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SurferSpeak: Spectre of family politics

Our culture and psyche is such that it often promotes the family over an individual's talent, writes Nagesh Vishnumurthy.

india Updated: May 15, 2007 17:47 IST

The unceremonious exit of Dayanidhi Maran from the union cabinet shows the shallowness of Indian democracy and how doing the right thing can get one into trouble. Most people in public bury their brains in the backyard and refuse to see the reasonableness of a channel to publish an opinion poll. They show their inability to put things in perspective by recognising the triviality of the poll results and handle things with maturity.

The authoritarianism with which the concerned chief minister's family conducts business of Tamil Nadu is reminiscent of the era when kings ruled this country, a clear indication that any semblance of democracy in the state is a farce. Clearly, the family is in control of the affairs of the state. The situation is similar in Centre where Gandhi family is in control of the affairs pertaining to matters of importance of the country.

In spite of 60 years of democracy it has not come to terms with the true meaning of democracy. The psyche of common man has shown inability to conceive democracy and the real freedom as it is supposed to be. If in Tamil Nadu it's the Karunanidhi family which is handling the affairs of state, in Karnataka it's the Gowda family and in Andhra Pradesh it used to be the family of NT Rama Rao and so on and so forth in other states.

The clout that the family members of important people in public positions seek to wield is indicative of the fact that these people are not professionals and have shown an inability to separate the affairs of family from affairs of the state and general indulgence of both with adequate branding of the families has resulted in vast misconceptions of the role of family in the developmental aspects of society.

The younger members of the family are fed with the illusory contributions of their peers so much so that they honestly start believing that the family rather than certain strong individuals were responsible for all the successes. The speeches by Rahul Gandhi during UP elections is a case in example. The Congress party's single-point agenda in the UP elections was to promote the family and refurbishing the Gandhi brand, since its aura seems to have rusted, by providing the masses with new face and a cause to vote for rather than promise development and take up the real issues affecting the various downtrodden sections of society.

Indian society gives great importance to family rather than individual. A person is often not recognised by himself for his achievements. In most cases the family is attributed to his or her success and gets undue recognition.

Beside every Aishwarya Rai or Shilpa Shetty, who made it on their own based on their talent, would be their moms wielding control over their lives, checking on their decisions and often questioning their own maturity in handling their lives.

Indian society, culture and psyche often promote the family over individual's talent. An adult and matured Stalin, who is more than 50 years, would be a son for Karunanidhi and often would surrender his judgment to that of his almost bedridden 80-year-old father.

Such is our tradition that even if the sons is himself a grandfather, he is still the son to his father and must listen to judgment of elderly person lest you dare to offend, who would in most circumstances, take a decision based on lack of adequate information and based on his traditional perception.

Democracy in India, in spite of free elections and despite being the largest in the world, has a long way to go.

There is an urgent need for greater professionalism in politics, de-linking of family business from political personalities, greater transparency and professional code of conduct for family members so that they do not wield illegitimate power. Rationalism among politicians needs to be promoted so that they see things in correct perspective and take logical decisions for the betterment of society rather than whimsical decisions after being subjected to emotional blackmail by family and thus creating a soap opera for the entire country to watch.

Our surfer Nagesh Vishnumurthy can be reached at

All views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the surfer and do not necessarily represent those of

First Published: May 15, 2007 17:35 IST