NEPOTISM

BY: VAIBHAVI MENON

Nepotism is a form of favoritism which is granted to relatives and friends in various fields, including business, politics, entertainment, sports, religion and other activities. The term originated with the assignment of nephews to important positions by Catholic popes and bishops. Nepotism has been criticized since the ancient times by several philosophers, including Aristotle, Valluvar, and Confucius, condemning it as both evil and unwise. Nepotism in India is common in politics, judiciary, business, the film industry, religious circles, arts, industry, and other types of organizations. Many judges and advocates of the high courts and the Supreme Court of India are alleged to be appointed by exercising casteism, nepotism, and favoritism, primarily due to the Supreme Court and the high court appointment process called Collegium which recommends to the President, in a legally binding manner, the names of judges to be appointed or promoted to the higher judiciary. The various judicial services exams are also infamous for these practices. Rahul Gandhi, Former President of the Indian National Congress party, is a descendant of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi.

The Kapoor family, one of the most prolific generational families involved in Indian cinema, have been known for bringing their children into the industry with their endorsements and influence. In June 2020 a fresh debate on nepotism followed soon after the suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, which fans believe was in reaction to efforts by Bollywood insiders to boycott him. Filmmaker Karan Johar, who Rajput had worked with in the Netflix film Drive, was quickly accused of nepotism by actress Kangana Ranaut, with Rajput’s fans calling for a boycott of Johar and his studio, Dharma Productions, as well as of actor Salman Khan and his brothers, who were accused of bullying outsiders in the past. Actors and actresses Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Janhvi Kapoor, Ishaan Khatter, Ananya Pandey, Athiya Shetty, Tiger Shroff, Arjun Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan, all of whom hail from film families, were also widely criticized. The term comes from Italian word nepotismo, which is based on Latin root nepos meaning nephew. 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 sons.

Several popes elevated nephews and other relatives to the cardinalate. Often, such appointments were a means of continuing a papal “dynasty”. For instance, Pope Callixtus III, head of the Borgia family, made two of his nephews cardinals; one of them, Rodrigo, later used his position as a cardinal as a stepping stone to the papacy, becoming Pope Alexander VI. Alexander then elevated Alessandro Farnese, his mistress’s brother, to cardinal; Farnese would later go on to become Pope Paul III. Paul III also engaged in nepotism, appointing, for instance, two nephews, aged 14 and 16, as cardinals. The practice was finally limited when Pope Innocent XII issued the bull Romanum decet Pontificem, in 1692.The papal bull prohibited popes in all times from bestowing estates, offices, or revenues on any relative, with the exception that one qualified relative (at most) could be made a cardinal.

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