Poor – Rich Divide in Aravind Adiga’s “The White Tiger” : Prof. AJ Sebastian sdb

Poor – Rich Divide in Aravind  Adiga’s The White Tiger

       Aravind Adiga’s   The White Tiger, which  was awarded  the  Man Booker Prize in 2008, is   singular in its  fictionalized   portrayal of  the relationship between Balram Halwai and his master Mr Ashok. The story exposes the poor-rich divide that  surrounds  India   in the backdrop of  economic prosperity, in the wake of the  IT revolution. As Michael Portillo commented  the novel “shocked and entertained in equal measure”  (Portillo). Written in the epistolary form, the novel is  a seven-part letter to the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao,  from  Balram alias Ashok Sharma,   a self-styled  ‘Thinking Man / And an entrepreneur’ (TWT 3). Balram the killer,  metamorphoses into his master’s replica  after his heinous crime. By crime and cunning, in the name of the social injustice due to existing rich-poor divide in India, Balram rules his entrepreneurial world.

This paper attempts to trace the  great poor-rich divide manifested through The White Tiger, having  dangerous consequences, if  unresolved.

 Speaking  on the servant-master relationship, Adiga says:

 The servant-master system implies two things: One is that the servants are far poorer than the rich—a servant has no possibility of ever catching up to the master. And secondly, he has access to the master—the master’s money, the master’s physical person. Yet crime rates in India are very low. Even though the middle class—who often have three or four servants—are paranoid about crime, the reality is a master getting killed by his servant is rare….  You need two things [for crime to occur]—a divide and a conscious ideology of resentment. We don’t have resentment in India. The poor just assume that the rich are a fact of life…. But I think we’re seeing what I believe is a class-based resentment for the first time.  (Sawhney).

 Balram Halwai, is presented as  a modern Indian hero, in the midst of the economic prosperity of India in the recent past. His climbing the ladder of success is by  murdering Mr. Ashok, his employer, and stealing his bag full of money – Rs.700,000/-,  based on a philosophy of revenge,   ambition and corruption.

 Balram is  representative of the poor in India yearning  for their ‘tomorrow’. His story is  a parable of the new India with   a distinctly macabre twist. He is not only  an entrepreneur but also a roguish criminal   remarkably capable of  self-justification. The background against which he operates is one of corruption, inequality and poverty (Kapur).

  Injustice and inequality has always been around us and we get used to it.  How long can it go on? Social discontent and violence  has been on the rise. What  Adiga highlights is the  ever widening gap between the rich and the poor  and the economic system that   lets  a small minority  to prosper at the expense of the majority. “At a time when India is going  through great changes and, with China, is likely to inherit the world from the west, it is important that writers like me try to highlight the brutal injustices of society… the great divide.” (Raaj 9).

 It has been pointed out that the period since the neo-liberal economic reforms were introduced in  India, there has been greater economic disparity. There is a growing    consumption by the rich and   the urban upper middle income groups.  Side by side  we see the  lives of the poor becoming   more vulnerable and precarious. The National Sample Survey Organisation, through its study, has   shown that  up to 1998,  there has  been relatively flat consumption per person and   no decline in poverty.   There was a dramatic revision of poverty figures in 1999-00.   9 surveys from  1989-90 to 1998 had shown no poverty reduction.  A minority of the population (around 20  per cent) has   benefited   from the economic policies in the  last decade, while   the majority of the rural  and urban population   have not benefited.    But for  80 per cent of the  rural population per capita consumption  has actually declined since 1989-90 (Ghosh). 

In  a paper entitled “Democratic Practice and Social Inequality in India”  Jean Drèze  and Amartya Sen    examine   the role of democratic practice in contemporary India.  They examine the  achievements and limitations of Indian democracy, especially the adverse effects of social inequality. They point out how the quality of democracy is often compromised by social inequality and inadequate political participation, though democratic practice itself is a powerful tool of elimination of social inequality (Dreze).  The White Tiger is an exceptional fictionalized  study in human inequality  that is gnawing into  our democracy. 

 Statistics show how poverty is on the rise in India:  i)  4 in every 10 Indian children are malnourished according to a UN report.  ii) India Ranks a lowly 66 out of 88 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2008. The report says India has more hungry people – more than 200 million – than any other country in the world. iii) One third of the world’s poor live in India, according to the latest poverty estimates from the World Bank. Based on its new threshold of poverty – $ 1.25 a day – the number of poor people has gone up from 421 million in 1981 to 456 million in 2005. iv) India ranks 128 out of  177 countries in the UN’s Human Development Index. Aravid Adiga’s story of a rickshawallah’s move from the “darkness” of rural India to the “light” of urban Gurgaon   reminds us of the harsh facts behind the fiction  (Raaj 9).  

 Balram  becomes  a true professional busy handling crisis situations sitting in his office. He recall  what poet Mirza Ghalib wrote about slaves: “They remain slaves because they can’t see what is beautiful in the world” (TWT 40). His thirst for freedom came alive when he visited his native village while Mr. Ashok and wife Pinky went on an excursion.

 …It was a very important trip for me… while Mr. Ashok and Pinky Madam were relaxing…I swam through the pond, walked  up the hill…and entered the Black Fort for the first time…Putting my foot on the wall, I  looked down on the village from there. My little Laxmangarh. I saw the temple tower, the market, the glistening line of sewage, the landlords’  mansion – and my own house, with that dark little cloud outside – the water buffalo. It looked like the  most beautiful sight on earth. I leaned out from the edge of the fort in the direction of my village – and then I did something too disgusting to describe to you. Well actually, I spat. Again and again. And then, whistling and humming, I went back down the hill. Eight months later, I slit Mr Ashok’s throat (41-2).

    Adiga is so pictorial in his description of the protagonist, who plans his crime well in advance. His disgusting act of  spitting repeatedly in the direction of his village  could be a sign of final   rejection of everything he holds dear, to escape from the Rooster Coop of misery.

  His schooling in crime begins with the  reading of  Murder Weekly as all drivers do, to while away their time. “Of course, a billion servants are secretly fantasizing about strangling their bosses – and that’s why the government of India publishes the magazine and sells it on the  streets for just four  and a half rupees  so that even the poor can buy it” (125).   He feels degraded  as a human being, deprived of basic human rights to enter a shopping mall.  A poor driver  couldn’t enter a mall as he belonged to the  poor class. If he walked into the mall someone would say “Hey, That man is a paid driver! What ‘s he doing in here? There  were guards in grey uniforms on every floor –  all of them seemed to be watching me. It was my first taste of the fugitive’s life (152). Balram reminisces one of the newspaper reports on the malls, in the early days entitled ‘Is there No Space for the Poor in the Malls of new India?’ (148). The security guards at these shopping malls identified the poor  wearing sandals let in only those wearing shoes, while a poor man id sandals was driven  out. This made a man in sandals  explode ‘Am I not a human being too?’ (148). 

 He knows  full well that Ashok  comes  from a  caste of cooks (155) and yet now he has to serve the wretch who is moneyed. He decides to break out of this  fate of the poor in India,   as from  a Rooster Coop.

In the programme  “You  ask the question,”    replying to a  query on poverty,  internal unrest and  terrorism in India, Adiga said: 

These problems have been brewing for a long time. The causes are complex, but one common theme I find is the heightened tension within the country that’s caused by the growing gap between the rich and the poor. The flare-ups can often take the form of ethnic or regional protests, but the underlying grievances are often economic: “those people who live over there are doing much better than we are.” Fixing the economic disparities has to be part of any attempt to address India’s growing unrest. The country’s intelligence and police agencies need to be reformed and modernised; right now they seem way behind the terrorists (Adiga).    

Balram’s  master Ashok  lived in a new apartment  called Buckingham Towers A Block, which was one of the best in   Delhi.  Ashok spent  a lot of time visiting malls, along with Pinky Madam, his wife and Mongoose. Balram’s job was also to  carry all the shopping bags as they came out of the malls. The mean and stingy behaviour of the rich is shown through the  lost coin episode where Mongoose  insults Balram for not  having    retrieved a rupee coin he lost while getting out of the car. He was so bothered about a rupee coin after   bribing someone with a million rupees:

              ‘Get down on your knees. Look for it on the floor of the car.’

I got down on my knees. I sniffed in between the mats like a dog, all in search of that one rupee.

‘What do you mean, it’s not there? Don’t think you can steal from us just because you’re in the city. I want that rupee.’

‘We’ve  just paid half  a million rupees in a bribe, Mukesh,  and now we’re screwing this man over for a single rupee. Let’s go up and have a scotch.’

‘That’s how you corrupt servants. It starts with one rupee. Don’t bring your American ways here.’

Where that  rupee  coin went remains a mystery to me to this day, Mr Premier. Finally, I took a rupee coin out of my shirt pocket, dropped it on the floor of the car, picked it up, and gave it to the Mongoose (139).

 Such mean behaviour  of the masters  continue when they instruct the servants about does and don’ts. Balram is told never to switch on the AC or play music when he is alone.

 Taunting  Balram for his lack of an English education was great  fun for Ashok and Pinky Madam.  It patched up their  quarrels. When he mispronounced “Maal” for “mall” they had their ironic laughter.    The pizza episode is  similar in nature.  On Pinky Madam’s birthday, Balram was made to dress up like a maharaja with a red turban and dark cooling glasses and serve them food.  The lady to amuse herself trapped Balram to repeat PiZZa as Balram always pronounced it piJJA. 

 The same happens when he is blackmailed when Pinky kills a man on the road in drunken  driving.  He has to suffer  humiliation in the hands of his masters with ever increasing menial duties which climaxes in his being blackmailed when Ashoke’s    wife Pinky   kills  a man in  drunken driving.   He was forced to sign  a statement accepting full responsibility for the accident:

               TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN,

I, Balram Hawai, son of Vikram Halwai, of Laxmangarh village in the district of Gaya, do make the following statement of my own free will and intention:

That I drove the car that hit an unidentified person, or persons, or person  and objects, on the night of   January 23rd of this year…I swear by almighty God that I make  this statement under no duress and under instruction from no one (TWT 168).

  When Pinky Madam left Ashok suddenly in a rage, Balram had driven her to the airport  in the middle of the night for which he was rewarded  with a fat brown envelop filled with   forty-seven hundred rupees. Introspecting on the  tip Balram recounts:

 Forty-seven hundred rupees….Odd sum of money – wasn’t it? There was a mystery to be solved here. Let’s see. Maybe she started off giving me five thousand, and then, being cheap, like all rich people are – remember how the Mongoose made me get down on my knees for that one-rupee coin? –deducted three hundred. That’s not how the rich think, you moron. Haven’t you learned yet? She must have taken out ten thousand at first. Then cut it in half, and kept half for herself. Then taken out another hundred rupees, another hundred, and another hundred. That’s how cheap they are.

So that means they really owe you ten thousand. But if she thought she owed you ten thousand, then what she truly owed you was, what – ten times more?

‘No, a hundred times more.’ (206).

 He is educated in the  mean ways of the rich  which he imbibes himself in course of time. Balram, a victim of  rich-poor divide, reverses the role and  becomes ‘master like servant’. When he is alone he takes pleasure in  masochisms.

 He  plays the games people play who cannot reach out to be like the master. He had seen Mr  Ashok enjoying life with girls, frequenting  malls and  hotels.  Out of sheer spite for the rich he  serves, he expresses his frustration in   mean acts like those mentioned. His going to the redlight area in search of a prostitute is to satisfy his suppressed  revenge as well.

 He searches for strands of golden hair of women who frequently traveled with  Ashok in the car and had sex.   He takes pleasure in collecting every strand of  female hair:

 I held it up to the light.

A strand of golden hair!

I’ve got it in my desk to this day.  (222).

 He has to do all menial jobs like massaging Mongoose, carry cash to ministers and politicians, bring liquor and women for the men, and  entertain  people serving liquor while driving with one hand.

 While in  Delhi   Balram experiences the   two kinds of India   with those who are eaten, and those who eat, prey and predators. Balram decides he wants to be an eater, someone with a big belly, and the novel tracks the way in which this ambition plays out (Walters). The key metaphor in the novel is of the Rooster Coop. Balram is caged like  the chickens in the rooster coop. He, being a White Tiger, has to break  out of the cage to freedom.

 Go to old  Delhi …and look at the way they keep chickens there in the market. Hundreds of pale hens and brightly coloured roosters, stuffed tightly into wire-mesh cages…They see the organs of their brothers lying around them. They know they’re next. Yet they do not rebel. They do not try to get out of the coop. The very same thing is done with human beings in this country   (TWT 173-4).

   He   decides to ape his  masters   to become a big-bellied man, by resorting to corrupt ways he has learnt through bribery, crime, disregarding all civilized ways of life.  His violent bid for freedom is shocking. Is he made just another thug in India’s urban jungle or a revolutionary and idealist ? (Turpin).  Adiga  “strikes a fine balance between the sociology of the wretched place he has chosen as home and the twisted humanism of the outcast”   (Prasannarajan).   Through his  criminal drive Balram becomes a businessman and   runs a car service for the call centres in Bangalore.

 Balram’s commentary is replete with Irony, paradox, and anger  that run like a poison throughout every page (Andrew).   “Above all, it’s a vision of a society of people complicit in their own servitude: to paraphrase Balram, they are roosters guarding the coop, aware they’re for the chop, yet unwilling to escape. Ultimately, the tiger refuses to stay caged. Balram’s violent bid for freedom is shocking” (Turpin). 

 The protagonist   confirms that  the trustworthiness of servants is the basis of the entire Indian economy. This is a paradox and a mystery of India.

 Because Indians are the world’s most  honest people… No. It’s because 99.9 per cent  of us are caught in the Rooster coop just like those poor guys in the poultry market. The Rooster Coop doesn’t  always work with miniscule sums of money.… Masters trust their servants with diamonds in this country!…  handful of men in this country have trained the remaining 99.9 per cent – as strong, as talented, as intelligent in every way – to exist in perpetual servitude… can a  man break out of the coop? …the Indian family, is the reason we are trapped and tied to the coop….only a man who is prepared to see his family destroyed – hunted, beaten, and burned alive by masters – can break out of the coop. That would take no normal human being, but a freak, a pervert of nature (TWT 175-7).

 Balram  wants to escape from the   Rooster Coop.  Having been a witness to all of Ashoke’s corrupt practices and gambling with money to buy politicians, to kill and to loot, he decides to  steal and kill. Adiga delves deep  into his  subconscious  as he plans to loot Rs.700,000 stuffed into the red bag.

 Go on,  just look at the red bag, Balram – that’s not stealing, is it?

I shook my head.

And even you were to steal it, Balram, it wouldn’t be stealing.

How so? I looked at the creature in the mirror.

See- Mr. Ashok is giving money to all these politicians in Delhi so that they will excuse him from  the tax he has to pay. And who owns  that tax, in the end? Who but the ordinary people of this country – you! (244).

         The money is sufficient for him to  begin a new life with  a house of his own, a motorbike and a small shop.  He hatched the murder plan in quick succession: “The dream of the rich, and the dreams of the poor – they never overlap, do they? See,   the  poor dream all their lives of getting enough to eat and looking like the rich. And what do the rich  dream of? Losing weight and looking like the poor” (225).

 Adiga makes the protagonist spell out the way  enterprising drivers make  a little extra money by: i) siphoning petrol and selling, ii) repairing the car under a corrupt mechanic who gives inflated bills, iii) studying his master’s habits and capitalize on his  carelessness, iv) risking to make his master’s car into a freelance taxi.   Balram thought of making  a confession of all these misdeed, but instead of guilt he felt “Rage. The more I stole from him, the more I realized how much he had stolen from me. To go back to the analogy I used when describing Indian politics to you earlier, I was growing a belly at last” (230).

Ashok confesses  to Balram  about his filthy life. “My way of living is all wrong, Balram. I know it, but I don’t have the courage to change it. I just don’t have… the balls…. ‘I let  people exploit me, Balram. I’ve  never  done what I’ve wanted, my whole life” (237-8).

Balram’s comment on  the  two puddles of red spat out by  a paan chewing driver, discloses his mental  frame:

The left-hand                                   But the right-hand

Puddle of spit                                   puddle of spit

Seemed to say:                                 seemed to say:

Your  father wanted you to             Your father wanted you to

to be an honest man                         to be a man.

 Mr  Ashok does not hit you            Mr Ashok made you take the        

Or spit on you, like people                            blame  when his wife killed

Did to your father.                           That child on the road.

 Mr Ashok pays you well,                This is a pittance. You live in

4,000 rupees a month.                     A city. What do you save?

     He has been raising  your                Nothing.

Salary without your even

Asking.

 Remember what the                         The very fact that Mr Ashok

Buffalo ndid to his servant’s          threatens your family makes

Family. Mr ashok will                     your blood boil!

Ask his father to do the

Same to your family once

You run away (246).

 Such a monologue makes  Balram weigh the consequence of his   hatching his plot  and the consequent theft and murder. Adiga   brings out powerfully Balram’s  unexpressed thoughts in several conversations punctuated with  soliloquies. The stream of consciousness   leads him to justify his plans of murder with  growing meanness of Ashok in treating him. Balram had planned to confess his criminal thoughts, but Mr Ashok interrupted him thinking that he wanted to ask him for some money to get married:

 ‘I understand, Balram.’

…’

‘You want to get married.’

‘Balram. You’ll need  some money, won’t you?’

‘Sir, no. There’s no need of that.’

‘Wait, Balram. Let me take out my wallet. You’re a good member of the family. You never ask for more money …but you never say a word. You’re old fashioned. I like that. We’ll  take care of  all the wedding expenses, Balram. Here, Balram – here’s… here’s…’

I saw him take out a  thousand- rupee note, put it back, then take out a five-hundred, then put it back, and take out a  hundred. Which he handed to me (257-8).

 Such mean  and ironic behaviour  on the part of  Ashok drives Balram crazy for vengeance. There is perfect communication gap between the two. This is symbolic of the rich-poor divide that   is fermenting to  take revenge. Balram’s plans are confirmed while visiting the National Zoo in Delhi.

 He  tells Dharam:  “Let animals live like animals;  let humans live like humans. That’s my whole philosophy in a sentence” (TWT 276).  When he chanced to see the white  tiger in the enclosure, he began his musings: “…Not any kind  of tiger. The creature that gets born only once every generation in the jungle. I watched  him  walk behind the bamboo bars… He was hypnotizing himself by walking like this – that was the  only way he could tolerate this cage….The tiger’s eyes met my eyes, like my master’s eyes have met mine in the mirror of the  car. All at once, the tiger vanished… My knees began to shake; I felt light” (276-7).   

 Balram associated  his  symbolic life of freedom with that of  sitting under   chandeliers. “Sometimes, in my apartment, I turn both the chandeliers, and then I lie down amid all the light, and I just start laughing. A man in hiding, and yet he’s surrounded by chandeliers! There – I’m revealing the secret to a successful escape. The police searched for me in darkness: but I hid myself in light” (118).

 He  sums up his  success story as an entrepreneur in Bangalore. He moves  from success to success- from being a social entrepreneur to a business entrepreneur. What does he mean by ‘social’ to ‘business’? He has perhaps become another incarnation of Mr Ashok by christening himself  Ashok.

Yes, Ashok! That’s what I call myself these days. Ashok Sharma, North Indian entrepreneur, settled in Bangalore… I would show you all the secrets of my business…my drivers, my garages, my mechanics, and my paid-off policemen. All of them belong to me – Munna, whose destiny was to be a sweet-maker! (302).

      All that he can remember is his past juxtaposed with his present status. From a sweet-maker to a business tycoon. The circle is complete in his case like that of his boss Mr Ashok, who was from a cook’s family. He claims to be different from Mr Ashok.

Once I was a driver to a master, but now I am a master of drivers. I don’t treat them like servants – I don’t slap, or bully, or mock anyone. I don’t insult any of them by calling them my ‘family’ either. They’re my employees, I’m their boss, that’s all. I make them sign a contract and I sign it too, and both of us must honour that contract. That’s all. If they notice the way I talk, the way I dress, the way I keep things clean, they’ll go up in life. If they don’t, they’ll be drivers all their lives. I leave the choice up to them. When the work is done I kick them out of the office: no chitchat, no cups of coffee. A White Tiger keeps no friends. It’s too dangerous (302).

Balram sounds very pragmatic. His   philosophy of individualism comes close to Mr Ashoke’s  Machiavellianism.  Balram’s individualism   stresses independence and self-reliance disregarding any morality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individualism), while Ashok’s Machiavellianism  describes his tendency to deceive and manipulate others for personal gain.  He prompts  his drivers to imitate him if they wished to succeed in life, becoming White Tigers.  He dreams of establishing a school for poor children in Bangalore where he could train them in facts of life:

 A school full of White Tigers, unleashed on Bangalore! We’d  have this city at our knees, I  tell you. I could become the Boss of Bangalore. I’d  fix that assistant commissioner of police at once. I’d put him on a bicycles and have Asif knock him over with the Qualis.

All this dreaming I’m doing – it may well turn out to be nothing (319-20).

          He  know how to escape from being caught through corrupt means. He has got the roles reversed and justifies having masters like Ashok to enable White Tigers like him to break out of the  Coop. 

 I think the Rooster Coop needs people like me to break out of it. It needs masters like Mr Ashok – who, for all his numerous virtues, was not much of a master – to be weeded out, and exceptional servants like me to replace them.…I have switched sides: I am now one of those who cannot be caught in India….

I’ve made it! I’ve broken out of the coop! …I’ll never say I made a mistake that night in Delhi when I slit my master’s throat (320-21).

Balram proves to be a psychopath with his hysterical laughter with which he concludes his story of success in blood. A very dangerous philosophy of  life, which is nothing but that of  terrorists. Adiga has  created two psychopaths who will destroy our social fabric. There seems to be    play of   Sadomasochism  with the  co-occurrence of sadism and masochism in both Balram and Ashok.    

What difference is there between the terror mechanism employed by Balram and  a terrorist. As Adiga  opines,  “Terrorism and corruption are linked. A corrupt system that fails to provide justice or to reduce poverty is one of the causes of terrorism. Terrorists in India are often middle-class, but one of the things that gets them worked up” (Adiga). Class struggle in India continues to be the focus of The White Tiger, where Adiga  attempts to bring out the contrast between the haves and have-nots.   However, some Indian critics wonder if   Adiga intended  the novel   primarily to get  western readership, projecting  the   protagonist,  getting away with his crime, being a victim of perpetual servitude(Quari). Similar is the anguish   of Amardeep Singh  who is perturbed by  Adiga’s   narrating   about  India’s poverty for a non-Indian, non-poor readers, through a    half baked Indian protagonist who is a   socio-political caricature (Singh).

 It  may be remarked that Adiga  wanted to  show to the world the other side of India in the form of a fiction. As some readers point out why  we should  feel so pricked about it since fiction should be treated not as gospel truth.  Our national pride shouldn’t  be hurt by it. How long can we ignore the cry of the poor made poorer day by day by corruption reigning supreme in all  sectors in our democracy?  Amitava Kumar  finds The White Tiger inauthentic and  points out how several non-resident Indian authors after Rushdie had taken refuge in magic realism and  have gone farther in to  inauthenticity  (Kumar 2).

In creating a protagonist like Balran in The white Tiger, has Adiga come forward to make   subaltern speak through crime?   Gayati Chakravorty Spivak’s concept of  Subaltern   leads to the premise that  subaltern cannot speak.  It   not    a classy word for oppressed, for other, for somebody who’s not getting a piece of the pie, but  it signified “proletarian,” whose voice could not be heard, being structurally written out of the capitalist bourgeois narrative  (kilburn).

   In portraying  the character of Balram, Adiga has   excelled in  projecting a typical   psychopath / sociopath,  our society can churn out.    In  “Behavioural Traits of Psychopaths”, Jennifer Copley points out:  “While most people’s actions are guided by a number of factors, such as the desire to avoid hurting other people, the psychopath selects a course of action based on only one factor—what can he get out of it. This cold-blooded mode of reasoning enables the psychopath to commit acts that most people’s consciences would not allow” ( Copley). Psychopaths are  also known as sociopaths who are  manipulative, deceitful, impulsive lacking self-restraint, and inclined to take risks.  They are “Callous, deceitful, reckless, guiltless …. The psychopath understands the wishes and concerns of others; he simply does not care…. The psychopath believes that rules and morals are for other, weaker people who obey because they fear punishment” (Adams) . . .  All these traits are  found in Balram who goes about  heroically planning his heinous crimes.

 While most people’s actions are guided by a number of factors, such as the desire to avoid hurting other people, the psychopath selects a course of action based on only one factor—what can he get out of it. This cold-blooded mode of reasoning enables the psychopath to commit acts that most people’s consciences would not allow (Copley). Both Balram and  Ashok are  psychopaths/sociopaths with traits of the disorder  shown at different levels as they are  manipulative, deceitful, impulsive and inclined to take risks.

 As Adiga says: “Balram’s anger is not an anger that the reader should participate in entirely—it can seem at times like the rage you might feel if you were in Balram’s place—but at other times you should feel troubled by it, certainly”  (DiMartino).

Poverty trends in India  has been  debated by those claiming decline in poverty  and those disproving it.  Angus  Deaton and Jean Dreze in their thought provoking  essay “Poverty and Inequality in India: A Re-examination” state that some claim that the 1990s have been a period of unprecedented improvement in living standards, while others argue that the period  has been marked by widespread impoverishment (Deaton  243).

 It is imperative that our Government  has the political will  to fight corruption at all levels and take  appropriate measures to fight poverty of its teeming millions  with increased   investment in basic education, medical care and farming.   

   The novel is  an excellent  social commentary on the poor-rich divide in India.    Balram represents the   downtrodden sections of our society juxtaposed against the rich   (Saxena 9). Deirdre Donahue  labels The White Tiger an angry novel about injustice and power  which creates merciless thugs among whom only the ruthless can survive  (Donahue).

 However, The White Tiger  should make every right thinking citizen  to   read the signs of the times  and be socially conscious of  the   rights and duties  of each one,  irrespective of caste, creed or    economic status, to prevent  create the  types of Ashok and Balram in our society. 

 ————–

References

 

Adams,  David B. “Sociopaths.”    http://www.geocities.com/lycium7/psychopathy.html,

  Downloaded  on 4/11/08.

Adiga, Aravind. The White Tiger. Noida: Harper Collins Publishers, 2008.

  (Abbreviated TWT).

—–. “Aravind Adiga: You ask the Questions”.  The Independent. November 10,    2008.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/ aravind-adiga-you-    ask-  the-questions-1006643.html.  Downloaded  on 14/11/08.

Copley, Jennifer Behavioural Traits of Psychopaths.”  July 30, 2008.    

      com/article.cfm/behavioural_traits_of_psychopaths, downloaded on    14/11/ 2008.

Deaton, Angus and Jean Dreze. 2005.  “Poverty and Inequality in India: A Re-examination.”

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