When the CM's daughter captained the US marines

When the CM's daughter captained the US marines
Perilla Bhandari-Swartz could possibly be the only Indian woman — a captain, no less — in the US marines. She has seen action in three combat zones, including Iraq, and has a number of awards under her belt like Soldier of the Year (2004), Logistics Warrior and Military Leadership Award.
NEW DELHI: Perilla Bhandari-Swartz could possibly be the only Indian woman — a captain, no less — in the US marines. She has seen action in three combat zones, including Iraq, and has a number of awards under her belt like Soldier of the Year (2004), Logistics Warrior and Military Leadership Award. In Sikkim, though, where she hails from, most people know her as the daughter of the state's former chief minister, Narbahadur Bhandari. The one who didn't follow her father's footsteps but instead chose a different career.

Perilla may be an exception but she has company. There are other children of chief ministers and ex-CMs who have preferred to ignore the pull of political power and go their own way. Incidentally, quite a few have turned to the film industry — which ironically, is another area apart from politics, where dynasty matters. Riteish Deshmukh, once known simply for being the son of Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, is perhaps the most famous example. He is, of course, now slowly being recognized as an actor in his own right.

Then there is Arunodaya Singh, who got noticed in Sudhir Mishra's 'Yeh Saali Zindagi'. Singh is the grandson of former Madhya PradeshCM Arjun Singh. Animation film-maker Sushma Moily, the daughter of former Karnataka CM Veerappa Moily, is another example. As is former Tamil Nadu CM M Karunanidhi's grandson Udayanidhi, who runs a successful film banner, Red Giant Movies.

Although the sons and daughters of present and past CMs may have given up the political path, there is often the supposition that follows them - especially if they take up another high-profile career - that their success may be a rub-off of their famous surname. Deshmukh, for instance, many had sniggered, has been able to sustain for so long in the film industry because of his father's clout.

Brand consultant Harish Bijoor says that there may be an element of truth in the supposition that children of politicians bask in the glory of their dad or mom and shine on, at times at the cost of those in their own professions. "However, this cannot be generalized," he adds. "There are many who are in diametrically opposed professions outside of the political ambit and are very successful. The ones to watch out for, however, are sons and daughters who run businesses which benefit from government largesse."

The flip side of the story is interesting too. For all those who have succeeded in different careers - with or without the blessings of their political papas - there are those who have turned to the family trade after trying their hands elsewhere. Tejaswi, Lalu Yadav's youngest son, after an unsuccessful cricketing career, is now being groomed for a political innings. Even Mulayam Singh Yadav's younger son, Prateek, who had earlier claimed he was only interested in bodybuilding and his real estate business, is expected to contest from Azamgarh soon.

This is not surprising, says Ahmedabad-based sociologist Binod Agarwal. "In the last 65 years, we have created a political caste somewhat like the occupation-based castes that used to exist in earlier times," he says. "If you belong to this caste - that is, if your family has had a successful stint in politics, it is very difficult to turn down the prospect of entering this field. In any case, this is perhaps the few professions which does not require a minimum educational qualification to enter. And, a kin-oriented system like ours often ensures that political baba-log are quickly embraced in the fold."

(Inputs by P Naveen in Bhopal; Naheed Ataullah in Bangalore; Raj Kumar in Patna, and Julie Mariappan in Chennai)