Cronyism Anti-Hindu sentiment Cultural assimilation

Nepotism is favoritism that is granted to relatives in various fields, including business, politics, entertainment, sports, religion and other activities. The term originated with the assignment of nephews to important positions by Catholic popes and bishops.

Nepotism has been criticized since the ancient times by several philosophers, including Aristotle, Valluvar, and Confucius. For instance, the ancient Indian philosopher Valluvar condemned nepotism as both evil and unwise.[1]


The term comes from Italian word nepotismo,[2][3] which is based on Latin root nepos meaning nephew.[4] Since the Middle Ages and until the late 17th century, some Catholic popes and bishops – who had taken vows of chastity and, therefore, usually had no legitimate offspring of their own – gave their nephews such positions of preference as were often accorded by fathers to sons.[5]

Several popes elevated nephews and other relatives to the cardinalate. Often, such appointments were a means of continuing a papal "dynasty".[6] For instance, Pope Callixtus III, head of the Borgia family, made two of his nephews cardinals; one of them, Rodrigo, later used his position as a cardinal as a stepping stone to the papacy, becoming Pope Alexander VI.[7] Alexander then elevated Alessandro Farnese, his mistress's brother, to cardinal; Farnese would later go on to become Pope Paul III.[8]

Paul III also engaged in nepotism, appointing, for instance, two nephews, aged 14 and 16, as cardinals. The practice was finally limited when Pope Innocent XII issued the bull Romanum decet Pontificem, in 1692.[5] The papal bull prohibited popes in all times from bestowing estates, offices, or revenues on any relative, with the exception that one qualified relative (at most) could be made a cardinal.[9]

Mention in ancient literature

In the second book of the Kural literature, which forms a manual for governments and corporations, Valluvar suggests about nepotism and favouritism thus: "If you choose an unfit person for your job just because you love and you like him, he will lead you to endless follies."[10] According to him, nepotism is both evil and unwise.[1]



Nepotism is a common accusation in politics when the relative of a powerful figure ascends to similar power seemingly without appropriate qualifications. The British English expression "Bob's your uncle" is thought to have originated when Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, promoted his nephew, Arthur Balfour, to the esteemed post of Chief Secretary for Ireland, which was widely seen as an act of nepotism.[11]


Nepotism can also occur within organizations, when a person is employed due to their familial ties. It is generally seen as unethical, both on the part of the employer and employee.

In employment

Nepotism at work can mean increased opportunity at a job, attaining the job or being paid more than other similarly situated people.[12] Arguments are made both for and against employment granted due to a family connection, which is most common in small, family run businesses. On one hand, nepotism can provide stability and continuity. Critics cite studies that demonstrate decreased morale and commitment from non-related employees,[13] and a generally negative attitude towards superior positions filled through nepotism. An article from Forbes magazine stated "there is no ladder to climb when the top rung is reserved for people with a certain name."[14] Some businesses forbid nepotism as an ethical matter, considering it too troublesome and disruptive.

In entertainment

Outside of national politics, accusations of "nepotism" are made in instances of prima facie favoritism to relatives, in such cases as:

Selected examples by country


Anna Bligh, who won the 2009 Queensland State election, has been accused of nepotism by giving her husband Greg Withers a position as the Office of Climate Change head.[19]

Shortly after his appointment as the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney in 2001, Peter Jensen was accused, in an Australian Broadcasting Corporation interview, of nepotism after nominating his brother Phillip Jensen as Dean of Sydney and appointing his wife Christine Jensen to an official position in the Sydney diocese.[20]


In Greece it is common practice for family members of current or former party leaders to be party members and get appointed as ministers when the party is in government.[21] In addition, there have been 3 Prime ministers from the Papandreou family[22], 2 from the Mitsotakis family (1 currently serving)[23], 2 from the Karamanlis family (a 3rd one is currently serving as Minister of transportation).


On 21 February 2017, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev appointed his wife Mehriban Aliyeva to be Vice President of Azerbaijan.[24]


Over the past decade, criticism has been growing over the creation of political dynasties in Belgium, in which all of the traditional political parties have been involved. This phenomenon has been explained by the fact that prominent party members control the ranking of candidates on party lists for elections and a candidate's place on a list determines whether or not he or she is elected. Another justification for the phenomenon is the importance of name recognition for collecting votes.[25]

Claims of nepotism have been made against Bruno Tobback, the son of senator and former minister Louis Tobback, a member of the Flemish socialists, became the Belgian federal government's minister for the pensions and environment at 35 in 2005.[26] Alexander De Croo, the son of former speaker of the Belgian parliament Herman De Croo, ran for the leadership of his father's party Open VLD at age 33.[27] Finally there is the example of Maya Detiège, the daughter of former mayor of the city of Antwerp Leona Detiège, who herself is the daughter of the former mayor of Antwerp Frans Detiège.[25] Among other examples are former minister Freya Vandenbossche and senator Jean Jacques De Gucht, being the daughter and son of respectively former minister Luc Vandenbossche and former minister Karel De Gucht.


Prime Minister Hun Sen and senior members of Parliament, are also known for their hand in getting family members into government positions. In the 2013 Cambodian parliamentary elections, at least eight candidates standing in the upcoming July election are sons of high-ranking Cambodian People’s Party officials.[28] All ruling party sons lost, but were appointed into high government positions.


For the past 3,000 years, nepotism has been common in China's clan and extended family based culture. Confucius wrote about the importance of balancing "filial piety with merit". The clan-based feudal system collapsed during Confucius' lifetime, yet nepotism has continued through the modern age.[29][30]


In October 2009, Jean Sarkozy, the second son of the President of the French Republic Nicolas Sarkozy, was poised to become the director of the major EPAD [fr] authority despite lacking any higher education degree and professional experience.[31] In 2008 he was voted regional councillor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, the town of which his father had previously been mayor.[32]

In September 2009, rap-producer Pierre Sarkozy, the first son of then-President Nicolas Sarkozy, asked SCPP [fr] for a financial contribution of around €10000 towards an €80000 artistic project. Because he was not a SCPP member, the request was automatically rejected. Pierre Sarkozy then went to the Élysée which led to an Élysée aide contacting the SCPP, and SCPP president Marc Guez assuring the issue would soon be favorably resolved.[33][34] According to Abeille Music [fr] president and SCPP member Yves Riesel, however, this would not happen as SCPP's financial help has been restricted to members only for months.[35]


Corruption goes hand in hand with nepotism in India. It goes on in government and private jobs both. Nepotism is common in politics, judiciary, business and in the film industry. It goes on even in religious circles, arts, industry, and other types of organizations. Many members of Parliament and various Legislative Assemblies have a generations-long legacy of nepotic allocation of constituencies to their relatives.[citation needed] Many judges and advocates of the High courts and the Supreme Court are alleged to be appointed by exercising casteism, nepotism[36][37][38] and favouritism, primarily because the Supreme Court and the High Courts uses a non-transparent undemocratic appointment process called Collegium[39] which recommends to the President, in a legally binding manner, the names of judges to be appointed or promoted to the higher judiciary. The various judicial services exams are also infamous for these practices.[40] The Bajaj family is related to the Birla family which itself is related to the Biyani family by marriage.[41] Moreover, dynasty in politics remains. Rahul Gandhi, Vice-President of the Indian National Congress party, is a descendent of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi & Rajiv Gandhi. Data shows since 1999, the Congress has had 36 dynastic MPs elected to the Lok Sabha, with the BJP not far behind with 31 dynastic MPs.[42] The highly popular sport of cricket is also affected with nepotism, although to a lesser extent, in the form of Stuart Binny, Rohan Gavaskar and very recently Arjun Tendulkar.[43][44] Home minister Amit Shah's son was appointed as the BCCI secretary. [45]

Growing nepotism in the Indian film industry (Bollywood)

The Kapoor family,[46] one of the most prolific generational families involved in Indian cinema, along with many other Indian film actors,[example needed] have been known for bringing their children into the industry with their endorsements and influence for decades.[citation needed] In June 2020 a fresh debate on nepotism soon followed the suicide[1][2][3] of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, which fans believe was in reaction to efforts by Bollywood insiders to boycott him.[47] According to former Member of Indian Parliament, Sanjay Nirupam,[48] Rajput was ostracized by the film fraternity despite being an accomplished actor.[relevant? ] Filmmaker Karan Johar, with whom Rajput had worked in the Netflix film Drive, was quickly hailed as the flagbearer of nepotism by actress Kangana Ranaut, with Rajput's fans calling for a boycott of Johar and his studio, Dharma Productions, as well as of actor Salman Khan and his brothers, who were greatly accused of bullying outsiders in the past.[citation needed] Actors and actresses Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Janhvi Kapoor, Ishaan Khatter, Ananya Pandey, Athiya Shetty, Tiger Shroff, Arjun Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan, all of whom hail from film families, were also widely criticised for their mediocre filmography and quickly lost millions of social media fans and followers within a week.[49] Responding to allegations of nepotism against her, Sonam Kapoor sparked controversy with a tweet on Father's Day, with trolls calling her out for delivering poor films in the past few years.[50][51]


Since the first democratic elections of 1948 and subsequent elections the field of politics has been marked by a handful of families who have controlled the four major political parties which exist to this day. They are often referred to as the "modern dynasties" of Mauritian politics such as the Duval, Bérenger, Curé, Uteem, Mohamed, Boolell, Ramgoolam and Jugnauth families. For instance the Boolell family's involvement in politics started with Satcam Boolell in 1955 and he paved the way for his son Arvin Boolell, nephews Satish Boolell, Anil Gayan, Sanjay Bhuckory and son-in-law Sushil Kushiram. The Duval dynasty started with ex-Lord Mayor and minister Gaetan Duval, followed by his sons Xavier and Richard as well as grand-son Adrien. Lall Jugnauth was the first of his clan to enter politics in the 1950s and he was followed by his cousins Aneerood and Ashock as well as nephew Pravind. Abdool Razack Mohamed who migrated from India in the 1930s became Lord Mayor and minister and his son Yousuf and grand-son Shakeel were also elected and served as ministers.[52]

Following the electoral defeat of the Labour Party in 2014 ex-Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam was arrested on suspicions of money laundering and conspiracy. A police raid of his house exposed several safes containing brand new bank notes to the value of Rs 220 Million rupees, exclusive credit cards and prescription medication tablets. His girlfriend Nandanee Oogarah-Soornack, accompanied by the ex Prime Minister's daughter Xara, had escaped Mauritius to her castle in Parmes, Italy a day before the proclamation of election results with an estimated Rs 800 Million rupees. Attempts to extradite her back to Mauritius failed.[53] Nandanee's humble beginnings as a divorced working class political activist and her rapid accumulation of private wealth with the help of Navin Ramgoolam was closely examined by the press and investigators. It was revealed how she collected millions of dollars through companies set up as monopolies of food outlets at the only airport in Mauritius.[54] [55][56][57]

After the December 2014 elections the new government instigated criminal proceedings to recover about 1,000 acres (1,150 arpents) of state-owned land which had been allocated to the activists and allies of the ex-PM Navin Ramgoolam under his Labour government since 2005. The legal documentation was lodged with the State Law Office (SLO) and Central Criminal Investigation Department (CCID) is also involved in the inquiry. The principal recipients of the various lots of Crown land were Arya Samaj activist and Labour Party activist Suryadeo Sungkur (beachfront land for his restaurant Ritum Coffee at Trou Aux Biches), Lekram Nunlall (Tarisa Resort), Navin Unoop (Voice of Hindu and Vijay Om Hamara)[58], Corporate Hotel Ltd (30 arpents since 2009), British American Investment (BAI) Dawood Rawat's subsidiary Tucson Ltd (20 arpents), Dhanjay Callikan (4 arpents in Balaclava for the brother of Dan Callikan, Navin Ramgoolam's former adviser and former head of Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC)), Sandranee Ramjoorawon (also known as "Sandy" the cousin of Navin Ramgoolam who received 7.3 arpents in Palmar for an apartment complex via company Dream Spa & Resorts Limited). Sandranee's husband Rajiv Beeharry, a trusted adviser of Navin Ramgoolam was also appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mauritius Post and Cooperative Bank (MPCB). Tommy Ah-Teck received 19.7 arpents at Albion Beach for the constrution of a brand new hotel through his company Insignia Leisure Resorts Ltd. Ah-Teck's company Gamma renovated and extended the house owned by Nandanee Oogarah-Soornack, the girlfriend of ex-Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam. Another of Ah-Teck's company (Lottotech) was granted its gambling-house permit by Navin Ramgoolam. Labour Party Treasurer Deva Virahsawmy's company Midas Acropolis was also granted 31 arpents of Crown land at St-Félix after the Labour government cancelled the development permit previously awarded to a businessmean from Reunion Island. Prior to teh December 2014 elections the ministry held by Deva Virahsawmy awarded approved the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for land clearing of the 31 arpents in preparation of the development of a new hotel. Within the harbour precinct state land was granted to Beta Cement which is a subsidiary of Betonix which is owned by Veekram Bhunjun, who is the brother of ex-minister Rajesh Jeetah's wife. Bhunjun was also awarded 12.5 arpents at Petite-Rivière-Noire via his company Western Marina.[59]

Despite having been defeated at the 2014 General Elections Maya Hanoomanjee became Speaker of the National Assembly as she is the niece of Sarojini Jugnauth, the wife of the then Prime Minister Aneerood Jugnauth who led the MSM-PMSD government. In 2015 Maya's daughter Naila Hanoomanjee was also appointed to the newly created position of CEO of the State Property Development Company. In 2018 was appointed as CEO of Landscope Mauritius, another state-owned corporation.[60] Maya's other daughter Sheila Hanoomanjee was involved in the Biscuit Gate scandal in 2017 when it was revealed that her company was allocated the contract to supply tinned biscuits to various state-owned organisations and municipal councils. The tins also had misleading labels "Made in UK" when in fact they were produced by a local Mauritian baker Esko.[61]

Until mid 2020 Alain Hao Thyn Voon's construction company PAD & Co Ltd was awarded a string of major contracts such as the new airport control tower, new weather radar at Trou aux Cerfs (financed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Shimizu Corporation, renovation of premises of Bank of Mauritius, renovation of sites for the Jeux des îles de l’océan Indien 2019, rehabilitation of land at Fort George and Fort William, rehabilitation of the coast line of Cap Malheurueux (awarded by Ministry of Environment and Mauritius Port Authority (MPA) and expansion of the containers terminal. The largest government contracts which were also awarded to PAD & Co. Ltd have been the renovation of Port Louis Waterfront, Rs 486 Millions out of the Rs 2.5 Billions contracts issued by National Development Unit (NDU) for road upgrades, and the new Harbour Cruise Terminal in Port Louis worth Rs 669 Millions awarded to Pad & Co Ltd by Mauritius Ports Authority. The same company has even been awarded major contracts for the upgrade of the navigation channels at Port Mathurin, Pointe LA Gueule and Oyster bay in Rodrigues.[62] The company's owner Alain Hao Thyn Voon happens to be the son of Philippe Hao Thyn Voon, president of the Olympic Committee, and very close to the MSM regime.[63] Following the St Louis gate scandal and discovery of fake bank guarantees Pad & Co. Ltd went under voluntary administration.[64]

In June 2020 MP Eshan Juman revealed details of a contract between Ministry of Land and Housing and a private firm called Smart Clinics Ltd. The firm is partly owned by MSM Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) Ismaël Rawoo, his mother and his brother. The lease of 60 years on 2 acres of prime beachfront state-owned land in Grande Rivière Noire, in the exclusive precinct of Tamarin, Mauritius in Black River.[65] The plot is near Le Morne Anglers' Club and has a panoramic view on Le Morne Brabant mountain. The Rawoos have signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with a South African company called Two Futures to develop this land. The existing decrepit hotel (Island Sports Club) which was built on the 2 acres when the Khedarun family held the lease will be demolished and replaced. As part of the deal PPS Rawoo's family will acquire the lease from the Khedarun family for Rs 15.05 Millions and will onsell the lease to South Africans (Two Futures) for Rs 250 millions, thus generating a profit of around Rs 235 Millions (USD 6 Million) for PPS Rawoo's family.[66][67]

In August 2020 the 75-year old retired school teacher and father of Attorney General Maneesh Gobin was nominated as Chairman of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute (MGI) and of the Rabindranath Tagore Institute (RTI). Maneesh Gobin was elected to Parliament within the ruling MSM government in 2014 and 2019 and his father V. Gobin was elected once in 1987.[68][69]A week earlier the brother of MSM Minister of Civil Service Vikram Hurdoyal was nominated as Chairman and President of the Mauritius Shipping Corporation Ltd (MSCL), in addition to being a Director of State Bank of Mauritius. The new nomination will allow Rishikesh Hurdoyal to receive an extra Rs 54,540 per month, as well as an additional Rs 10,125 per month as entertainment allowance, company car with chauffeur and 245 litres of fuel per month.[70]


Romanian Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu's family members "dominated" the country for decades.[71][72] Elena Băsescu, the daughter of President Traian Băsescu, was elected in 2009 to the European Parliament, despite the fact that she had no significant professional or political experience.[73]


Singapore's government has been the target of numerous charges of nepotism, with several members of the Prime Minister's family holding high posts. The family members dispute the charges as they arise.[74]


Juan Antonio Samaranch Salisachs, son of Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from 1980 to 2001, has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 2001, and his daughter, Maria Teresa Samaranch Salisachs, has been president of the Spanish Federation of Sports on Ice since 2005.[75]

Nepotism occurred in Spanish Colonial America when offices were given to family members.[76]

Sri Lanka

Former President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has been accused of nepotism, appointing three brothers to run important ministries and giving out other political positions to relatives, regardless of their merit. During his presidency, the Rajapaksa family held the ministries of finance, defence, ports and aviation, and highways and road development. The president's brother, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, was given the post of Defence Secretary. He also controlled the armed forces, the police and the Coast Guard, and was responsible for immigration and emigration. Rajapaksa appointed his brother Basil Rajapaksa as minister of Economic Development. Together, the Rajapaksa brothers controlled over 70% of Sri Lanka's public budget. Mahinda Rajapaksa's eldest brother, Chamal Rajapaksa, was appointed as the Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, and has held many other posts before, while his eldest son, Namal Rajapaksa, is also a member of the parliament and holds undisclosed portfolios.[77][78]

Others include: his nephew, Shashindra Rajapaksa, who is the former Chief minister of Uva; one of his cousins, former Sri Lankan ambassador to the United States, Jaliya Wickramasuriya; and another cousin, Udayanga Weeratunga, who is the former ambassador to Russia. Dozens of nephews, nieces, cousins, and in-laws have also been appointed as heads of banks, boards, and corporations.[78]

United Kingdom

The Marquess of Salisbury, who was Prime Minister for three separate occasions from 1885-1902 for a total of approximately 14 years, appointed his nephew Arthur Balfour as Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1887 and later as Prime Minister in 1902. This is supposedly the origin of the phrase Bob's Your Uncle. [79]

In February 2010, Sir Christopher Kelly, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said that more than 200 MPs used Parliamentary allowances to employ their own relatives in a variety of office roles. He suggested that the practice should be banned.[80]

In 2005, Councillor Ann Reid of York arranged for all nine sets of traffic lights on her daughter Hannah's wedding route through York to be switched to green for the five-car convoy. As a result, the wedding party took only 10 minutes to pass through the city.[81]

North Yorkshire Police's Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell was disciplined by the IPCC in 2011, but refused to resign, after admitting that he assisted a relative through the first stages of a recruitment process.[82]

Many Northern Irish politicians employ family members. In 2008, 19 elected politicians of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) directly employed family members and relatives constituted 27 of its 136 staff.[83]

Boris Johnson, the current Prime Minister was accused of nepotism having appoint his brother Jo Johnson to the House of Lords, having previously also appointed him to his Cabinet as Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. [84]

United States

Palm Beach County, Florida schools reinforced nepotism rules as of 2012 to ensure an "equitable work environment".[85]

In December 2012, a report from the Washington Post indicated various nepotism practices from the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia's Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), including one family with five members working for the MWAA. One of the reasons given by the associate general counsel to defend the alleged nepotism was "if [the employees are] qualified and competed for [the positions] on their own, I don’t see a problem with relatives working in the same organization."[86] The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Congress pressured the MWAA to resolve practices of nepotism. Authority employees are no longer allowed to directly or indirectly influence hiring or promotion of relatives, as documented in their ethics policy.[87]

In 2016, Philadelphia 76ers chairman of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo named his son Bryan Colangelo his general manager without a thorough search for the position.[88]


Around 30 family members or relatives of President Ulysses S. Grant prospered financially in some way from either government appointments or employment.[89]

John F. Kennedy made his brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps and his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, Attorney General.[90]

In 1979, Bill Clinton, within weeks of being newly elected as Governor of Arkansas, appointed his wife Hillary to chair of the Rural Health Advisory Committee.[91] In 1993, newly elected as President of the United States, he again appointed his wife to chair a Task Force on National Health Care Reform. In 2013, Bill appointed his daughter Chelsea a member of the governing board of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative.[92]

The Trump family

In 2017, President Donald Trump appointed both his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his daughter Ivanka (married to Kushner) into advisory roles to the president.[93] Neither Jared nor Ivanka take a salary, and "advisor" is not an official tax-paid government employee position. In 2020, President Donald Trump appointed his son Eric Trump's brother-in-law, 35-year-old Kyle Yunaska, to the position of NASA Deputy Chief of Staff. Yunaska holds an MBA (2009) and a 2007 Bachelor of Science in Management and Physics, both from East Carolina University, where he was a cross-country competitor. Yunaska is a paid government employee.[citation needed]


Current (since 1995[94]) US court rulings have held that the White House itself does not constitute an "agency" for the purposes of adhering to existing anti-nepotism laws on the books.[95]


Nepotism is known to be practiced by President of the Venezuela National Assembly, Cilia Flores. Nine positions in the National Assembly were filled by Flores' family members, including a mother-in-law, aunt, 3 siblings, a cousin and her mother, and 2 nephews.[96][97]


The late Robert Mugabe was reported to be preparing his wife Grace Mugabe to be the next president of Zimbabwe while he was president.[98] Vice President Joice Mujuru was previously considered to be the favored successor to Mugabe.[99]

Types of partiality

Nepotism refers to partiality to family whereas cronyism refers to partiality to an associate or friend. Favoritism, the broadest of the terms, refers to partiality based upon being part of a favored group, rather than job performance.[100]

See also


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