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Why blame Karan Johar, Alia Bhat alone for Nepotism? You and I are part of it too

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

Image Courtesy: FilmiBeat

On the 14th of June, the world woke up to a sudden and utmost tragic news. The boy who got us to relive our world cup victory through his cinematic charm had left us in a heart-breaking and violent turn of events. Sushant Singh Rajput died by suicide in his sixth-floor penthouse apartment in Mumbai's elite Bandra suburbs. He did not leave any suicide note, nothing to implicate anyone or suggest why he would have decided to take such a drastic step. It was shocking and sad, and everyone who had ever watched him on screen or knew him in person was rattled in the most personal way. He was laid to rest at the Vile Parle Pawan Hans crematorium in the presence of family and friends.

A boy with dreams in his eyes had migrated from his state of Bihar and brought immense hope, blessings, and faith to turn the tide of Bollywood in his favor. What was more shocking to the world was that he was suffering from depression and undertook a treatment to that effect. Reports mentioned that he had refused to take his medications for depression and had instead decided to find peace through yoga and meditation for his disturbed mind.

Suicide or death?

The police are investigating his death and are questioning various famous personalities in his inner circle. His closest friends, alleged girlfriend Rhea and few other professionals connect, have also been questioned by the police. But like they say, the public is the most significant jury; social media has decided to give its verdict. They have brutally shunned and shouted the word nepotism from their social media handles. The word nepotism has been doing the rounds for quite a few years now. Bollywood has always either evaded it or endorsed it through various platforms. So how has this whole tragedy turned into a furor against Bollywood bigwigs?

Various episodes of Koffee with Karan have surfaced, which primarily target Alia Bhatt and Sonam Kapoor. In one of the episodes, Alia Bhatt chooses to kill Sushant Rajput in a kill-marry-hook up game. Though it was said in fun at the time, netizens have crucified this action and blasted the actress on her nepotism inducing attitude because she chose to overlook an "outsider." Sonam Kapoor has been lashed out to ask Sushant Singh Rajput, who on the same show during the infamous rapid-fire rounds. Karan Johar has faced the wrath of the public and media and has been named as an accused in a case filed through a petition in Bihar. Salman Khan has been dragged into this controversy through Suraj Pancholi in a surprising and ridiculous story weaving involving Sushant's ex-manager Disha.

There have been reports of filing of petitions against Johar, Ekta Kapoor, and Aditya Chopra and Sajid Nadiadwala. The production house YRF namely Yash Raj Films, has come under intense heat and is being questioned of Sushant being replaced from numerous films by Ranveer Singh and other actors.

With Sushant's tragic and untimely death, the narrative has flipped from nepotism to bullying and back. For the lesser Bollywood buffs, what is the hue and cry about nepotism? Is it right to only crucify Bollywood for exercising it? Are there not other areas of life where we experience nepotism?

Let's understand what nepotism is

Nepotism has a Latin origin and derives itself from the word "Nepos." Nepos means nephew, which translates into all being I the family. A kind of favoritism that is based on bloodline or kinship or heirship. Originally hails from the behavior of the Pope and how he placed his relatives, who were his illegitimate children.

They were placed in the Vatican's high ranks without giving a second thought to their merit, education, or knowledge. The unfair preferential treatment to candidates over actual qualified and deserving ones is termed as nepotism. It is frowned upon and seen as a detrimental practice since they are not skilled enough to handle their position, given their lack of skill.

Nepotism is found everywhere. In political families, education systems, mainly family-run empires, private businesses, etc. are often deemed a corruption of sorts given its unethical nature and course of action. It is considered blasphemy because people are unfairly denied a position they have worked to get and suffer due to nepotism. Nepotism doesn't work in healthy organizations because conflicts, questionable loyalties arise where one relative is placed above the other.

Nepotism is everywhere in our society 

Somehow everyone very conveniently blames Bollywood for nepotism, like they are the only criminals. Why? In Bollywood, it becomes visible, plus the lives and events in Bollywood rule our news most of the time. Due to the fact, the film fraternity is always under the scanner, and they are the most natural and most prominent choices to target for nepotism.

The real villain, nepotism, has caused immense unrest, stagnation, corruption, and biases across industries and working organizations over the years. It has directly impacted the growth and progress of the country as a whole. Instead of blaming Bollywood, let us take a deep dive into where nepotism exists and how it primarily affects our development.

An MBA professional works hard to get his degree. Sometimes by taking a loan or borrowing money from his parents. He is a competent lad who has the mettle to handle a role given to him. Instead, the owner's son becomes the CEO miraculously one day just because he is family. Does family trump competence?

People become doctors by giving more than half their life to their books and studies. Some don't have the moolah to open a clinic or hospital, so have to affiliate or start working in someone's hospital. Decades of service may pass, but finally, it is run and inherited by the doctor's son/ a son who has not even sometimes got admission to a medical college on merit.

Nepotism exists in family-owned businesses too

Nepotism is very prevalent in family-owned businesses. Relatives, known people, references of relatives are placed in prominent positions in the company because of kinship, not merit. Keeping it all in the family may have its advantages, but it has lasting and damaging effects on business. Business starts to lose the support of employees because they don't see a growth curve for themselves. Stagnation and not allowing people to move up the hierarchy is extremely dangerous. When the management focuses on bringing up their own instead of valuing competence and high performance, your overall organizational skill set's caliber starts to diminish.

Regularly, succession is planned with family because of two reasons. One is that they are more trustworthy, and second is that they come at a lesser cost than hiring someone from the outside. The rationale that this is works and is the best way to run a business is a mistake. Capability and competence must be the criteria to put someone in charge instead of the gene factor.

Nepotism starts at home. Every parent who tells his or her child that they have to take the reins of the business when they grow up is planting a seed of nepotism. It automatically tells the child that he doesn't have to prove his competence or capability. Even without it, it's all his, and he need not work toward it. Making your child believe they are privileged and remain that without hard work is incorrect bringing up.

Nepotism is deep-rooted in our culture

Nepotism is not bad if the candidate is actually worthy of being put in the position that he has been given. There are many families that run businesses that ensure their child is well educated and has worked to get a degree before taking over the reins of the company. It also stems from the fact that family money is best protected when no one from the outside can intrude upon it. The best way that someone can protect their assets is by giving it to their own blood. This is the very reason nepotism is thriving in India, and the common man doesn't take up pivotal positions in great organizations despite their intellect.

Image Courtesy: Indian Express

We must learn from our political scenario as well. We have a Prime minister as Narendra Modi who worked as a tea seller. He has broken the stereotype and made a global impact with his capable candor. He has also done it without a family backed dynasty like Rahul Gandhi who doesn't have the sense, but is a prime ministerial candidate. Many Congress leaders would be a better fitment and would receive the votes to run the country. It is a classic example of how nepotism can fail and bring about even the most powerful political dynasties' downfall.

The reason why many star kids are given a chance earlier in life than the rest of the people is because of powerful connections and they are someone’s someone.

Let us, as responsible beings are alarmed and concerned about nepotism in Bollywood and in other dimensions of our life, where it needs to be identified, called out, and most importantly – corrected.    

Written by Anirban Guha with inputs from the New York Times, Filmfare Magazine, Times of India, The Print, Magzter, Mid Day, Quora

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