The Story

Nepotism is a trending word buzzing around nowadays ever since Sushant Singh Rajput’s untimely demise, which led to the biggest debate on that issue ever since the 2014 elections. In almost every industry, nepotism and talent coexist. Nepotism is as old as life. Most parents try to protect and push their progeny so that their genes live forever. It seems imminent. At the same time, the industry perishes without talent and would not be able to survive emerging alternatives.

But how did Nepotism come into existence? As you might know, we are the end products of millions of years of selective evolution, and all of us have been brewed via the same process of Survival of the Fittest. Humans found that in order to survive the harsh world, we needed to pass down our success and wealth, so that our progeny could survive and so that our lineage could thrive, carrying on our names with them. We can see that communities that have valued family relations historically, like the Jews, have shown to succeed more, which led to a series of unfortunate events, but that is not a topic we will discuss today.

And that was the case majorly until the 18th century, a Baker’s son became a baker, a Carpenter’s son became a carpenter and a King’s son got inducted into royalty. Success was transferred down through generations. It gave very little scope for talent to rise, except in the realm of art and music with very limited opportunities. But then, the Industrial Revolution occurred, the Malthusian trap which kept the populace in check broke for the first time in history, prosperity & opportunities were now available to several people in huge numbers like never before. This led to an increase in the demand for ‘Talent’. So, our persisting issues with Nepotism can be attributed to the fact that we are still in the hangover of that “pre-talent” period, which contributed to the majority of our existence. We are born with evolutionary & emotional traits which make us feel that we should provide our progeny with the best of opportunities, even if it may be discriminatory towards other deserving people. When an ordinary person tries to break into a field, he’s actually not competing against other people like him, but actually against the progenies of those people who were successful before them.

But times have changed, and various factors have popped up to lay out a level playing field. The struggle to survive has brought the world’s attention to several talented human beings in recent times. The world has finally come to realize that if they don’t provide equal opportunities for those people, it will perish and will be replaced ceremoniously. There has been an amazing explosion of talent in the past two decades of Bollywood. Sushant Singh Rajput, Kangana Ranaut, Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Ayushman Khurrana, and Manoj Bajpayee rose without a film background. The Kapoors and the Karan Johars are not as relevant as they were before.

Another dimension which we tend to overlook often is that Nepotism may also work indirectly, even without any strings being pulled we can see talented architects rising from families in the construction business, talented doctors rising from doctor families, and successful actors rising from powerful Bollywood families. The reason? even without active encouragement, the children tend to mimic what their predecessors do and build their confidence from their experience.

So, what we can expect is Nepotism is here to stay, be it for good or for the worst, at least for a few more decades until some radical changes occur.