Nepotism and Modi

The word nepotism and the name Narendra Modi do not belong in the same sentence. Just read this piece The Other Modis (Dec 29, 2017 2016) in the IndiaToday magazine.

While the story is very interesting and it does show up as a shining exception to the pervasive nepotism of politicians, I am not too touched by the neglect of one’s family. Family and friends matter because they are our support and our inspiration. Certainly, nepotism is bad but not caring deeply about one’s flesh and blood is not a virtue.

Love, like charity, begins at home. If one cannot deeply love those one is closest to (whether they be family members or not), it is not likely that there is any content in the abstract love for 1.3 billion people. That great Mahatma loved all of humanity (or so he claimed) but those closest to him only felt the whip of a tyrant.

It is not my case that NM should use his political power to elevate (or even help) his family. But nothing stops him from doing what he can do in his personal capacity to help others in his family. He has money for sure. Just like any average person would, he could at least meet them occasionally and if necessary give his family material assistance from his own pocket. Agreed, meeting his family would take him away from his awesome duties but I imagine it would be a source of joy for them.

We all appreciate that Modi is a self-made man but no man is an island. Like the rest of us, he too received help from his family. We are what we are because of the unconditional support of many family and friends. Many gave us help and support even though they themselves were of modest means. It is a moral imperative that we recognize that fact and whenever possible, do what we can to show that we care.

I am in favor of people being virtuous (although I cannot claim to be virtuous) but I am wary of people who appear to be too virtuous and in the case of public figures, I am suspicious of virtue signalling.

That’s the cynic in me. Like my hero Diogenes. (See Diogenes of Sinope, the Cynic, and Learning to Eat Gruel for more on my hero.)

Author: Atanu Dey


2 thoughts on “Nepotism and Modi”

  1. Thanks for linking the India Today article on Modi family. I did not know that RSS members have to take an anti-family oath as they go up in the organization. The story is incredible. Nepotism is bad but to sacrifice immediate family at the altar of anti-nepotism is inexcusable. This is a case of perverted ethics, me thinks. I wonder how popes and cardinals who are in a similar situation at times handle their immediate past family.


  2. Very good observation, and I share your sense of unease about this. I just hope it is a character flaw with no deleterious side effects.

    When Modi visited Santa Clara and Mark Zuckerberg hosted him at Facebook in 2015, there was mutual admiration and back slapping going on. Mark Z. asked about Modi’s childhood, perhaps even knowing about the difficulties Modi and his family faced, since the chai-wallah to PM story was repeatedly in the news. Modi broke down and struggled to regain composure from that point onwards, quickly bringing the function to a close. I found this episode a bit odd as it wasn’t clear what triggered such sharp emotion in Modi, on this stage.

    I think an incorruptible person needs to be partially deranged to have both the fortitude and optimism in tackling the circus show that is India.


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