What can be said about Prime Minister Narendra Modi having risen from his ranks to the position that he holds now? Well, even late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was not born with a silver spoon. Interestingly, to date he remains extremely popular among people at large primarily for the importance he chose to give common people while he was the President. And also for his humbleness and that he did not use his office to promote any member of his family or any close associate. The life pattern of the two and heights achieved by them, though starkly different, stand testimony to minimal role played by dynasty of both in their respective achievements.
But can the same be said about practically majority of Indians? Take a look around. Of course, Bollywood world may be viewed as epitome of role played by dynastic history in prompting many to follow in the path of not just their parents, but grand and also great grandfathers. Kapoor family, traced down the timeline to Prithviraj Kapoor is still very around and active in Bollywood. Yes, the Kapoor-name tag carries great importance in the movie world. However, each member of this family has carved out his/her space primarily on the basis of his/her talent and calibre. The dynasty factor helped only in giving them the first push, but after that each has had to move forward on the strength of his/her own merit.
The same can be said about star families who have been around in Bollywood for more than a generation. Of course, one cannot ignore superstars such as Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Deepika Padukone and many others who took the first step primarily on the strength of their own confidence and credibility. Their success has also made it easier for their successive generations to step into this line. Interestingly, the trend of younger generation choosing to continue the family line, professionally, is visible in most areas of which Bollywood stands out significantly.
Numerous marketing areas spread over towns and cities display this strongly. Most shops, whether of plastic goods, stores of daily-use items, even groceries and so forth, tend to have a photograph of an elderly gentleman framed higher in the wall, with some sign of religious tribute placed before him. This is a symbolic display of the same shop run earlier by him was now being taken care of by his son, grandson or some other immediate relative. In other words, there is nothing astonishing or new about younger ones choosing to carry on business/shop or any other profession that their parents or other immediate relatives were engaged in.
This stands true for roadside vendors too. If you have lived in an area for a considerable stretch of time, you would be quite familiar with fruit and vegetable-sellers who have certain fixed areas. And as these vendors’ children grow up, in addition to studying they start helping their fathers too in their business. This only suggests that continuing the family line is not confined to large industrial houses such as Tatas, Birlas, Hindujas, Ambanis, Godrejs, etc. The dynastic trend is very much visible in other large industrial families and also at smaller levels.
Even journalists, doctors, lawyers, bureaucrats and other professionals are not devoid of similar trends. Of course, majority of these cannot be guaranteed easy success in their respective areas. At most, children of doctors, lawyers and other similar professions — after having acquired the needed qualifications — can be assured of a clinic, nursing homes, even hospital, the needed office and other infrastructure to begin their respective careers. In other words, they don’t need to struggle for setting up these. But this is it. To move ahead and rise ahead, success rests on their own talent as well as the competition they face in their fields. Similarly, however top-ranking a bureaucrat, chartered accountant and so forth can be in his/her field, the same cannot be guaranteed for his children in the same field.
So, however much noise is being about the dynasty issue prevalent in politics, faultline herein cannot be missed. Yes, it is accepted that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has had an easy entry to top ranks within his party. But, practically speaking, it has not been as easy political ride for him as it has been made out to be. Comparatively, he has had a tougher time than his grandmother Indira Gandhi. The stage was set for her, with her growing up watching role played by great politicians, including her own father and husband. Also, competition for the Congress from rival parties was practically minimal compared to what it is now. Besides, Rahul’s father Rajeev Gandhi was pushed into politics. His preference was working as a pilot. Before, Rajeev could totally adjust to politics, he was assassinated. Sonia Gandhi had no inclination to join the political fray, but apparently circumstances forced her into it.
Before making noise about Rahul’s dynasty and his entry into politics, it should be studied realistically. Also, as mentioned earlier, role of dynastic succession is visible in most professions. Why blame only Rahul and his dynasty?
The writer is a senior journalist. She has come out with two books Ayodhya Without the Communal Stamp and Image and Substance: Modi’s First Year in Office...