Is meritocracy a myth? Let's see...

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I very much doubt he's still alive but when I met him, the last king of Bhavnagar was an optometrist living and practicing in North London. He used to play bridge with my father-in-law. Very nice guy.
You know how many kings I've met?
 

Aribeth Zelin

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I've stood in some castles.... and I share a birthday with a living royal. Closest, to my knowledge.
 
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Kamilah Hauptmann

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I very much doubt he's still alive but when I met him, the last king of Bhavnagar was an optometrist living and practicing in North London. He used to play bridge with my father-in-law. Very nice guy.
Kumarsinhji continued the progressive reforms of his father and grandfather, reforming the method of tax-collection in his state, introducing village councils and Bhavnagar's first legislature, the Dharasabha. Owing to his progressive reign, Kumarsinhji was knighted with the KCSI in 1938; however, he remained quietly committed to the cause of Indian independence. Therefore, upon Independence in 1947, Kumarsinhji became among the first of the Indian monarchs to accede to the Dominion of India in 1947. He merged Bhavnagar into the state of Kathiawad in 1948.
Neat!

 

Innula Zenovka

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It was his eldest son
  1. Maharaja Shri Virbhadrasinhji Krishna Kumarsinhji (14 March 1932 – 26 July 1994) who succeeded as Maharaja of Bhavnagar. Now his son Vijayrajsinhji Gohil as Maharaja Of Bhavnagar (29 April 1968)
He wasn't introduced to me as the king or maharaja, or anything like that. It came up in the course of family stories about the old days that Grandma had told, and someone mentioned the fact that the current king was dad's friend from the Gujarati bridge club who I'd met a couple of times.

ETA When they were talking in English, everyone called Bhavnagar's sometime ruler as "the king," though maharaja, of course, means "great king." "His highness," maybe?

Also, I see I misunderstood or misremembered. I thought it was my father-in-law's friend that Grandad had served, but it must have the friend's father (who died in 1968).
 
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Innula Zenovka

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I found this article on the belief in meritocracy, and I think it's worth a read.

I've been taking a look at the book and yes, I agree about the huge role played chance in our lives, but I think that's something I've always known, since when I was a child we were always taught to think of those less fortunate than ourselves. I've certainly always been very aware of my good fortune, in being born where and when I was, and with loving, supportive and reasonably successful and well-off parents who encouraged me. And many of the most pivotal events in my life, good or bad, have come about as the result of pure chance and good luck. How I responded to these unexpected turns of events, good or bad, was up to me, of course, but that they happened at all was completely fortuitous.
 

danielravennest

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I think, too, the jobs tended to be hereditary inside the extended family -- we tend to distinguish much more clearly between siblings and cousins than they do in India, I think, particularly in the more rural areas, where extended families all live in the same house or compound, and all the kids are brought up together, so if someone was a clear no-hoper for the job, or really wanted to do something else, one of the other brothers or cousins (sometimes sisters, too) would take it on.
One of my co-workers at Boeing was a Ph.D. engineer, and of Indian heritage. His uncle kept a black book of all the extended family, like to 4th cousins, and what they did and had. So when you needed something, you called uncle and asked who in the family did that. It kept money in the family and helped each other succeed. Very different from the American style of succeed or fail on your own.
 

Innula Zenovka

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One of my co-workers at Boeing was a Ph.D. engineer, and of Indian heritage. His uncle kept a black book of all the extended family, like to 4th cousins, and what they did and had. So when you needed something, you called uncle and asked who in the family did that. It kept money in the family and helped each other succeed. Very different from the American style of succeed or fail on your own.
I think we tend to forget that the various nations on the Indian subcontinent that once part of the Moghul or the British empires, or both, mostly have long-standing international trade and cultural links with many different countries.

Gujarat, certainly, has always had strong links with the Arab countries on the Gulf, and with East Africa, as well, of course, with the rest of India, and Asia too.

There's a huge Gujarati diaspora, and always has been, since Gujarat itself is a pretty conservative place, and young and ambitious people wanting to head to the big city, and with sufficient resources behind them, have always had ready access to a lot of big cities because of existing trade or cultural links.

So pretty much wherever you go, there's always an uncle or a couple of cousins not too far away if you need them, and several aunties who actually organise it all.
 

Innula Zenovka

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One of my co-workers at Boeing was a Ph.D. engineer, and of Indian heritage. His uncle kept a black book of all the extended family, like to 4th cousins, and what they did and had. So when you needed something, you called uncle and asked who in the family did that. It kept money in the family and helped each other succeed. Very different from the American style of succeed or fail on your own.
Certainly traditional Hindu culture is very family-conscious, not least because of arranged marriages.

Hindu restrictions on consanguinity are very tight, so it's important to keep track of cousins to the nth-degree when talking to marriage brokers, so you know who can marry whom, and consequently people tend to be very aware of who their close and their more distant relatives are.

There's also, or certainly there is in Gujarat, a whole complicated clan structure that I could never get the hang of, which is very much a part of life. I have an idea it's to do with the Indo-Aryan migrations and of which nomadic group of horsemen and women from the central Asian steppes you are descended.

Both parents' bloodlines count, and that also determines who can marry whom. it's pretty much the same as the consanguinity rules, but easier to understand because some combinations of parental clan and sub-clan are prohibited and some permitted.
 
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Beebo Brink

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Hindu restrictions on consanguinity are very tight, so it's important to keep track of cousins to the nth-degree when talking to marriage brokers, so you know who can marry whom, and consequently people tend to be very aware of who their close and their more distant relatives are.
Interesting. Given all cultural considerations/restrictions, it would be pretty difficult to find an acceptable marriage partner by chance romantic encounter, the current favored method in the West.
 
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