The Legacy of Nepotism And How Endless It Seems

Nepotism- a term so fancy, its meaning equally ghastly. 

To favour is easy, and to be favoured is easier. Those that are not a part of this favoritism are the victims of this catastrophe. Nepotism, small or big, often goes unnoticed, or if noticed- evidently ignored. Several monarchies rule over the world of business, politics, and other industries, and their bloodlines are conveniently put next in line for succession and others almost never stand a chance, blocking out possible opportunities. 

Nepotism: The Bleeding Tale Of The Bloodlines 

Finding its roots from the word Italian word “Nepotismo” and “nepos” is Latin for Nephew. Merriam-Webster defines Nepotism as “favoritism based on kinship”. It is an evident form of social phenomenon that favours a relative over someone deserving. It is usually perceived as favouring or protecting a friend and establishing them in a valuable position. Nepotism, favoritism, protectionism, cronyism stand in the same line and are inseparable. The qualities and capabilities of those that are not favoured are at a larger stake. 

To simply put, nepotism is just unpleasant, top-level business. And those that are not influential enough, fall prey to. Business positions, politics, cinema, or other industry. Some of the biggest names in the world are products of nepotistic favours. 

Nepotism fits in with an array of terms such as cronyism, favouritism, influence, bias, partiality, patronage, unfairness, or prejudice. 

Daniel Alarcon, a journalist, novelist, and a radio producer said that “Nepotism is the lowest and least imaginative form of corruption”. It is evident in every field, everybody is aware of it, but issues against it are rarely raised. The problem caused is massive, yet the acceptance of such problem rates really low. 

The phenomenon is flawlessly imbibed in every other industry and is left unnoticed, deliberately. 

Either people shy away from questioning such unreasonable favoritism or are somehow never a cause for concern. Undeniably, no matter how big or small, somehow everybody engages in nepotism at one point or another, from favoring a friend towards a promotion to selecting your sister for a game of football in school, is all forms of nepotism. 

The idea of nepotism has so far been generalized and hence is not shocking to people, and in some cases, people are welcoming of this abnormality. The nepotistic culture is prevalent in almost every cranny of the society. And what falls in the line of sight is mostly that involved with politics, stars, or businesses.

To give it a different dimension, nepotism could be compared to a common cold. There just does not seem to be a terminal solution to this mayhem. But sometimes when greater damages are caused, nepotistic behaviour is condemned. 

The practicing of nepotistic behaviour often hinders growth and affects healthy competition. People with the necessary skills do not stand a chance before the kin of an organization head. The work hence produced from that nepotistically favoured candidate shall be mediocre and can disrupt organizational mechanism, causing losses.

Recent studies also prove that “nepotism makes people feel demotivated, lacking in confidence and alienated. It also hinders competition and innovation. These consequences can weaken an organisation and eventually will impact economic development as a whole.” [1]

The Roots of Nepotism

Nepotism can, curiously, yet very easily be dated back to ancient Greece, in Athens, the city that invented Democracy. The city was mostly led by powerful people who hailed from wealthy, powerful families- The irony! The bottom line, we could place all monarchies and rulers of the ancient world under this same blanket of “Nepotism”. 

The word origin can be traced back to when the Popes of the Catholic church often allowed favours to family members, mostly nephews, as they had no offspring of their own, to be elevated to positions of greater power. Following this patter, Gregorio Leti, an Italian historian, in his book “Il Nepotismo Di Roma”- translated to “History of the Popes’ Nephews”, primarily used the word to exclaim the favouritism involved in the Catholic Church and has been extensively used ever since for describing the phenomenon of “showing of special favour or unfair preference to any relative by someone in any position of power”.[2]

Some sociologists are of the belief that nepotism is merely a “merely an exaggeration of a powerful and primitive impulse to protect our own gene pool- our clan” [3]

It comes with the idea that a family member is better at handling the finances of the household business and could be trusted with it rather than a stranger taking over and changing dynamics. 

Nepotism In The 20th Century

There is not one field that nepotism has not laid its hands on. 

As far as one’s love for their family takes them, could they be blamed for this catastrophe? Wouldn’t we do the same for a family member to push them to a better position? Some primary examples in the modern world are when President Donald Trump appointed his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, as the Advisors to the President, but also the other Trump kids have received favours from their businessman father. Or Tommy Hilfiger favouring his daughter Ally Hilfiger, and many such famous people getting into famous roles rather easily. 

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is also a product of nepotism, but in a harsher and a more brutal way.  Or when John. F. Kennedy chose his own brother Bobby Kennedy as the Attorney General, or the highly dominated South Korea’s corporate culture, run by giant family run conglomerates like Samsung or Korean Air. 

The nepotistic culture stands firm in India as well. Politics, businesses, and cinema are the most conspicuous. The recent death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput stirred the concoction of nepotism being one the reasons behind the actor’s death and many actors with nepotistic backgrounds faced backlash. 

To take note, the Indian Cinema per se, is an epitome of nepotistic people having risen to fame. The deserving and talented such as Sushant Singh Rajput himself, are often not picked to act in movies so as to fit in influential actors or kids of actors. Coming from a middle-class family, with no connections in the industry, Sushant Singh Rajput sure went through a lot of struggles to find himself a spot in the industry, in the end for all of that to go in vain. 

To take a quick scan we can see the Khans and Kapoors reigning Bollywood, while the South Indian turf is played by influential clans such as the NTR, ANR or many more such families. 

Not to forget the conglomerates of the country such the Ambani, Tata, Adani, Piramal, Premji, Mittal, Bajaj, Godrej, or the Birla clans to name a few. A recent study showed that 15 of the top 20 business groups are family-owned.[4]

The tale of the Gandhis in the Indian political arena is an inevitable legacy. Right from Nehru, the family has produced generations worth of politicians up until the present torch-bearer Rahul Gandhi. The idea could be that of creating a mob frenzy over the members of the family and tip the scale of favouritism. Similar are the cases in South India as well, forcing people to believe that the members of the same family shall carry on the legacy of their ancestors. 

The field of law also sees nepotism and a calculated 500 families are said to control the legal profession in India. 

Nepotism only casts opportunities to a fewer number of highly influential people, who more often than not, lack skills for the job offered. It promotes mediocrity and lesser quality of work, while reducing overall productivity, while disregarding skill, potential and knowledge of the deserving. 


The saga is incessant and uninterrupted. Nepotism is the embodiment of an old and a big tree, that stands firm with its roots extending deep and fruit of opportunities only extending to the reach of the influential. 

The question that stands tall is “would the world be a better place without nepotism?” the answer to which, shockingly nobody knows. There seems to be no point of reference to compare.

But it is necessary to give endless opportunities to everyone that is skilful, knowledgeable, and fit for the job, be it someone with influence or someone without it, so everyone stands a chance. 

It also promotes various dangers and unreasonable appraisal of the undeserving often leading the unhealthy work environment. 

What the world needs is a blend equity and equality to pivot the table of nepotism to bring about a radical shift. 

The lack of studies on this social construct is another ambiguous factor to determine if the act itself is as harmful as it seems.


1. Can There Be An End To Nepotism?

Referring to past stories of nepotism and its pathway to the present day, it is hard to say if there would come a day with absolutely no nepotism at all. The lack of study based on this topic also leaves us with lesser solutions or substitutes to this problematic practice, or even no ideas of what the world would look like without nepotism. 

2. How Do Ordinary People, Like You And Me, Deal With Nepotism?

It is ignorance instead of a solution that has been a solution to this problem, and that is what the society has trained us into doing as well. While sometimes questioning the abnormality is one of the ways of battling it, and it might help us straighten the curve of influence as well, ensuring equal opportunity. Striving towards a fairer and equal society is the hope, and if that hope is the same for everyone, that is what will bring about massive changes. The solution lies in people believing that everyone is deserving of every opportunity there is and there being enough ways to accomplish it. 


Nepotism is bad for the economy but most people underestimate it:

Definition of Nepotism:

10 famous business people who benefited from nepotism FAMOUS BUSINESS PEOPLE 

Nepotism in a nutshell

Nepotism: A user’s guide:

In India, 15 of the top 20 business groups are family-owned!

Nepotism is not just a Bollywood problem:

Nepotism in Bollywood: ‘Right or wrong is not the question here, but taking a stand is’: 

Nepotism as a cause and consequence of unhealthy organizational culture:

Can we stop nepotism in the legal profession?

[1] Nepotism is bad for the economy but most people underestimate it-

[2] Definition of Nepotism-

[3] Nepotism: A user’s guide-

[4] In India, 15 of the top 20 business groups are family-owned!-

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