Over the past few years, the political scene in India has changed from accommodating public constituencies to private, family owned affairs. Indian politics has more or less become a family business for several political parties as well as influential families who believe that if a father or mother is in the Parliament, it is only right that a son, daughter or other relation inherit the former’s seat with time.
This point has come to the limelight in this year’s Lok Sabha elections where every single political party out there has brought family connections on board. This proves that the criterion for choosing a candidate to sit in the Parliament on the people’s behalf has nothing to do with knowledge, experience, merit or even good character. Rather, all one needs to do nowadays to win a ticket to the Parliament is to have a surname that counts.
A study by author Patrick French on the current state of the Indian parliament in 2011 revealed that 100% of the MPs sitting in the parliament are from political families, a fact that is quite alarming and would be considered atrocious in any other country apart from India. According to Mr. French’s report, over two thirds of the MPs in the parliament enjoyed the status of ‘hereditary MPs’.
Mr. French asserted that given the current state of the Indian parliament (including the 2014 elections), it won’t be long before India would be ruled by a hereditary monarch or family.
The Indian voting system is already riddled with holes pertaining to caste and religion based politics. Now, voting on the basis of surnames has become another problem that threatens to wipe out the nation’s rational decision making abilities completely.
Nepotism and corruption are also widely spread across these political families, with several politicians devising very clever plans to keep the cash flowing into their bank accounts. Case in point: rival parties tend to marry of their respective offspring to each other to ensure that they remain rich no matter which party wins the elections.
Congress Vice President and Prime Ministerial candidate, Rahul Gandhi has forever moaned about how Indian politics is being dominated by familial connections. However, he fails to realize one important point. Without his ‘Gandhi’ surname, he would never have made it this big in the political arena.
And if one looks at the list of candidates provided by the Congress for the upcoming elections, you would definitely notice more than a few family members have been given tickets, apparently something that Mr. Gandhi himself has approved.
India’s political field has become a family business for many individuals. Many MPs in the parliament have made the system hereditary by reserving their seats for their family members after retirement.
These strong familial ties of the ruling class also prevent those with non-political background or influential family connections to make it big in politics. Which makes us realize only one thing, if India were to move forward, there is no other option than to severe its familial ties and become a public vocation rather than a family business.