The descendants

Freedom of real self-reliance

There's a flip side to "soft" nepotism, you never know the freedom of real self-reliance.

It doesn't matter how tall your grandfather was you've got to do your own growing." Think of what it feels like to go through much of your life being thought of, primarily, as the offspring of prominent parents. And I don't mean this in any grand dynastic sense, where privilege is relayed down generations, just the mixed blessing of being the second generation in any endeavour. I've seen so many youngish people in professional fields young lawyers, doctors, architects, economists struggle with the large shadow cast by their own parents in the same field. They have this prickly self-consciousness, they're proud of their families but resent its certainties, they worry about seeming derivative and yet can't break away to prove their worth in any other coin. They're often too defensive about their success to fully enjoy it.

At one level, it seems absurd and indulgent to even consider this a problem with their recognisable names and ready-made networks, they have a clear head start. Their career is theirs to squander. But what does the great overhang of parental accomplishment do to you psychologically?

In India, it's hard to even pretend you're self-made, if kindergarten onwards, someone has exerted influence on your behalf. Elite advantage stubbornly perpetuates itself, from the very first point of open competition. Successful, eager parents tend to script every step of your early life, help with internships, recommendations and resume-padding.

And what's more, in many cases, you don't even want to set yourself on some new and uphill path. Your interests often come from the environment you are pitched in, because you know more about something better than your peers do, and have access to a specialised chatter all of which makes you much more likely to choose a familiar career.

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