It needs very little proof that India has invented a brand new model of self-governance by allowing abject nepotism to rape democracy into complete submission.
The self-governance model that we have today should cease to malign the good name of democracy and should be called nepoti-cracy instead.
As political empowerment in an ill-designed and weak system allows amassing of huge amount of wealth by subverting the system, it creates two forces that drive nepotism.
First is the opportunity of further wealth creation that attracts a politician to continue and pass the inheritance of power, but the second and more important one today is the threat of facing the law for all the corruption indulged into if power is lost.
If we look at the political scene of India, stakes are getting high for all the parties not only because they want to generate wealth, it is more so because of the threat of law catching up with them if power is lost.
As technologies and tools of collecting evidences get better, this threat is becoming bigger and not easy to subvert with the standard option of “it is a political conspiracy against me”.
So, this is almost a watershed moment for our nation where politicians are now feeling an existential threat and are thus becoming desperate enough to do anything, including damaging the nation for saving their backs.
In a way, my sympathies are with politicians because they have done what every empowered person, be it a businessman or industrialist or even a professional has done. The problem they have is that their specific model offers lot better earning potential but it comes with a design fault.
Every politician amassing wealth, by default develops a set of enemies who feel that wealth creation by a rival is a force that prevents them from getting power. So, the business of politics defer a bit from other businesses as it automatically earns animosity from opposition.
As Indian politicians are now looking at election almost as a survival threat, we as a nation have reached a dangerous point. The nation-first has now replaced by leader-and-his/her-family-interest-first.
Though the situation is rapidly deteriorating, it is unlikely that masses can correct it by voting for the right person, as the system doesn’t allow right person to stand for election. So, if we think that democratic forces can correct this systemic malaise, we are living in a fool’s paradise.
The system needs correction, and that is possible only by changing the rules of the game.
Nepotism can end only and only if we instil systemic measures that redefine how a politician can participate in government.
The first truth that we need to accept is that politics is not a “seva” (a service rendered free to people out of love and empathy). It is a service against rewards and should start reflecting the idea in how it is rendered. Every political designation needs to be a paid or rather well paid job.
The above idea may take time to be absorbed, but there is one change that can and should be considered as immediate, and that can be borrowed from the second largest and lot more prosperous democracy, i.e. US of A.
We need to fix a tenure and disallow repeat appointment on most of the top jobs. Just as USA disallows its president from running after two terms, we need to do the same for key posts like cabinet ministers, Chief Ministers and, most importantly the Prime Minister.
Such a mechanism in place with instantly transform the political dynamics of the nation. The churn will do good for the system by allowing more people an opportunity to do “seva” if they so wish, and will disallow huge amassing of wealth that prolonged empowerment leads to.
I am not suggesting that this chance will remove nepotism completely.
Even USA has its Kennedys, Bushes and Clintons because human beings across the world prefer to worship a person and not an ideology, but let us admit that we have surnames that can beat this by a huge margin.
It is clear that our hour of reckoning is upon us. We have to find a new arrangement that will make the environment more competitive for meritocracy to rise or our democracy will be lost to the rule of few surnames.
If India can build a well-paid political cadre and offer only a six year once-in-a-lifetime tenure at top posts, we can salvage a good part of democracy that is lost to nepotism today.