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Friday, September 25, 2020

Explained Ideas: Why Bollywood alone should not be blamed for nepotism

Nepotism is a symptom of the inequality and entrenched privilege in our society and it permeates all sectors, write Kabir Khan and Rohan Sandhu.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: August 13, 2020 8:35:27 am
nepotism, nepotism debate, bollywood nepotism, hindu film industry, sushant singh rajput death, indian expressOur society is full of deep insider vs outsider challenges, write Kabir Khan and Rohan Sandhu. (Getty Images)

Over the past few weeks, the unfortunate demise of a young actor has reignited the debate around nepotism and the pressures on “outsiders” in the Hindi film industry.

In their opinion piece, Kabir Khan (a filmmaker and screenwriter) and Rohan Sandhu (a public policy analyst) write that while much has been said about insiders and outsiders in Bollywood, the reality is that our society is full of deep insider vs outsider challenges.

“We are a feudal society and unfortunately, nepotism and privilege permeate all echelons,” they state. But often the film industry, which also exemplifies all of the flaws and constraints of the society it inhabits, is an easy punching bag.

For instance, cronyism is a defining principle of economic activity, and while entrenched business houses control the nation’s resources, newer entrepreneurs face significant barriers to entry. According to the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business report, India ranks 129 out of 190 countries on the “setting up a new business” parameter.

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High-profile cases of suicides among Indian entrepreneurs such as Sajan Parayil, Vineet Whig and Lucky Gupta, have all pointed to the bureaucratic, regulatory, and financial duress they’ve had to contend with.

This trend is more obvious in politics.

Even before a young professional working in public policy can articulate an interest in politics, a new generation of Thackerays, Scindias, and Gehlots is waiting in the wings. Not only do each of these individuals come with a name recognition, but also a network that allows them to grow faster than any outsider can hope to.

The Indian civil services and judicial system have similarly been characterised by nepotism and favouritism, with appointments being opaque and subjective, and conversations in courtrooms involving inside jokes and banter.

“No conversation on privilege is complete without considering discrimination on the basis of caste, perhaps the most perverse manifestation of nepotism and privilege,” they state.

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