Of the columns I have written that have been negatively received, none has been greeted with more outrage than last March’s “Two Cheers for Double Standards.” The case for a single standard is familiar and easy to make. If you’re in a position either to dispense rewards (a promotion, a bonus, an appointment) or level sanctions, you should do so impartially; that is, without being influenced in your decision by family membership, friendship, religious affiliation, ethnic solidarity or any of the other considerations that can skew judgment. When a comrade and someone in the other camp engage in the same behavior, your praise or blame should be independent of the personal feelings you may have for either. Don’t give your friends a pass you wouldn’t give to your enemies. Don’t give your brother the job if someone else not related to you at all is more qualified.
This single-standard standard — employ a calculus of merit rather than a calculus of consanguinity — asks you to regard ideological/political differences as articles of clothing; they are cosmetic rather than essential; the person is what he is apart from them and it is the person, rather than the accidents of birth or belief or nationality, who merits your respect.
In contrast, the double-standard standard says that it’s not only O.K. but positively good to favor those on your side, members of your tribe. These are the people who look out for you, who have your back, who share your history, who stand for the same things you do. Why would you not prefer them to strangers? In this way of thinking, personhood is not what remains after race, gender, ethnicity and filial relationships have been discounted; rather, personhood is the sum of all these, and it makes no sense to disregard everything that connects you to someone and to treat him or her as if the two of you had never met.
Favoritism – giving more than an even break to your own kind — is not a distortion of judgment, but the basis of judgment. And being impartial to those who are a part of you — through blood or creed or association or profession (think of the thin blue line) — is not to be virtuous, but to be ungrateful and disloyal, more concerned with hewing to some abstract principle of respect for all than with discharging the obligations that come along with your most intimate relations. The particularism that in the one vision is an impediment to right action is, in the other, the key to right action.
I have been making arguments like this since 1979, when I inveighed against “blind submission,” the policy of erasing from submissions for publication all the identifying marks that tell the editors of a journal exactly who has produced the essay they are judging — what position he holds, what graduate program he attended, what mentors fashioned him, what school of thought he belongs to, what work he has produced, what influence he has exerted on the field. The idea is that after knowledge of these things has been put behind a veil (much like John Rawls’s “veil of ignorance”), the editors will be able to make their decisions on the basis of “intrinsic merit” — a merit that can display itself, shine through, without being obscured by the distractions of a professional résumé.
I contended that there was no such thing as intrinsic merit and that merit could be calculated only in relation to those factors the policy of blind submission forbids us from considering. The “pure” or cleansed judgment the policy supposedly fosters, I wrote, “is never available,” not because editors cannot distance themselves from the biases attendant upon their professional histories — biases that incline them to value submissions congenial to their scholarly convictions, much as an employer might value the job application of a relative — but because without those biases, “there would be nothing either to see or to say.”
Over the years I have made essentially the same argument in a variety of contexts — when I wrote against interdisciplinarity and for disciplinary narrowness, against openness of mind and for a mind closed to error, against objectivity and for discrimination, against meritocracy and for nepotism, against formal neutrality and for affirmative action, against independent voters and for partisan zeal, against a politics that is not a respecter of persons and for what I called “rational identity politics,” against wind turbines and for Nimby (Not in My Backyard), against a worship of free speech and for the deployment of censorship (not, it should go without saying, a principled censorship, but a censorship tied to my judgment of the harms produced by some forms of speech).
Now, when I make these arguments, there is a book I can refer to in the hope that its author might become the target of the brickbats usually hurled at me. The author is Stephen T. Asma, and the book is titled “Against Fairness.” Asma is a professor of philosophy and his thesis is that “in the background of our usual thinking about fairness is the assumption of the equality of all mankind — of egalitarianism,” the idea that all persons, not just the persons you feel close to, are worthy of respect. Egalitarians believe that “tribal thinking is uncivilized because it draws its circles of respect narrowly, while ‘higher civilizations’ include the whole human species in their circle of respect.”
There is a history and a teleology here: once human beings lived in a Hobbesian state of nature intent only on satisfying their own desires and, perhaps, the desires of their nearest and dearest; only later did they mature and “slowly learn to care for others” until at the highest reaches of understanding they learn to care for everyone. (Richard Rorty used to say that what we need to do is expand our sense of “us.”)
Favoritism in this story is something we outgrow. Asma tells another story (backed up by studies of biological and psychological development): favoritism is something we grow with; it may begin in the private sphere, but “favoritism can segue into the wider public sphere and do much good there as well.” Asma finds an example in the civil rights heroes who are usually, he observes, celebrated as “fairness fighters,” that is, as persons who oppose discrimination as an abstraction and fight for a principle, not for a particular local outcome. No, says Asma, “Rosa Parks and Susan B. Anthony were not fighting for the equality of all people per se, but for the inclusion of their in-groups.”
So what has been characterized as the struggle to end favoritism and replace it with a universal brotherhood is in fact an effect of favoritism: “Some serious allegiance to one’s tribe … is how anything gets done at the social level — including civil rights,” Asma writes. Although diversity is the banner under which our modern moral crusaders often march, no one has ever fought for diversity, for universal, undiscriminating inclusion; rather, everyone fights for the inclusion of one’s own kind.
Seeing everyone as an “idealized equal” — not as a particularized being, but as an abstract autonomous agent indistinguishable in essence from all other agents – may be the imperative of a philosophical line stretching from Kant to Rawls, but it is not an imperative that does the work of the world. That work is done, according to Asma, by locally situated persons who act not out of a concern for all humanity but out of a concern for that portion of humanity with which they identify: “Do many Jewish people privilege their tribe over the interests of non-Jews? Of course, they do, and why shouldn’t they?”
The answer to that question is the content of the tradition Asma argues against, the liberal secular tradition that stipulates “fairness between autonomous individual agents” (agents who know nothing of one another) as “the defining feature of our morality.” Against this tradition, which has had its run for over 200 years, Asma poses a morality found in “other cultures, immigrant groups and … rural cultures in the United States.”
In that morality — the morality of favoritism — fairness and rights are less important than “loyalty and patriotism, sacred/profane issues of purity, temperance [and] obedience to authority.” Those who subscribe to that morality or, rather, live it out, perform acts of generosity and caring for which they need give no impartial justification. “They bring you soup when you’re sick; they watch your kids in an emergency; they open professional doors for you; they rearrange their schedules for you; they protect you; they fight for you; they favor you.”
For the television episode, see Nepotism (The Office).
Nepotism is based on favour 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 Catholicpopes and bishops. Trading parliamentary employment for favors is a modern-day example of nepotism. Criticism of nepotism, however, can be found in ancient Indian texts such as the Kural literature.
Main article: Cardinal-nephew
The term comes from the Italian word nepotismo, which is based on the Latin word nepos meaning 'nephew'. Since the Middle Ages and until the late 17th century, some Catholicpopes 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 son.
Several popes elevated nephews and other relatives to the cardinalate. Often, such appointments were a means of continuing a papal "dynasty". 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. Alexander then elevated Alessandro Farnese, his mistress's brother, to cardinal; Farnese would later go on to become Pope Paul III.
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 bullRomanum decet Pontificem, in 1692. 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.
According to the ancient Indian philosopherValluvar, nepotism is both evil and unwise.
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.
Nepotism can also occur within organizations when a person is employed due to familial ties. It is generally seen as unethical, both on the part of the employer and employee.
Nepotism at work can mean increased opportunity at a job, attaining the job or being paid more than other similarly situated people. 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, 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." Some businesses forbid nepotism as an ethical matter, considering it too troublesome and disruptive.
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.
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.
On 21 February 2017, President of AzerbaijanIlham Aliyev appointed his wife Mehriban Aliyeva to be Vice President of Azerbaijan.
During the last few decades, the major observance in public politics shows massive employment of "politically suitable" personnel, especially of those with Bosnian-Herzegovian roots and origins. This is due the fact this social and ethnic group considers employing their relatives to be a tradition in places of their origin (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and due to the fact they are extremely numerous in Croatia, this had become a very significant trend. This trend mainly occurs in public administration bodies such as ministries, government institutions, local and municipal administration and in publicly owned companies (City of Zagreb for example, governed by major Bandic for last 17 years, employed mainly members of his political option,who were mostly from Bosnia and Herzegovina). .
The process works like this. The public competition for employment is advertised, but those who govern the process know exactly in advance who shall be chosen on the contest. To make this sure, they disclose the answers on questions that every candidate who applies will be asked - to favoured person. Of course, this way, the favoured person gains the maximum number of points on the contest and gets chosen for the employment.
As for all those others who applied and despite the fact they are more qualified and competent for the job, they get turned down, whilst the favoured person (mainly with Bosnian -Herzegovina origins) gets the job with no proof of any malverzation whatsoever! And this circle of nepotism and corruption goes on and on, and gets wider and larger. It results with numerous incompetent and lazy public employees who gradually advance in hierarchy (thanks to their Bosnian-herzegovian countrymates and when they get on leading positions, they do just the same for their other countrymen).
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.
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.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. 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. 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. All ruling party sons lost, but were appointed into high government positions.
See also: Princelings
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. For instance, Zhang Hui[zh], was believed to have his career "expedited" through the intervention of his uncle, Li Jianguo, Vice Chairman and Secretary General of the National People’s Congress. Hui was made the youngest member and secretary of Jining's Municipal Standing Committee at the age of 32.
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. In 2008 he was voted regional councillor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, the town of which his father had previously been mayor.
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. 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.
Corruption goes hand in hand with nepotism in India. It goes on in government and private jobs both. Nepotism is common in politics, business and in the movie industry. It goes on even in religious circles, arts, industry, and other types of organizations. Many members of parliament and the Legislative Assembly have a generations-long legacy of nepotic allocation of constituencies to their relatives. The Bajaj family is related to the Birla family which itself is related to the Biyani family by marriage. The Kapoor families, and many other Indian movie actors have brought their children into the movie industry with their endorsement. The successful actress Priyanka Chopra (now international) said in an interview that she was kicked out of a movie (which was originally offered to her) because of nepotism. Moreover, dynasty in politics remains. Rahul Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress party, is a descendent of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi & Rajiv Gandhi. Cricket is also affected with nepotism in the form of Stuart Binny and Rohan Gavaskar.
Main article: Nepotism in Lithuania
Romanian Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu's family members "dominated" the country for decades.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.
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.
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.
Nepotism occurred in Spanish Colonial America when offices were given to family members.
See also: Rajapaksa family
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.
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.
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.
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, to test a system whereby traffic lights would turn green if there was an incoming emergency vehicle. As a result, the wedding party took only 10 minutes to pass through the city.
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.
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.
Palm Beach County, Florida schools reinforced nepotism rules as of 2012 to ensure an "equitable work environment".
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.” 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.
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.
Around 30 family members or relatives of President Ulysses S. Grant prospered financially in some way from either government appointments or employment.
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.
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. 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 2017, the president-elect Donald Trump appointed his son-in-law Jared Kushner as a senior adviser to the president  He then announced on 29 March 2017 that his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, would also become an official White House employee.
Both the Clinton and Trump presidential appointments have raised ethical and legal questions about whether they conflict with a 1967 federal anti-nepotism law.
In 2002, after his election to and swearing in as Governor of Alaska, Frank Murkowski appointed his daughter Lisa to the United States Senate seat he resigned from to take office as Governor.
Nepotism was practiced by former 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.[self-published source]
Until his 2017 deposement, President Robert Mugabe was reported to be preparing his wife Grace Mugabe to be the next president of Zimbabwe once he steps down. Vice President Joice Mujuru was previously considered to be the favored successor to Mugabe.
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.
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