Ruling a Banana Republic Does not Require Special Qualifications

Item: Captain John Wright, 58, is retiring as a senior pilot. He has had a distinguished flying career with 35 years of sitting in the left hand seat in the cockpit, much of it of heavies like the Boeing 747s and Airbus 340s. But it’s time that he hangs up his wings and retires from a job well done. Bluesky Air, the airline that Captain Wright served so competently, has announced that on Capt Wright’s retirement next month, his seat will be occupied by his son Jack. Jack will move from his job as a janitor at Burger King to be the chief pilot at Bluesky Air. He will fly the planes that his father flew.

Item: Dr. Lovelace, 62, winner of the Nobel prize in medicine 2002 for his pioneering brain surgery technique, has a daughter, Ada, who works at K-Mart as a greeter in Hicksville, OH. She is very pretty and cute. The Nobel committee has considered the matter in depth and determined that the 2003 Nobel prize in medicine will be awarded to Ms Ada Lovelace. She will be performing brain surgery at the Sloan-Kettering hospital.

Item: Mr Lallu Reddy, 61, the prime minister of the People’s Democratic Banana Republic of Pooristan, was assassinated recently. Mr Reddy’s corrupt governance kept Pooristan among the least developed countries in the world. Following his demise, his son Ballu Reddy, 22, was popularly elected as the prime minister. Ballu will make time from his occupation of womanizing and general debauchery to take up his father’s job of ruling Pooristan.

You know that the first two scenarios are as unlikely to happen as pigs growing wings and flying. Not in the wildest fantasies would it happen that people’s lives are put at risk by giving a job that requires years of hard training to someone’s son or daughter. It never happens that way.

The third scenario, however, is not far-fetched at all. In your average banana republic, it is rather common for the son or daughter of a corrupt tyrant to inherit the job of misruling the country. The only special talent required for the job is that one is especially devoid of all morality and conscience. It is not as if keeping a desperately poor country desperately poor takes any effort. If your father could steal billions without too much trouble, you too can do it. You know how he did it, and so can you. He developed that skill and you got to see how it works. You got to know all the crooked people that your esteemed dad did business with. You inherited all the contacts that he had. That’s perhaps as striking an example of Lamarckian evolution — the inheritance of acquired characteristics — as you can find anywhere.

It would have been a different matter if the prime minister of a country had done a great job of hauling the country from poverty to prosperity. That would be a tough act to follow, and it is unlikely that the progeny of an able leader would also be a great leader. That unlikeliness or improbability gets compounded when successive generations of the great leader’s descendants are considered. Abraham Lincoln, for example, was a great leader. I doubt that his great-grandchildren are anything but average.

Leadership through inheritance is a compelling sign of a poor or a declining nation.

Consider this. Jawaharlal Nehru first, and then his daughter, and then his grandson, and then his grandson’s Italian wife, and then quite possibly his half-breed great-grandson — a succession of inept corrupt people ensuring that India remains impoverished. It’s a job that does not require any special talent; only a marked lack of morality and conscience.

One wonders which came first: corrupt leaders or the poor country. Nehru was perhaps not corrupt. He was certainly incompetent. Incompetent and how. He was not just clueless in this or that. His incompetence was all encompassing. Domestic affairs, international affairs, economic policies, military policies, international trade, social development — you name it and he was a royal screwup. But in all likelihood he was not corrupt.

His progeny did not rise above his incompetency, but certainly descended into corruption. With each successive generation, they sunk deeper into unfathomable corruption. Indira was corrupt but it did not make the newspaper headlines. She had a firm grip on what the public was allowed to know. But when the going got tough for her, she did what the dictators of banana republics do: ruthlessly suppress any dissent.

The level of corruption goes up a few orders of magnitude with each generation. Under Antonia Maino, aka Sonia Gandhi, the current corruption deals are of the order of tens of billions of dollars. During her husband’s rule, it was only in the hundred million-dollar range. One doesn’t know for sure but my guess would be that her son’s reign may push the numbers to hundreds of billions of dollars. India is after all a growing economy, and if someone does not rob the country of its wealth, it is in real danger of getting out of poverty. And if that happens, it would be an unmitigated disaster for the Gandhi family. Their rule depends on mass poverty and ignorance.

But let’s get back to our story. Thanks to her son, Sanjay, Indira exited stage left. The story is complicated. It is said that Sanjay was dictating to her. He was a loose cannon. He started getting on her nerves, it is rumored. It is rumored that one or the other had to go. No one knows for sure but many people believe that she had him killed. So many third world dictators end up in airplane accidents. It’s par for the course, it seems.

Some say that after bumping off one’s own husband, it becomes easier to bump off one’s son. I don’t know. I have never bumped off anyone. I am not married and I don’t have any children.

But anyway, it is remarkable how the corrupt leaders of third world countries meet very sticky ends. It is especially so in the Indian subcontinent. Bangladesh, Pakistan, India. Military coups are routine in the two Islamic republics. In India, if your last name is Gandhi, you are more likely to be a leader and commensurately more likely to die violently. It is like being in the mafia. While you live, you live high on the hog. When you die, you die like a stuck pig.

So back to the question. Which came first: the poverty or the corrupt leaders? I think that they are both involved in circular causation. But the start of the cycle must have been incompetence. Incompetent leaders cause poverty which leaders to corrupt leaders which cause poverty . . .

Talking of circular causation reminds me of a dog chasing its own tail. Mr Manmohan Singh comes to mind.

Well, so that’s that. Thanks to Sudipta for sending me the link to a article in Outlook India. The Princely State of India. If you are interested in the details of the cargo-cult democracy of the rapidly ascending banana republic-dom of India, go read that article.

Remember that running a banana republic requires less talent than running a corner pan shop. In fact, I doubt that Raul Vinci can run a pan shop.

Author: Atanu Dey


17 thoughts on “Ruling a Banana Republic Does not Require Special Qualifications”

  1. “Later in the year, when the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, died in an accident, the local Congress party said 462 people had died of shock or committed suicide in grief. The purpose of this implausible piece of news was to force the national party to appoint his fabulously rich son, Jaganmohan Reddy, in his place. The move failed, and an investigation showed that families of people who had died in different ways were paid Rs 5,000 by local Congress leaders for ‘funeral expenses’, and persuaded to say they were victims of the mass grief.”

    Interesting bit of news in that article!


  2. The most striking feature of Patrick French’s piece is that it is a brilliant work of journalism on nepotism in Indian politics. Of course, nepotism in Indian politics is no news, but French quantified it for the first time, analyzed it in gory detail and brought home its portents for the future. It’s a pity that Indian journalists are simply incapable of producing such quality journalism. Proves agian that Indian media is not only highly politicized and corrupt, but is also embarrassingly mediocre.


  3. It is – actually – not very surprising that the princes/princesses keep coming to power in the political arena. The same happens in business – yes, the private business sector – all over India except for a few enterprises (I can think of Infosys which appears to be going toward professional merit than the Murthy heirs). Maybe this goes to the old notions of the varna-system – but Indian culture has always been “dynastic”. Therefore, no one bats an eye when the dynasties continue in politics. RE: doctors – yes – you can actually find millions of examples in India where the sons/daughters of respected practitioners have simply taken over their ancestral business. Same applies for awards – see for e.g. the film industry, apart from exceptions such a SRK – we still see the Khans and Bachchans and Roshans and Johars and Akhtars continue to win them for sheer lack of opportunity to actual talent. Now if this is happening in the so-called “market-place” – what would we expect different in a utterly rigged market like politics!

    It is not nice at all – but most folks in India actually are comfortable with this notion way more than anywhere in the rest of the world. Until that changes – god knows how – it hasn’t changed much even in the supposedly rapidly changing last decade.


  4. I do not mind nepotism when it is nepotism of intelligent people. But look at the leader of Congress, what qualifications does she have? Some say she was a working class pizza flipper, some say au pair, it is hard to know for sure because India is the only democracy where such things are kept secret, and we are not entitled to know the educational qualifications of a candidate. I do not like the idea of someone who has not even managed to graduate college making decisions requiring sophisticated statecraft. If no other area employs housewives that have never held a job requiring education, how come Indian politics employs them? But this entire family is uneducated, and can’t even pass college when they are sent to college. I think uneducated people making laws is the scariest, because they turn the nation to mirror their mediocrity. I wonder if these people ever look in a mirror and say, hey I can’t even pass college, how am I to make laws requiring intelligence and statecraft and what standard do I set for the nation? I do not think so!


  5. Atanu

    Love your sarcasm 🙂

    I think your choice of examples is wrong, however. A good pilot must be replaced with an equally good pilot. A good surgeon must be replaced with an equally good surgeon. Similarly, a corrupt politician is usually replaced with an equally corrupt politician. Just as a great company needs outstanding chief execs, a banana republic needs corrupt politicians! That’s what we are and that’s what we deserve, don’t you think?

    As always, I must sign off with a formal note of disapproval of the lowly attack on the Gandhi family. I personally think we have a lot to criticize them for without dragging Sonia Gandhi’s country of birth in it. Advani was born in Pakistan but no one calls him a Pakistani or an ISI agent!

    I still think we could (and should) keep it civil.


  6. No one is saying anything bad about them, but simply recognizing that the family has been semi-literate, most members have not had discipline to even graduate college or understand their culture, but determine the lives of hundreds of millions. One has to think, what do these people represent, what ideals do they represent? I think that displayed by the lowest semi-literate orders and their values.


  7. Ashish wrote:

    “As always, I must sign off with a formal note of disapproval of the lowly attack on the Gandhi family. I personally think we have a lot to criticize them for without dragging Sonia Gandhi’s country of birth in it. Advani was born in Pakistan but no one calls him a Pakistani or an ISI agent!

    I still think we could (and should) keep it civil.”

    Agreed. All the lowly attacks and incivility, and choicest invectives should be reserved for RSS and saffron groups, and for Hinduism – but not used for a firangi.


  8. Larissa

    All those criticisms are absolutely valid. My disapproval was particularly for the two comments in this post

    “Under Antonia Maino, aka Sonia Gandhi, the current corruption deals are of the order of tens of billions of dollars.” and

    “In fact, I doubt that Raul Vinci can run a pan shop.”

    Sonia Gandhi IS corrupt and Rahul Gandhi is not good enough to run the country (Antonia and Vinchi are irrelevant). Dragging their country of origin and nationality (assuming that they indeed Italian nationals) takes the focus away from the really serious issue.


    Yes you are bang on!


  9. Kaffir

    RSS and saffron groups have nothing to do with Hinduism. I have tried to get that through many thickheads like you without much luck so I won’t dwell on that too much again.

    Don’t bring Hinduism into disrepute by trying to represent it and we might find a way to coexist peacefully.


  10. RSS and saffron groups have nothing to do with Hinduism.

    And the fake ideals of Congress which has made India a basket case has to do with Hinduism? I think such deracinated thinking like yours has nothing to do with Hinduism…One just hope that the destrcution of the lives of millions in the name of fake democracy and liberalism will be accounted for one day and people will wake up and demand justice for crimes against humanity that has been going on in India in the name of fake liberalism and democracy.


  11. Ashish Deodhar wrote:

    “RSS and saffron groups have nothing to do with Hinduism. I have tried to get that through many thickheads like you without much luck so I won’t dwell on that too much again.”

    If you have tried to get that through and failed repeatedly, it’s you who is thickheaded. Einstein’s quote about insanity would fit you to a T.

    If you repeatedly leave your pathetic and amusing comments on this blog, requesting Atanu to be civil to the worthless firangs you love to brown nose, and still don’t get it as Atanu keeps writing “not civil” posts, it’s you who is thickheaded.

    “Don’t bring Hinduism into disrepute by trying to represent it and we might find a way to coexist peacefully.”

    Do you really think a deracinated idiot like you would scare me? You are already compromised in your outlook towards Hinduism because of your partner’s religion. And if Hinduism is left to be represented by people like you – who are bigoted Hindu haters and आस्तीन के साँप – there wouldn’t be much hope left. Your confused views on Hinduism on other blogs leave no doubt as to what you think of it and how you bring it into disrepute. You hardly have the authority – though you do have the delusion – to tell others whether they can represent Hinduism or not.


  12. What are Indians learning at school? Nothing says the article below, it might be producing the largest numbers of morons at an astronomical rate…You cannot expcet a government run by semi-literates to value education, there is no respect for education in India other than to get a tech job and be well off financially…

    What Are Kids Learning in School? Little, Study Says


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