Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, in his response to a question put to him on dynastic politics following his address to students of University of California, Berkeley, said: “Most of the country runs like this.
That’s how India works.” He also went on to list other party heads and prominent personalities who have come to power or position by dint of being born into a particular family. It is a candid confession of a fact that must be acknowledged for what it is worth.
But it cannot and should not be taken to be a generalization of the system as doing so would reaffirm some of the systemic deficiencies that can take the country on the path of regression. However, one cannot but respect reality.
Rahul’s father, Rajiv Gandhi, had also become the Prime Minister with a huge majority in the Lok Sabha. He, as the son of Indira Gandhi, was also a leader due to dynasty. In spite of this fact, and because of his incapabilities, he had been shown the door by the people.
The very first election and subsequent win might be attributed to the advantage of being part of a dynasty. The second time through, people judge solely on merit. Therefore, the claim that dynasty can keep an individual in office in a democracy amounts to saying that the average voter is an idiot. Anyone who has run for any office in life would vouch that the voter is anything but a fool.
Interestingly, no one seems to notice that Prithviraj Kapoor’s three sons namely Raj, Shammi and Sashi, and their umpteen children and grandchildren have stayed at the top of the Bombay film industry since ages.
Similarly, no one complains about GD Birla family from earlier times to Kumarmangalam and his siblings. Many a Lodha must have come and vanished in families such as Dhirubhai-Mukesh-Anil Ambani, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata to Ratan Tata right down to probably the Bikanervala family.
Not only business, but also Sitar Maestro the late Ravi Shankar and his two daughters Anoushka and Norah Jones exemplify dynasty in the music world. Writer Anita Desai’s daughter Kiran Desai is also a renowned literary figure having won the Man Booker Award in 2006.
No one in the US ever complains when movie star John Voight watches the success of his daughter Angelina Jolie in Hollywood. Did we mention celebrated actor Goldie Hawn and her delectable actor daughter Kate Hudson.
Doctors’ children opting for medicine and lawyers’ children inheriting the practice along with a rich library is a common occurrence. This list can go on and on in the history of mankind in all the lands. This is not limited to any one country.
A hunter’s son learns shooting skills from his elders. The family discussions on the dining table invariably influence the young and supple minds of the next generation. Statecraft, it may be presumed, is also a hereditary art where one learns techniques of people management just like kids learn business, music, acting and virtually any trade worth mentioning under the sun.
While one may very easily condemn politicians for their brainless manoeuvrings yet that too is a profession where people search for fame along with fortune with great risk on personal life and property.
In a democracy like India or the US, people have the option to question the greatest and most powerful politicians without batting an eyelid. That may not be the case when it comes to a big business magnate who brazenly plays around with taxpayers’ money. Most likely, some people like to keep their vision away from ground realities thus strengthening their own argumentative character.
This may not be construed as an apology for any individual, least of all Rahul Gandhi. He probably has his characteristic problems. It is not possible for us to visualise how a child would cope with a situation where he watches, in front of his eyes, his big and powerful grandmother, who is also the Prime Minister, shot and killed by her own bodyguards.
Neither are most of us capable of understanding how a youngster accepts the brutal dismemberment of his father by unknown killers. An English adage goes thus — Those who cannot think, judge.
If most of us desist from judging our present Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi, so also it is incumbent that we do not judge only those with whom we disagree. The average citizen has to be encouraged to think and reason out before judging.