How bad is nepotism in India

General election in IndiaBetween progress and nepotism

They stand there like memorials, on an area the size of a football field between the main street with the small shops and the railroad tracks: several empty, two-story houses, ruins. Gulbarg Society is the name of this place in Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat in northwest India. A sad place.

"This was my brother's house, this is the living room, this is the kitchen."

Qasim leads through the buildings, the traces of the fire can still be seen everywhere - the traces of the massacre. Twelve years ago, thousands of angry Hindus slaughtered and burned around a hundred people, chopped off their arms and legs, and raped women and even children. It went on like this for hours. Qasim lost 19 members of his family. They died just because they were Muslim. Only Rafiq, one of his sons, survived. Rafiq is a thin man with hard features, he wears sunglasses even in the shade.

"I still have all the pictures right in front of me. We drank our morning tea, then the mob came and besieged us. Even police officers threw stones into our houses. Then they shot."

At that time, a former member of the Indian parliament also lived in the Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad. Most of the residents sought protection with him. The politician pleaded for help on the phone: in New Delhi from the Indian government, from the Chief Minister of Gujarat, i.e. the prime minister of the state. Nobody responded. It seemed as if the state had simply let the attackers have their way. The MP died. Rafiq, who sought shelter on the roof of a neighboring house, later did not recognize his dead wife and children.

"They doused all of them with acid. When we tried to turn the bodies over, we suddenly had an arm or a foot in our hand. We couldn't identify them."

The Prime Minister of Gujarat, who apparently let this happen at the time, is called Narendra Modi. A man who primarily supports the interests of the Hindu majority and whose BJP party is therefore called "Hindu nationalist". For the fact that the state police are said to have fueled the day-long massacre with around 2,000 deaths, Modi never assumed political responsibility. His BJP party friends prefer to point to a terrorist attack that Muslims had previously carried out on a train full of Hindu extremists. The attack triggered the serious unrest. So far, they haven't harmed Modi, on the contrary. In fact, he's the big favorite for the post of Prime Minister of India.

Not far from the Gulbarg Society, behind a main street, is a kind of construction yard with two small, dusty factory buildings. The company "Maniar" in Ahmedabad can assemble everything that municipalities need for waste disposal, mostly sweepers, cranes or lifting platforms. Mohammed Maniar, the junior, leads through the company and proudly shows his machines.

"With this gripper here you can, for example, unclean sewers and deep potholes. People have done that up to now. But it's dirty and inhuman work."

The main evil is corruption

The Maniars are Muslim entrepreneurs, and their company was attacked by a mob in 2002. But she has recovered. Maniar is successful all over India and even exports to Africa and the UK. But their business is not easy. The rupee exchange rate has collapsed, which makes importing spare parts more expensive. The Indian economy is dragging on, the order situation has been better. And, almost worse, many customers are Indian municipalities - and thus Indian civil servants.

"They always come up with new problems as soon as we have delivered. Always new complaints about the product."

Or, in other words, to get Maniar cranes down, they collect bribes. Corruption is considered a major evil in India.

Mohammed's uncle Iqbal and his father Shafee run the traditional company. In their offices there are photos on which they receive prizes for their inventions. Narendra Modi can also be seen in the pictures. The Maniars haven't forgotten what happened in 2002. But they will still give Modi their votes. Modi has made Gujarat a model state, a successful economic location. That is how the Maniars see it.

Narendra Modi, the man with the neatly trimmed gray beard, who always looks so serious, divides India. For some he is a devil who hates Muslims and incites the peoples and religious groups of India against each other. Muslims make up around 15 to 20 percent of the population in India. For the others, however, Modi is the doer who makes unbureaucratic decisions about large projects, thereby luring brands like Tata, BASF and Ford to Gujarat, creating jobs and, above all, he is someone who is not considered corrupt.

On the other hand, many Indians accuse the ruling Congress Party and its eight coalition partners of lack of planning and blame them for the crisis that is paralyzing the country. The current growth of four to five percent is not enough to create enough jobs for the ten million or so young people who flock to the labor market in India every year. Inflation is high, especially food prices are rising. Investors are withdrawing their money, they too are looking at all the corruption scandals in New Delhi with horror - for example in the issuing of mobile communications and mining licenses. Indian politics has long been regarded as pure nepotism. This bad reputation is currently attached to the Congress party in particular.

If the opinion polls are to be believed, the government camp is facing a historic election debacle. But is it possible to write off the Congress Party? She has ruled India almost always since it gained independence from the British.

(picture alliance / dpa - Jagadeesh Nv)

The tiny village of Umarpur is part of the constituency of Rahul Gandhi. The man with the dimples is the young, attractive face of the Congress party and is supposed to be head of government, as is his family tradition. The 43-year-old Rahul Gandhi is the son of the murdered Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the grandson of the also murdered Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the great grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru - the first Prime Minister in independent India. The Nehru Gandhi family is the glue between Congress and voters like Harish Chanda. He is believed to be the wealthiest resident of Umarpur. Harish owns a tiny piece of land on which he grows vegetables. The 37-year-old has heard of the corruption in distant Delhi, but he just shrugs.

"I don't care about the election campaign. If I love someone, then I love someone. And I love the Gandhis. I choose with the heart. Modi doesn't interest me. Congress is the mother of India. My parents and grandparents always have the congress party too." chosen, nothing else is possible for us. "

Time seems to have stood still in Umarpur. Only people from the lowest castes live here. The traditional caste system assigns every Indian his place in society from birth. The social hierarchy has become somewhat more permeable over the years, but not in villages like Umarpur. Here the caste determines everyday life and voting behavior. Almost all of the villagers are day laborers like Lakpata. The gaunt grandmother is happy when she earns a little more than one euro a day for her toil.

"We have always been farm workers here. We work so that we can eat three times a day. We are poor, but we love Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party. The family built roads and power poles for us too."

But of the 250 families who live in Umarpur, only a few are connected to the electricity grid because the electricity is too expensive. Most of the houses are made of adobe, cow dung, and straw. Toilets are missing. There are four hand pumps for the water supply. The children only go to elementary school, if at all. Although developments have avoided Umarpur, grandmother Lakpata reminisces in fond memories.

"Indira Gandhi was a strong leader. She gave us food, she gave us water, and she protected us. She gave us Rajiv and Rahul. I saw Rajiv around here with us. He came with him Airplane. Rahul was still very young back then. "

"We will make sure Rahul Gandhi loses"

During the election campaign, the congress party presents itself as the guarantor of a harmonious welfare state that treats all citizens equally, regardless of caste or religion. The party stands for the right to food and the right to education. Women like Lakpata get rice, flour and oil from the state food program. But is that enough?

In the neighboring village of Pandit Purua, almost 50 men have gathered in the village square and complain about the Congress Party. Women are not to be seen here anywhere. Pandit Purua is also in the middle of Rahul Gandhi's constituency. But in contrast to Umarpur, only rich farmers from high castes live here, like 30-year-old Hari Prasad Divedi.

"We're going to make sure Rahul Gandhi loses. The Gandhis always won this constituency, but that's over now. Indira and Rajiv Gandhi used to do a lot for agriculture, that's why we chose them. But the last decade is easy nothing happens - and now Modi is promising us change and development. The new Gandhis only come to us during the election campaign, then they disappear again. "

Rahul Gandhi's constituency is located in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, or UP for short. If UP were independent, it would be the fifth largest country in the world, comparable to Brazil. So if you want to come to power in Delhi, you absolutely have to score points in UP, in the country where the majority of India's billion people still live. The example of the village of Pandit Purua shows: The wind of change is blowing here too, but not nearly as strong as in the cities.

The common man's party takes on

How many people, poor and rich, educated and uneducated, are fed up with the big parties, their nepotism and corruption, can be seen in the political heart of India, in the government district of New Delhi. The Aam Admi party, the "party of the common man", has established itself in a narrow, multi-storey building. 20 men are sitting in the front yard discussing, they wear white skull caps with "Mai hoon Aam Admi" in Hindi, which translates as: "I am an ordinary man". On the veranda, Pramod is looking at an application for membership. He can't read, but Mahesh explains everything to him. Mahesh is a pensioner, with his cap and features he looks like Nehru, the founder of the state. Mahesch was previously in the Delhi tax authorities and is now fully committed to the new party. Pramod, on the other hand, is a day laborer from Bihar, one of the poorest states in India. He is currently working on a construction site outside of Delhi. It was a long way for him to get to the headquarters of the Aam Admi party. Delhi is a megacity of 20 million people and Pramod is poor. He just can't afford a trip to the city center. But here, at the Aam Admi party, it flourishes.

"Ha, the others just wrap us up with their campaign speeches, they pay us 100 rupees to listen to and vote for. Then they treat us like lepers for five years. But the Aam Admi party gives us a voice, that's why I join them. Long live the revolution! "

Pramod talks himself into a rage. Mahesh sometimes taps him gently on the shoulder to slow him down.

"People like him are coming to us en masse. All people who have had enough of the system. We are totally transparent. We don't invite people or pay them for it. People come voluntarily and stay here to help."

The Aam Admi party members are the political rebels in India. You have unsettled the system. They are against corruption, against nepotism, they want to break down the barriers between religions and peoples and demand low electricity prices. Her boss is called Arvind Kejrival. He studied at an elite university in Delhi without chasing big money. He became a tax officer and then built an organization that fought for greater transparency. Kejriwal even received one of the most prestigious awards in Asia for civil engagement. In 2012, new corruption scandals led to mass protests. Kejriwal then founded the Aam Admi party.

In November, the Aam Admi party finally shocked the political establishment. In the state elections in the capital New Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal won over 30 percent of the vote, more than the Congress party. That was enough to immediately become Prime Minister. But Kejriwall didn't care about the office. He carried the protest into the streets and tried to push through an anti-corruption law without the approval of the central government, as the constitution actually provides. Because the BJP and the Congress Party did not take part, he resigned after 49 days, celebrated by thousands of supporters, including Mahesh.

The time-honored Presidency College of Calcutta, the mega-city in eastern India, is located almost 1,500 kilometers east of the Aam Admi party headquarters. The facade of the magnificent colonial building is crumbling. Graffiti and brushed messages whitewash the scars. On the white wall at the entrance to the main building of the university it says: "You won't achieve anything alone, stand together!" Dibyayan and a couple of friends are crouching on the floor studying statistics. But there is always time for a brief assessment of the Indian election marathon. For Dibyayan it is the first parliamentary election.

"We want a policy that does not put ordinary citizens on the chain and forces them to follow the political elite. The living conditions of the little man in India must improve drastically. Politics must convince, it must not force anything. We want each other No longer allow our lives to be dictated by this detached political class. Politics must work for people, they must not put themselves above them. "

The Presidency College is one of the oldest universities in South Asia and is considered a left-wing elite forge in a traditionally left-wing city. But times have changed. A university degree is no longer a guarantee of a job. 19-year-old Dibyayan pulls his curly hair and laughs. He wants to vote for change, but not a party.

"For the first time there is the possibility of negative voting. That means, I can also tick on the ballot paper that I do not vote for any of the parties listed. Any party that is currently rising into the existing political class will be corrupted. But we will give We will work ourselves for change from the bottom up, so that politics no longer crushes the little man. "

"Just the daily rapes. It's just shocking."

India has a very young population. Two thirds of the population are younger than 35 years. Around half are even younger than 25. Those who can convince the youth have an advantage. But no one knows how many young voters will exercise their right to vote.

Anvesha Bose definitely chooses. The 22-year-old is studying political science at Presidency College. The young woman wants to do her master’s degree in two years and then either stay at the university and teach or join the civil service. Anvesha wants to make a difference.

"The situation of women in my country is terrible. Just the daily rape. It's just shocking. Politics have failed to protect women, but we are no longer silent. We are speaking. We make up half of the population "We are getting smarter, we are discussing. We young women in particular should definitely vote. Our new ideas and demands should be reflected in legislation and in the political system."

The two major national parties, Congress and BJP, as well as many of the regional parties that are splintering India's political landscape, are campaigning for female votes more aggressively than ever. Anvesha speaks with a wink of a "rat race".

"A rat race. It is a rat race."

But the determined politics student made her decision anyway. Anvesha chooses the risk, as she says.

"I support Narendra Modi because he promises us development and jobs. And what he has achieved in Gujarat is outstanding. Of course, I also think of the deadly rioting and that Modi is an avowed Hindu. Many also say that he is very much governed autocratically, and all of that scares me. But we have to take the risk, we need modernization and industrialization. The lack of jobs is the biggest problem for young people like me. "