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Nepotism’s Chokehold

Nepotism begins with moments of sheer unfairness, from selectively being polite to giving some a greater share of profit purely out of reasons of favouritism and blatant disregard for those negatively affected. Be it a moment where a classroom teacher chooses you to represent the class because she’s your distant relative or an instance where your family’s powerful stronghold gets you out of receiving a punishment you probably deserved. Everybody may not get a get-out-of jail-free card but nepotism is the mechanism that grants this to some people. In our own St Andrean bubble, herds of people choose to carefully assess and calculate the friendships they make as if they are solving a puzzle that ought to give them some monetary profit, if not in the short, definitely in the long run. Friendships become transactional and aren’t made just because you like someone’s company, personality, or sense of self. Hence, relationships themselves are reduced to serve a specific purpose or build a false perception of coolness (which is clearly not your own or that of your mini celeb friend). This is ultimately a shallow understanding of character, one that builds even more superficial bonds.

I’m a staunch believer in information or knowledge being empowering, yet the notion of a few who were dealt better cards than the rest, does leave out some of the best. Statistically, those with fewer familial ties or associations, are in most instances more hardworking than individuals who’ve been spoon-fed their whole life. Most things easily gained are not treated with the same value. Having obtained a job through your familial ties results in a lack of motivation to perform tasks, culminating in a poor performance. Similarly, friendships inspired by such nepotistic thoughts, only exist due to the person’s presence of fame or wealth. Stripped off that, certain friendships would never be made. That said, building connections isn’t a bad thing, rather it’s the calculated motive behind that which becomes problematic. It’s easier to admit you belong to the first category of people who’re extremely friendly, but there’s little that isn’t strategically planned these days. People who indulge in such practices of nepotism, either owe somebody or want others to be indebted to them. Nepotism morphs into a manner of preserving a relationship for a long time as if a bond cannot exist without having a recent nepotistic favor or demand attached to it.

Nepotism is the basic crack in a system that believes in inequality and advocates the myopic ideology that “some people are better than others” by virtue of their ties and connections. This is based on the belief that familial connections or knowing somebody through other close contacts, can vouch for your intelligence in a field. Truth be told, familial ties do not guarantee any kind of inherited aptitude regarding a certain kind of expertise. If anything, it makes any workspace devoid of any form of healthy competition, due to the lax values around which others are forced to conform. No constructive growth can occur in such an atmosphere, leading to a stagnation of mental energy. A space like this becomes equivalent to a nepotocracy, where power is held by a select few while others who may be more capable are pushed to the background. Even though a meritocracy is too utopian an ideal and is practically unachievable, nepotism slides further away from any kind of democratic governance.

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Nick's father tells Gatsby in, "Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all of the people in the world haven't had the advantages that you've had"– a statement that serves as an effective way of introducing the notion that wealth and class is initially obtained by matters of chance. Certain things may be predestined but nepotism is like stating that certain people will always remain better than others – a statement which is blatantly false. Monetary things like wealth are not meant to be chased or used through others, and need to be built independently, in addition to what you already have. Instead of trying to profit from your familial or exterior sources, it’s better to work your way through life yourself. Everyone wants to make their own contribution but some just succumb to the easy way out – be it not working hard because you’ll always have an option to continue the family business or making others achievements your own. Nepotism is taking credit where credit is not due. It’s no excuse to justify nepotism as a gateway to building meaningful connections. Rather it’s a process that perpetuates an endless cycle of nepotistic transactions and contributions which may seem the right thing to do but are detrimental to the progress of any person or institution.

Photo: Unsplash

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