In the pursuit of progress and development, numerous Asian countries have long grappled with a persistent and destructive phenomenon: the grip of family politics. This deeply ingrained, yet nihilistic practice has undermined the very essence of democracy and entrenched nepotism as the prevailing norm within governing systems. From the Gandhi dynasty in India to the Bhutto family in Pakistan, and from the Hasina clan in Bangladesh to the Senanayake, Jayewardena, Gunawardhana, Bandaranaike, and Rajapaksa dynasties in Sri Lanka, it becomes evident that the political landscapes of these nations have been hijacked by a sense of entitlement and an insidious belief in the divine right to rule. Many of these countries continue to suffer the dire consequences of family politics, emphasizing the urgent need to eradicate this issue in order to unlock the true potential of the Asian century. While India has taken steps towards countering this trend with the election of leader Modi, the roots of nepotism still persist.
One of the most alarming aspects of family politics is the perpetuation of a sense of entitlement among these ruling dynasties. They often view themselves as inherently destined to govern, treating the land and its people as their personal fiefdom. This misguided belief undermines the principles of meritocracy and inclusivity that are vital for a thriving democracy. By monopolizing power and stifling opportunities for fresh talent and diverse perspectives, these family-centric regimes create an environment where political ambition is limited to a privileged few, leaving the majority of citizens marginalized and disenfranchised.
The prevalence of family politics also nurtures a toxic ecosystem of sycophants and opportunists, eager to exploit their proximity to power for personal gain. These individuals infiltrate the very fabric of the state, adeptly maneuvering through situations using cunning tactics and adaptability. For instance, when foreign investors visit these countries in search of opportunities, they often encounter a disheartening experience. They encounter politicians who exhibit rudeness and indifference, creating an inhospitable environment for investment. The investor is then introduced to intermediaries—solicitors or consultants—who claim to facilitate the deal without seeking payment. However, the truth reveals that these intermediaries are merely conduits for bribery, serving as middlemen who negotiate kickbacks for politicians in exchange for project approvals. This systemic corruption discourages genuine investors, eroding trust and impeding economic progress.
In this environment of nepotism and corruption, entertaining visions of the Asian century becomes futile. Such aspirations are nothing more than delusions that distract us from the pressing need to dismantle this network of germs and parasites. In order for the Asian century to become a reality, it is imperative to break free from the shackles of family politics and establish robust institutions capable of delivering justice and accountability. Meritocracy, transparency, and equal opportunities must replace the culture of entitlement and cronyism.
The eradication of family politics demands a concerted effort from both domestic and international stakeholders. South Asian societies must foster a culture of political engagement and civic education that encourages merit-based competition and a commitment to public service. Strengthening legal frameworks, promoting independent judiciary systems, and ensuring the autonomy of key institutions will help shield against the influence of vested interests. Furthermore, international support and cooperation are crucial in the fight against family politics. Diplomatic pressure, collaboration on anti-corruption initiatives, and the promotion of good governance practices can reinforce efforts to break free from the clutches of nepotism and pave the way for genuine democratic progress.
The dream of the Asian century cannot be realized as long as family politics continue to thrive. The entrenchment of ruling dynasties and the accompanying ecosystem of opportunistic parasites hinder progress, undermine democracy, and perpetuate inequality. It is incumbent upon Asian nations to confront this challenge head-on, dismantling the foundations of family politics and cultivating a political landscape that values meritocracy, inclusivity, and accountability. Only then can the region truly embark on a path toward realizing its immense potential and becoming a beacon of progress in the 21st century.