphs into blatant disregard for others, is when it gets problematic. When other people outside our own, no matter how hardworking and deserving, start getting sidelined or get no opportunities at all is when the problem takes a bigger shape.

In the entertainment industry debate, there are people talking about making the parallel world of Netflix and Primes so big that every talent gets it's due. And probably for other larger sectors, there can be reforms/alternate routes that can be pushed into the system over time with innovations and parallels taking charge.

But is it always so easy for every aspiring actor to adapt to TV series because the silver screen is reserved for someone's son? How do you explain to a child who does not get her seat in school or college because someone's grandchild got it? What alternate route does a hardworking person have when his job is given to someone's nephew?

For most of us, when subjected to such a situation, adapting is not an easy choice because a feeling of injustice stays back. For some others, adapting is not even an option due to the sheer lack of available alternatives - for those, the impact of nepotism is life-altering.

There is hence a need to bring about a change in favour of credentials - a change which makes nepotism a positive, harmless word that only means helping and supporting, not snatching. 

For now, there is no ready answer on how this will end because this needs a change in perspective across generations; it has been around for generations and has got only further ingrained in us.

However, being able to separate right from wrong is a matter of conscience and understanding. For most of us, our conscious mind has developed this sense through a mix of education imparted, examples set by family and external exposure (experiences, reading, watching, etc).

And that's probably where the answer lies, in building a series of experiences which shape the conscience of our current and upcoming generations, and build a sense of judgement which pulls us back before caring for kin turns into impairing others.

(Author is a mother, an MBA graduate and part-time research consultant, currently residing in Dubai)

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