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In many countries, a very curious, odd phenomenon can be observed; on top of a republican, often even a democratic system, complete with elections, a parliament and rival political parties, sits a powerful family. In various places we have the Bhuttos in Pakistan, the Peron in Argentina, Mujibur Rehman's family in Bangladesh, the Lees of Singapore.

The one that stands out the most is our own home-grown Dynasty, the Nehru-Gandhis whom we all love to hate. The historian Ramachandra Guha has often been quoted saying that his dream is of a "Congress without the Gandhis and a BJP without the RSS". It's very easy to just hate them, but can we understand them? What keeps them in power generation after generation (counting Nehru, it's the fourth generation now). How do they come to power, and how do they retain it?

What makes them tick?

Hail, Prosperity! On the sixteenth day of the fourteenth year of King Parakesarivarman, who conquered Madurai, Whereas a royal letter of His Majesty, our lord, the glorious Viranarayana, the illustrious Parantakadeva, the prosperous Parakesarivarman, was received and was shown to us, We, the members of the assembly of Uttarameru-caturvedimangalam in its own sub-division in Kaliyurkottam, (with) Karanjai Kondaya-Kramavitta bhattan alias Somasiperuman of Srivanga-nagar in Purangarambai-nadu, a district of the Chola country, sitting with us and convening the committee in accordance with the royal command, Made a settlement as follows according to the terms of the royal letter for choosing once every year from this year forward, members for the "Annual Committee", "Garden Committee", and "Tank Committee"...