Nepotism, Kashmir’s worst enemy!


(The most destructive element in every sphere of Kashmir Society is the widespread nepotism! For any real progress it has not only to be opposed but eradicated)

Most of the ills in Kashmir in every sphere of the society emanate from extensive nepotism. It would be interesting to study the rise of nepotism and its prevalence in our parts. The Cambridge dictionary defines nepotism, as “the act of using your power or influence to get good jobs or unfair advantage for members of your own family”. The Oxford dictionary definition is, “The practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs”.However, the real meaning of the term and its origin is given in Wikipedia, “Nepotism is based on favour granted to relatives 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. The term comes from the Italian word nepotismo, which is based on the Latin word 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 son”.

Well, the most practical physical view of this definition on ground can be seen in Kashmir! Nepotism started in Kashmir almost at the same time as the movement for emancipation from centuries of subjugation started. Political nepotism refers to the act by which political leaders indulge in making their relations, often, sons and daughters as their heirs in assuming the highest offices in a state. However, Kashmir is not the only place where it is exercised. This “disease” is prevalent almost all over South Asia. Dr. Sukarno  and Sukarno Putri in Indonesia; Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos in Thailand; Solomon Bandranaike and Sirimavo Bandranaike in Sri Lanka; Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan; Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh and so on. As regards India, well the Nehru family ruled for almost 70 years! Presently, 100% of Indian MPs under age of 30 are hereditary! Two thirds of Indian MPs under the age of 40 are from political families. Nehru/Gandhi Clan – Congress, Abdullah Clan – National Conference, Amarinder Singh Clan – Congress, Devi Lal Clan – Indian National Lok Dal, Mishra Clan – BJP, Yadav Clan – Samajwadi Party (U.P.), Badal Clan – Akali Dal, Lalu Clan – RJD, Scindia Clan – BJP, Gowda Clan – Janata Dal, Karunanidhi Clan – DMK, NTR Clan – Telugu Desam Party etc. are some of the most popular instances of nepotism in Indian politics. Specifically, nepotism has become a part and parcel of state level politics. Regional parties are observed to have a higher ratio of hereditary MPs compared to national parties.All these sound like successions in a monarchical set up rather than elected parliamentarians or heads of government in democratic countries. Kashmir, of course has not been left behind. We had Abdullahs and now Muftis succeeding each other like in a monarchical set up.

The nepotism in highest political offices circulates down below throughout the government. In turn, it infects the entire civil society.Apart from Government set up and organisations, it has crept into civil, educational, religious and all other organisations, societies and even corporate families. The important positions sometimes get passed on to close relatives or even friends. In a political party normally the best and most capable people should man various positions. Similarly, in a religious organisation, the most learned and religious scholars should be the top leaders. The leadership of such organisations cannot be hereditary! Unfortunately, people always sacrifice principles in order to get some benefits to their own self and their relatives. Due to this widespread nepotism, the ultimate sufferer is the common Kashmiri. He is always taken for a ride by one and sundry! For last seventy years are so, nepotism has been officially encouraged to keep a hold on the political situation. With nepotism in every sphere of the society, it is impossible to get emancipation. If we want things to improve, the first and the foremost task is to eradicate nepotism from every sphere of the society apart from the government. It appears to be a herculean task. Can it be done? Well a beginning has to be made somewhere! In the alternative, we will keep on circling round and round for centuries!

Mohammad Ashraf, I.A.S. (Retired), Former Director General Tourism, Jammu & Kashmir


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