NEPOTISM IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY

Society is characterized by “the survival of the fittest.” Each stage of life is coated with “crab mentality”, as there are thousands of people who look for the opportunity to pull their competitor’s leg.

As the society evolved to be a wealth oriented machine, the concept of “Nepotism” grew up to spread its roots wide enough to curb the opportunities of well deserving candidates.

The term Nepotism has been derived from the Latin word Nepos, meaning “nephew”. It is the practice of giving opportunities based on kinship, based on strong influences and also based on preferences in skin color, looks, sex etc.

This practice dates way back to the era, wherein the relatives of the Popes were appointed on the basis of their name and influence over the meritorious people. Little did they know that this blunder would continue to intoxicate the minds of the powerful and influential people in the current era of “Right to Equality” and “Gender Neutrality?”

 Nepotism is believed to be a natural phenomenon of every social organism of this planet. In Human society favoritism starts with parents favoring their child out of love, teachers favoring their favorite student, friends favoring their friends, in the similar way today, an influential businessman hires his/her relative as an employee, a politician passes his powers to his son/daughter and a Bollywood actor launches his child under a big banner.

In animals, nepotism is witnessed in bees, spiders, ants and termites. , For example a Queen bee, selects individual workers to stay inside or outside the queen’s cell based on her preferential genotype.

It is believed that, favoritism is helpful for survival in the community. In one of the experiments held by Jutta Schneider and her students Jasmin Ruch and Lisa Heinrich from University of Hamburg, Germany, and Trine Bilde from Aarhus University, Denmark, they organized spiders into 2 groups. One group consisting of only siblings and the other only non-siblings. It was observed that Spiders working with their kin were more motivated to share digestive enzymes with the other spiders, allowing them to consume their prey more quickly. The spiders that were related also worked more communally when foraging for food, which benefited the entire group. It was also seen that working with relatives also seems to be important for maintaining harmony as the size of a group increases.[1]

But, is it fair to be so blinded with love and affection towards their preferred group, that the merit of the non-privileged people is ignored totally?

I believe that once the corrupt method of nepotism starts, there is no end to it! It is a form of deadly virus which has got no cure for. Nepotism is so contagious that it is found each and every form of profession, be it politics, business, film industry, medical industry and the list goes on.

This statement can be very well be supported by looking at the situation of our very own India.

India is a country where the very foundation is built on inequality and favoritism. Here the richest 1% hold more than four-times the wealth held by 953 million people who make up for the bottom 70%. The family members of the Congress Party have always been in the position of power by way of Nepotism. 130 Members who got elected in the Lok Sabha 2014 had got political lineage.[2]

3 out of 10 Mps in India are the product of Nepotism.[3]

This does not stop to India! The political and business structure in Indonesia is so rusted with Corruption and Nepotism that many political parties are based on family ties such as Democrat Party and Berkary Party.[4]

 In Banten and South Sulawesi, the governors run their administrations based on family favoritism. Even though these leaders are no longer in power, their political influence remains strong.

 Nepotism in business is another big problem! People are pushed by nepotism not only at the initial stage but also when one tries to strive for higher positions.

It is seen that in every organization, an influential person forms a social group based on his preferences and when the main person shifts to another company, the leader wants the whole group resign to follow that person to another company.[5]

In the US, it is estimated by the Census Bureau that, 22% of sons will be working for the same employer at the same time as their fathers and 13% of daughters will work at the same place as their dads by the time they’re 30.[6]

Sometimes this nepotism turns into the form of groupism, which poses a great threat not only to the new comers but also the senior member of the team.[7] These influential groups are found bullying and harassing the people, making the environment of the workplace miserable.

Nepotism in film industry is no less than a fact in today’s date! Starting from the “Kapoor Family” to South’s film industry, star kids have got hassle free path to be launched in an extravagant manner.

With the birth of Nepotism, there comes another term called as Cronyism, which means favoritism based on friendship. This sort of behavior is seen in day to day life in schools, social meet ups and workplace. But the dark side of this practice intensifies when well deserving people are kicked out of the competition due to lack of internal support.

In the olden days, people never realized the adverse effects of Nepotism! They considered nepotism to be a part and parcel of the fates of the privileged ones, hence nobody stood against such form of corruption.

But today, people not only from Film Industry, but also people from various sectors like corporate field and legal field have raised this issue at a wider spectrum. Today “#nepotism” is on a trend on social media, which is used by 41% of the social butterflies.[8]

However, to a certain extent it is true that the children of powerful people are born with a huge responsibility to work exceptionally. They are bullied and trolled in the social media in case they underperform or hold a different opinion than the audience, hence, it isn’t wrong to say that they have their own struggles.

People believe that by hiring their blood relatives or close ones, it maintains the quality of service throughout the life time of the company. By hiring the family members, the trade secret would remain inside the company, hence, there would be no way for leakage of their secrets. It is believed that by hiring their well known people, there would be surety of loyalty and dedication towards the work.

However, it is wrong to assume that “a Goldsmith’s son will turn out to be a good Goldsmith or a well established Doctor will give birth to a successful Doctor.” The problem of hiring their relatives starts when they start expecting to be paid more than the other employees or when the business conflicts turns into a family problem.

Injecting new entrants other than their family members or relatives makes the company work with new and effective ideas. As the candidates have come up to the position with hard work and required qualifications, they reflect their commitment towards the work for the interest of the whole organization.

In a company called as P Q Corporation, the 2 founding members decided to put an end on the culture of hiring their family members in the 1970s. A decision had to be made whether the company would continue to be an employment vehicle for a handful of family members or if the company would be used to drive shareholder value for the hundreds of family shareholders who were not employed by the company. The founders chose the latter — hire the best people and create wealth for the shareholders. They resigned from their positions of CEO and CFO and became chairman and vice chairman of the company. They hired outside professional managers to fill their former C-suite positions. Other family members left the firm. Due to such strategy, their business widened up to countries like Mexico, US and Canada. As the time passed on, the shareholder value of the company increased at a good pace. It is believed that the success of the company wouldn’t have been possible without the implementation of the said strategy.[9]

The practice of Nepotism and Cronyism not only snatches away the jobs and opportunities of the person, but also the confidence level and interest towards the field of work.

There have been instances wherein people refrain from joining big organizations because they feel that the relatives of the boss may be treated preferentially. We can also take the example of few Bollywood actors who were on the verge of ending their lives or getting into drugs because of the pressure of Nepotism.

Now the question lies whether all forms of nepotism is bad for the system?

According to me, nepotism to a certain extant with right intentions won’t cause any harm to anyone. Sometimes it becomes necessary to handover the powers within their circle to assure loyalty and to maintain the family business for a longer period time. And it is wrong to generalize that every person associated with nepotism is an underperformer or non-deserving.

As Nepotism is a natural tendency, it becomes difficult not to favor their loved ones or to protect their preferred ones. All we want is a world which is controlled by people who are dedicated and qualified and not by those who are built on “Family’s name.”

[1] Nepotism has its benefits when it comes to survival, Phys.org, (October, 26, 2009),https://phys.org/news/2009-10-nepotism-benefits-survival.html.

[2] Urmi Khasnobish, Forget Bollywood, Indian Politics Encourages Nepotism Like No Other Profession, ED, June, 28, 2020.

[3] Sentinel Digital Desk, Nepotism over Society, The Sentinel, June, 20, 2020, 08:35 AM.

[4] Asmiati Malik, Nepotism is bad for the economy, but most people underestimate it, The Conversation, October, 16, 2018.

[5]Arindam Goswami, Corporate nepotism and groupism: What’s HR’s Stand?, HR Katha, (June, 17, 2020) https://www.hrkatha.com/features/corporate-nepotism-and-groupism-whats-hrs-stand/.

[6] Joe Pinsker, Like Father, Like Son: How much nepotism is too much?, The Atlantic, (June 11, 2015), https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/nepotism-mobility-same-jobs-fathers/395567/.

[7] Iibid Pp. 3.

[8] Best hashtags, (May, 02, 2020), http://best-hashtags.com/hashtag/nepotism/.

[9] Stan Silverman, Is Nepotism in the workplace ever appropriate?, bizjournals, December, 05, 2017.

Author –

Prarthana Markod

BBALLB, 3rd Year

Bharati Vidyapeeth, New Law College, Pune