Literature consists of those writings which interpret the meaning of nature and life in words of charm and power, touched with the personality of the author, in artistic forms of permanent interests. It is a product of life and about life. It uses language as medium to express once own feelings and experiences. Literature makes a person wiser and more experienced person by forcing the person to judge, sympathize with or criticize the characters they read about.
Imaginative literature or literature of power includes poem, short stories, novels and plays. It interprets human experience by presenting fictious persons, incidents or situations not by actual truth about particular events. Literature improves our command of language. It teaches about the life, culture and experiences of people in other parts of the world.
Generally, literature is divided into two kind namely fictional and non-fictional literatures. Fictional literature is imaginary composed writing or work of art that is meant to provide information, education and entertainment to the readers. In other words, fictional literature is based on the writer’s imagination rather than reality. Non-fictional literature is factual writing or written work that is about facts on real places, events, characters, times or reality rather than imaginary things.
India was legend in England before the two countries came face to face. The two countries have dealt with each other in trade military and political affairs for about three and half centuries. India gave wealth and Empire to England and many things she received in return. The most significant are the English language and the concept of the constitutional government. India not only remains a member of the English speaking world but also contributes to a distinct genre of English literature called Indo Anglican Literature.
The beginning of the nineteenth century, the main aspects of the Indian Renaissance was the effort to recreate the cultural life that existed in the west. Past hundred and fifty years Indo Anglican Literature has outstanding achievements to its credits in the creative as well as critical field.
English education was introduced in India in nineteenth century. English education was made available to vast Indian community. By introducing English education, Britishers wanted to create and maintain a class of administrative officers, clerks and civil servants to govern this huge country properly.
English education brought tremendous changes in the attitude of the Indians. The young Indians with proper education were able to read, write and speak English with competence, it made a great impact on the social, political and the religious life of India. Lord Macaulay’s minutes on Indian education in 1935 and Lord Bentinck’s decision to promote European literature and science among the Indians instigated the Indians to use an alien tongue for creative expression.
Indian English language and literature, originated as a necessary outcome of the introduction of English education in India under colonial rule. The air of transformation touched many aspects of Indian life. Study of European arts and literature got importance in India. This was similar to the Renaissance that took place in Italy in fourteenth century.
Indian writing in English has a very recent history, which is one and half century old. From the historical perspective, Indian English literature has passed through several phases such as Indo-Anglican, Indo –English, Indian writing in English and recently Indian English literature.
Indian writing in English has come quite a long way from the mere use of the English language as an authentic tool for expressing one’s ideas, thoughts, concepts and imagination. It has attained maturity but it has its own phases of development.
Throughout the decades, Indian authors have continued to gain reputation, prestige and accolades for their literary works. As a result of the quality and popularity of the Indian authors, they have earned several international awards and honours.
Indian literature cannot be looked at in its exclusivity as an isolated phenomenon. Vast and varied as the canvas because of the multiplicity of languages, this has to be viewed as part of world literature. Richard G. Moulton considered world literature as the ‘autobiography of civilization’. Enriched by the world classics, world literature reflects human progress through evolutionary stages-the pastoral, the primitive, the feudal, capitalist, the bourgeois.
The revolution in the world of thought comes next when man turned inward into the realm of his soul. Great kings like Ashok sent his missionaries to China taking with them the message of Buddhism. The Islamic impact brought a blend of Semitic-Aryan or Arab Persian culture to India. Translations into different languages must bring what world and European heritage can contribute through English.
Through literature of the day modem consciousness was evolved making integrated living possible, bringing together the East and the West, the East with its emphasis on Spirit and the West on Matter. Gokak takes a broad view quoting T.S.Eliot that culture of the individual and of the group and of the whole society are integrated organically and they cannot be isolated from each other.
He maintains that a national culture is a constellation of cultures, the constituents of which benefiting each other benefit the whole. It is interesting to note that these national cultures are integrated into the spiritual organism. Tradition comes handy as it involves the perception, not only the pastness of the past, but of its present. T.S.Eliot concludes in his Waste Land chanting Shantih, Shantih, Shantih’.
Thus literatures of the world are united in one-way or the other. They inherit a rich legacy of memories, the desire to live together, and the will to continue to make the best use of invisible heritage receive. Here there is the reverence for the past and for traditional forms coupled with freedom and flexibility of mind and a tolerance of the spirit.
Gokak thinks it absurd to think of India or any other country as an anthropomorphic, the country or a nation represented by a human person. Though Nehru in his Discovery of India grows poetic over the landscape, the hills and mountains, the rivers and gardens, nation meant to him the people, We the people. To Sri Aurobindo, Nation is an aggregate life of the people that expresses the self according to the general law of human nature. These human collectivities present ‘group souls’. Mr. Amaury De Riencourt in his book, The Soul of India, on the lines of The Soul of China shows some awareness of the continuity of Indian culture.
The United States of America of provincial literatures, but no Russian literature as such. India emerged as a nation, from the North to the South from the East to the West since the Aryans and evolved into a nation down the two centuries or so. Different nationalities have thrown themselves into this melting pot. Russia was a multinational state with many national languages.
Despite the best efforts of Gorky in the Post-Stalin Era, what emerged as a reality was a series the Dravidians first clashed and then joined to live together on the Sapta Sindhu soil. A cultural tradition exists which is five thousand years old, which holds the various parts together. Despite the British diplomacy to divide the Hindu-Muslim polity, it had lived up to the ideal of unity in diversity. Keats used to see in his vision pagan goddesses sleeping over vast stretches of land.
Indian goddesses in that fashion appears to be half slumbering on her
own right arm with her head pillowed by the peak of the Himalayas, her feet resting on Cape Comorin washed by the waters of the three ocean. Gokak emphasizes that the people’s philosophy, their religion formulation, their artistic, literary expression, their society and political structures make their mind and body of the people or nation.
This is again an instance of the India as an anthropomorphic entity reinforced by the philosophical conception. Sri Aurobindo asserts that the nation’s dynamism has to be drawn from the Philosophy and Religion fortifying each other, Matter and Spirit playing their supportive role. The Vedas speak of the Earth as the Mother and Heaven as the Father. Gokak is clear when he says that in his concept of nation religion is a non-dogmatic inclusive religion and would have taken even Islam and Christianity into itself if they had tolerated the process, that process envisaged here is one of co-existence, if not of assimilation.
Indian art and Indian literature, Indian philosophy and religions in India in their peaceful co-existence in harmony have thus lent meaning to the concept of unity in diversity which is at the very basis of Indian nationalism. Dr.S.Radhakrishnan emphasized that Indian literature is one though it is written in many languages. Indian languages are derived from the Aryan and the Dravidian stock, nine from the former, four from the Dravidian stock, and four from Sanskrit through Prakrit, almost on the lines of Germanic or Romanic languages.
Urdu has .its own history of origin though Gokak traces it to Baba Farid, Amir Khusro, Khwaja Garibunnawaz Gesudaras (R.A) who wrote his treatise on Mysticism, Merajul Ashiqin by about 1420 A.D. Tamil and Kannada were fully developed by about 1000 A.D. Sanskrit started losing hold as the Indian languages made efforts to develop. Meanwhile, two foreign languages, Persian and English emerged for historically known reasons causing
set-back for Indian languages to come into their own, though not in literature but in their applied domain. The middle ages in India were heralded with the advent of Islam in the eleventh century.
Internally, the social structure in the country had outlasted its utility and was on the point of disintegration. A reorientation was the need of the hour. Hinduism had also to fight for survival against the new and powerful forces that the advent and domain of Islam released in India. The medieval Indian scene, therefore reveals the rise and persistence of two movements in its social and political life simultaneously, the crusade for a reform of Hindu religious and social life and a revival in its true values, and an ingathering of forces for political survival and consolidations.
It also happens that, when the Hindus and Muslims settle down eventually to a partnership of responsibilities in the country, a third movement is perceptible, that as an attempt at synthesizing Hinduism and Islam or at least enabling Hindus and Muslims to live together in an atmosphere of tolerance and harmony and understanding.
The linguistic consequences of the advent of Islam on Kashmiri language is evident in that Persian element became predominant supplanting the Sanskrit tradition. The language was divided into two sub- dialects; Urdu emerged as the spoken language from the Soursenic dialect and was carried to the Bahamani kingdom in the South by the Muslim conquerors, where it developed its literature in a prolific manner.
Indian literature, which had survived through medieval times, has had their revival. Naneshwari, Tukaram, Ramdas, Miribai, Kabir, Tulsidas, Surdas and a host of others spearheaded the movement for revival. The South had their strong stalwarts in Kanakadas, Tyagaraja and Subrahmanya Bharati. The movement of revival received impetus through
translations of the classics. The emergence of Indian literatures through translations owes much to English. Gokak is unequivocal when he states:
But English as a literary medium wears an artificial look especially when it is realized that the mother tongue satisfies the inner urge for expression better than any other medium. Nevertheless, an Indian seeking cosmopolitan audience can legitimately take to English even today, as Sri Aurobindo did in his poetry as well as his philosophical writing. Even when English ceases to be the medium of instruction in out universities, it will have to play an important role as the medium for interpreting our culture and philosophy and for creative renderings our ancient and modem classics in the world. (Gokak 5)
English education brought the West to the doors of the East along with the blessings of materialism and the benefits of scientific ideas at least to the few. Western education put an end to superstition, caste ridden practices and installed in their places, democratic cult of the individual, the respect for human personality, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Sir William Jones and Max Muller made us realize the value and worth of our heritage.
The newly awakened spirit of nationalism received added encouragement from the Western education. Only literary historians like Prof. K.R.S.lyengar can depict the wide gamut of ‘Indian Writing in English’, which was given as a series of lectures in the University of Leeds in 1959 and subsequently published under the title which subsequently became a Course of Study in the Indian Universities in the Department of English.
Critics and commentators are quick to perceive the occult and metaphysical themes of these writers which abound in inversion, freakish words and ‘eccentric collocations, involved construction phrases balancing adjectives as Dr.C.P. Verghese has
pointed out. No doubt, Indian writers may deal with Indian myth and legend. But they also deal with social and political movements like Raja Rao in Kanthapura, Mulk Raj Anand in Coolie, Kushwant Singh in Train to Pakistan. The portrait gallery from their hands includes legendary princesses like Sita and Damayanti, Arjun and Karan. They come alive in flesh and blood before our eyes vividly with local colour.
Prof.Gokak’s Samsrasaoe leeoana dealt with national movements of 1921. Sarojini Naidu’s description of the crescent moon as ‘the caste mark on heaven’s brow is really as poetic as it is exquisite. Modem Indian Literature in English has assimilated national cultures in regional terms as ‘daughters of Modern India’ (Gokak). Mere geography, race, religion or language, though important in themselves do not give an idea of Indianness. The deeds of the people constituting tradition, culture over 5000 years give a mode of consciousness. Gokak remarked,
Comparing Indianness to human being, we have said that style is its manner of speech, theme its flesh and blood, dating its local habitation, imagery its subtle body, literary form its wardrobe, rhythm its voice and the writer’s philosophy its bone structure. It is this consubstantiation of historical events and achievements in India that constitute the soul of Indianness.(Gokak 11)
Apart from writers like Tagore and Dr.Radhakrishnan who lent a distinct stamp of Indianness in their works, even journalists like Shri Chalapathirao ran journals like ‘Triveni’ which brought the rich wealth in this field and to such journals Gokak frequently contributed articles. In addition, The Calcutta Writers Workshop nursed and nourished the works of Indian writings in English. It published the works of poets like P.Lal, Raghavendra Rao, Kamala Das, A.K.Ramanujam, Nissim Ezekiel, and Shankar Mokashi Punekar, which gave a new impetus in fostering the culture of Indianess among the new generation of the twentieth century.
A literary historian who adored the office of the President of the
Sahitya Academy befittingly, Gokak bestowed his attention in presenting to the English reading public the varied literatures of India, rich in their expression and racy in their ethos. Himself a pioneer of modem Kannada poetry, he brought the great legacy of Indian literature steeped in mysticism and Sufism to the notice of the people. The Sahitya Academy has undertaken to encourage translations and adaptation of ancient Indian epics and sacred books. The classics like Ramayana had its regional champions in Kamban, Tikkanna, Ezuthachen, Tulsidas whose renderings forged links between the people and their works.
Dr. Mulk Raj Anand brought Indianness to his English writings by introducing Indian idioms and collocations. Dr .Radhakrishnan Indianised his philosophical writings by using words like ‘Maya’ and ‘Karma’. The setting of ‘Savitri’ is essentially Indian as its theme. Sri Aurobindo’s contributions in Indianising Indian Writing in English through his themes as well as his style and diction, are more pronounced.
He tries to achieve sublimity in style on the lines of Milton. Occult experience, Gokak argues, is not the exclusive prerogative of Indian writers
alone. Even English poets like Blake have given ample evidence of such strange experiences in their poems. W.B Yeats could be equally mystic as any other Indian writer.
Indian literature has had a hoary background before the dawn of Christian era, existing as part of its culture of nearly 5000 years, first in oral tradition, then in inscriptions, followed by the northern and southern Indian languages. The Middle ages in India saw the advent of Islam through religious divines, later through Moghul conquerors who in their six to seven century of rule settled down to a partnership of responsibilities synthesizing Hinduism and Islam, fostering a culture of tolerance and harmony. Then came the English first as traders later turned as rulers bringing in, the westernized English education.
The literatures in Indian languages, which had flourished all along, and with the impact of the Western influence resulted in a renaissance first through Bengal, which later spread to the different parts. The emergence of Hindu and Urdu gave to the country a common medium of contact and communication.
In a way, the renaissance revealed. the grandeur of our own heritage in the resurrection of the ancient spirit. Sir William Jones, Rider, Goethe and Max Muller interpreted the glory of this heritage to the West. Subsequently the spirit of nationalism gave an added impetus. Bankim Chandra and Tagore came to lead. Tilak Agarkar, and Apte in Maharastra, Kukke Seetharam Shastri , Sri Aurobind and host of eminent writers spearheaded parallel movements in various parts of the country. For governance, Sanskrit, Persian and Urdu vied with one another with the nation settling down to Hindi as the official language with English being given the status of official associates language.
Outlining this epic journey in the finding of Indianness, Gokak approximated to the mode of consciousness called Indian, which took shape in the course of thousands of years of conquest, coexistence and tolerance. Freed from any philosophical system or metaphysical creed, this consciousness came to form the warp and woof of Indian culture visible through the literatures that flourished in the sub-continent.
Reiterating the stand taken by Dr S Radhakrishnan that Indian literature is one though written in many languages, it has staked a claim for recognition in seats of higher learning. Though students all along had specialized in one course, Indian literature in its broad catholicity presents a variegated spectrum.
The development of the Indian novel follows certain definite patterns and it is not difficult to trace its gradual progression from the imitative stage to the realistic to psychological to the experimental stage. In spite of its diverse culture, races and
religions Indian writing in English has successfully recaptured and reflected the multi-cultural, multilingual society. As a result, it has aroused a good deal of various writers get not only a vast critical acclaim.
The term Indian writing is used in a wider sense. This is the body of work by the writers whose mother tongue is one of the languages of multilingual India. There are three types of Indian writers in English. Among them first set of writers those who have acquired their entire education in English schools and universities. Second set of writers Indians who have settled abroad but they are constantly in touch with the changing surrounding and traditions of their country of adaptation. Finally writers belong to India and who have acquired English as a second language.
A large number of Indians were greatly moved by the genuine desire to present before the Western readers an authentic picture of India through their writings. Many Indian writers have chosen English as a medium of expression and left a great impact on different form of literature. For example Toru Dutt, Pandita Ramabai Saraswathi, Sri Aurobindo, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Mulk Raj Anand, R.K.Narayan, Raja Rao, Nissim Ezekiel, Nayantara Sahgal, Kamala Das, Jayant Mahapatra, Anita Desai, Bharati Mukherjee and Salman Rushdie.
Some recent Indian writers such as Arunthati Roy, Kiran Desai, Aravind Adiga, Chetan Bhagat and many others. They have been using English to represent the Indian culture and spirit. Indian writing in English expresses a shared tradition, cultural experiences and Indian heritage. Early Indian writers have used many Indian words and the experiences throughout their works of art. R.K.Narayan has created Malgudi similar to Thomas Hardy’s Wessex.
After 1980, it was the period of new fiction the dominant figures are Salman Rushdie, Sashi Tharoor and Arundhati Roy. Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (1987) especially achieves great success, betokens a new era in the history of Indian
writing in English. In recent times, more and more Indian English writers have been showing their ingenious works like The God of Small Things (1997) by Arundhati Roy, The Inheritance of Loss (2006) by Kiran Desai and The White Tiger (2008) by Aravind Adiga won the Booker Prize. Indian English fiction is gradually more in the spotlight in the literary position in the world.
Salman Rushdie is the most notable among all the Indian writers in English. His Midnight’s Children (1980) won the Booker Prize in 1981. Other remarkable writers include Shashi Tharoor, Bnarati Mukherjee, Vikram Seth, Khushwant Singh, Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande, Amitav Ghosh, Bharati Kichner, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, Jhumpa Lahiri, C.R.Krishnan, Vikas Swarup, Chetan Bhaagat and Aravind Adiga.
The use of English for the exposition of India views has opened up new gateways of the interpretation of Indian scenario. Raja Ram Mohan Roy an advocate of English education was the first Indian to write prose in English. Mahatma Gandhi’s writing was marked by simplicity, pointedness and clarity of thought, which are the essential attributes of a good prose. His The Story of My Experiments with Truth (1940) is a great work.
Jawaharlal Nehru’s principal works include Glimpses of World History (1934), Autobiography: Towards Freedom (1936) and Discovery of India (1946). Dr. Radhakrishnan, a great writer and philosopher expressed philosophical thoughts. Swami Vivekananda’s speeches and writing spread over the volumes. Other legendry thinkers like Keshab Chander sen, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Rabindranath Tagore and Dayanan Saraswathi, the founder of Arya Samaj have contributed for social, educational and religious reforms through their works.
Indian writers possess the gift of storytelling from the time of Rig-Veda and Upanishad. There was thirty two tales of the throne dealing with king Vikramaditya or
Somadeva’s Kathasaritasager. In the beginning the translations of the western classics have appeared. Then translation took the form of adoption and summarization and finally the creation of the original works took place in the form of an imitation of the western models.
Kailash Chander Dutt’s A Journey of 48 Hours of the Year of 1945 appeared in the Calcutta Literary Gazette on 6 June 1835 in which an imaginary but successful revolt against the Britishers was projected. Then appear S.C.Dutt’s Republic 0f Orissa (1854). It describes the imaginary defeat of the Britishers and the establishment of democracy in Orissa.
In nineteenth century, with the publication of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Rajmohan’s Wife (1864), and Lal Behari Day’s Govind Samanta (1874), Indian novel in English grew rapidly in respect of thematic variety and linguistic maturity. It is assumed that Indian novel in English has its roots in nineteenth century realistic tradition of English novel. The impact of English education, national awakening and the influence of European models are the chief factors responsible for the rise and development of Indian novel in English.
Indian novel in English has become thoroughly Indian in terms of themes, techniques and human values. Bakim Chandra Chatterjee (1838-1894) was the founder member of the modern school of Indian fiction in English. He was the first Indian to write a novel in English. Ravindranath Tagore’s Choker Bali, which was originally written in Bengali but it, was translated into English in 1902. Tagore translated many of his works into English, which were originally composed in Bengali. R.C. Dutt has written six novels in Bengali and two of them were translated into English by himself. R. C. Dutt and Tagore influenced the early Indian English novelists.
The time between 1930 and 1965 was a flowering period of the novel form. Three pillars of Indian novels in English, Mulk Raj Anand, R.K.Narayan and Raja Rao
the big three contributed in this period. The credit of fame and reputation to Indian fiction in English goes to them. It was during this period that Indian fiction in English discovered its most significant themes, such as struggle for freedom, East- West encounter, communal problem, plight of poor and untouchables, plight of women and landless poor etc.
Indian fiction in English has heavily laid emphasis on Indian themes. It has expressed the joys and sorrows of Indian people. Realism has always been one of the unique features of Anand’s writing. His major characters are all life like and they are very close to reality. Mulk Raj Anand brought humanism in Indian English fiction by employing the method of storytelling. His novel Untouchable (1935), Coolie (1936), Two Leaves and A Bud (1937), Village (1939) and Across the Black Waters (1970) have dealt with the problems of hunger and poverty, economic exploitation and class distinction.
R. K. Narayan is classified as a novelist of Indian middle class who possessed the comic view of life. After his first episodic novel Swami and his Friends (1935), he made significant experiments with the technique in his later novels. Such as The Bachelor of Arts (1937), The Dark Room(1938),The English Teacher (1945), Mr.Sampath(1949) and The Painter of Signs (1976). Narayan has used local colour and setting has created a small imaginary world of Malgudi in his novels.
Raja Rao created fiction with philosophical bearing. His first novel Kanthapura appeared in 1983. He has also published a number of short stories. The Serpant and the Rope is his most significant work, which appeared in 1960. His other works include The Cat and Shakespeare: A Tale of India (1965), Comrade Kirillov (1976) and The Chess master and his Moves (1988).
After this big trio, the remarkable novelists in the tradition of Indian English fiction are Bhabani Bhattacharya, Kamala Markandaya, Arun Joshi, Manohar
Malgaonkar, Khushwant Singh, R.P.Jhabwala, Nayantara Sahgal, Shashi Deshpande, Chaman Nahal, Anita Desai, Bharati Mukherjee, Salman Rushdie, Shobha De, Arundhati Roy, Chetan Bhagat, Aravind Adiga and many others.
These writers have preferred to write about real Indian. They have preferred to express its terrible poverty, agricultural tradition and its religion as well as caste system. Indian customs and traditions are expressed through their writing. Dr.A.V.Krishna Rao rightly remarked about the novels of post- independence era:
The post-independence novel clearly marks out a new phase of emotional and intellectual growth in Indian literature. The dislocation, the distemper and disenchantment of the past war and the past- independence have had their impact on the Indo- Anglican novel too. (Rao 10)
Before independence Indian writers were forced by the situation of the country to write about the nationalistic zeal. After independence all the writers were free from that bondage so that they started writing about the various issues. Writers started mentioning the important political events, partition of India and its terrible consequences, merging of the China found place in the fiction of the writers like Nayantara Sahgal, Khushwant Singh, Salman Rushdie and Chaman Nahal.
Indian writing in English has witnessed few controversies in its evolvement. It has to prove itself on the grounds of superiority and inferiority compared to literature produced in other Indian languages. If has also witnessed accusations of being superficial, imitative, shallow etc. Indian writers in English have also been criticized of being not real socio-cultural ambassadors of Indian. They have been said to get themselves uprooted from the authentic Indian sense.
However, the new generation of Indian writers in English has handled the
wide range of themes and the subject matters. Shashi Deshpande, Shobha De, Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, Chetan Bhagat, Aravind Adiga and Chitra Banerjee Divakuruni have written on variety of themes. For these writers English is a medium of expression of their creative urge, through which they can reach to the international readers.
New trend is clearly visible after independence as the subject matter changed like communal conflicts, miseries of lower classes, meaninglessness of existence and alienation of an individual. The novel before independence was mainly interested in social, political and historical concerns. The novel in post-independent India seems to be interested in contemporary issues. The psychological novel describing the human personality and inner realities of life replaced the realistic novel.
The novels written in the post- independence period successfully render this Indian reality. Novelists like Arun Joshi, Shashi Deshpande, Anita Desai, Shobha De and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni have explored the psychological and sociological conflicts in the social and the individual’s life. There is a kind of shift from socio political concerns to the inner life of human being. The modern Indian writers wrote about the socio-cultural predicament of the modern man.
Many modern novels have dealt with man’s alienation from his self, his class, his society and humanity at large. In other words, the centre of their novels shifted from society to an individual. C.Paul Verghese’s comment in this regard is worth quoting:
Most of the novelists in their eagerness to find new themes ‘renounced the larger world in favour of the inner man’ and continued ‘a search for the essence of human living’. It is this trend that continued in the seventies and it also shaped the novels of the eighties.(Verghese 148)
The novels of the 1970s laid foundation for the revolution in the fictional technique and sensibility in the novels of 1980s. Unlike 1930s and 1950s last decades of the nineteenth century have marked the significant development and growth of the Indian novel in English. During this period, some very promising Indian novelists and their novels have emerged on a literary scene. The novels of this period delineated private tension, self- alienation and loneliness.
Two most important and remarkable events which happened at the dawn of twenty first century are: Jhumpa Lahiri was awarded Pulitzer Prize for her work Interpreter of Maladies in 2000 and V.S.Naipaul was honoured with Nobel Prize for literature in 2001. Indian novelist has used the English language to spread the message. This language certainly has provided them an opportunity to reach all over the world and to make sure that they do not remain confined to their region, to their people and to their country. The contribution of Arun Joshi, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chetan Bhagat and Aravind Adiga were praiseworthy. In their hands, the Indian English novel has made tremendous progress.
A pioneer figure in the field of modern Indian English literature is Aravind Adiga. He was born in Chennai on 23 October 1974 to Dr.Madhava Adiga and Usha Adiga, both of whom hailed from Mangalore. Adiga grew up in Mangalore and studied at Canara High school, then at St.Aloysius College, where he completed his SSLC in 1990 and secured the first place in his state in SSLC.
After emigrating to Sydney, Australia, with his family, Aravind studied at James Ruse Agricultural High School. He later studied English literature at Columbia College of Columbia University, in New York City, under Simon Schama and graduated as salutatorian in 1997. He also studied Magdalen College, Oxford, where one of his tutors was Hermione Lee.
Adiga began his journalist career as a financial journalist, interning at the
Financial Times. With pieces published in the Financial Times and Money, he converted the stock market and investment, interviewing, amongst others, Donald Trump. His review of previous Booker Prize winner Peter Carey’s book, Oscar and Lucinda appeared in The Second Circle, an online literary review.
He was subsequently hired by Time, where he remained a South Asia correspondent for three years before going freelance. During this freelance period, he wrote The White Tiger. Aravind Adiga now lives in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Aravind Adiga’s debut novel, The White Tiger, won the 2008 Booker Prize. He is the fourth Indian-born author to win the prize, after Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai.
Aravind Adiga’s second book, Between the Assassinations, was released in India in November 2008 and in the US and UK in midst of 2009. There are twelve interlinked short stories comprise this book. His second novel, Last Man in Tower was published in the UK in 2011. His third novel, Selection Day, was published on 8 September 2016. His short stories are The Sultan’s Battery, Smack, Last Christmas in Banbdra and The Elephant.
Aravind Adiga’s works showed the realistic appraisal of the issues facing contemporary Indians, an appraisal that earned his work a place in the canon of contemporary Indian fiction. The individuals within Adiga’s works experience crises involving identity, physical needs, economic hardship and the direction of their personal futures. Further, his characters typically range from impoverished to middle-class backgrounds and span in age from youth to elderly characters.
Adiga often infuses his own multiple-nationality background into his characters, exploring the impact of class and racial differences while simultaneously examining large questions regarding the direction of Indian identity and the experience of Indian residents. He attacked the notion of escaping poverty through his works.
Adiga draws from multiple canons and traditions to fully examine the direction that identity takes when torn between individual autonomy and group loyalty. Through there are many themes in Aravind Adiga’s works the scope of this project was focused on social maladies in his The White Tiger and Between the Assassinations.
The White Tiger is the debut novel by Aravind Adiga. It was first published in 2008 and won the 40th Man Booker Prize in the same year. It was a novel about a compelling, angry and darkly humorous man’s journey of Balram Halwai, the protagonist, a village boy who happened to be a sweet maker to a successful businessman. He never turned back. He was annoyed with the society. He thinks that the poor man in our country is half-baked and he compared them with the chickens which are kept in the Rooster coop.
Balram is referred to as a symbol of power, freedom and individuality. How Balram came out of this Rooster coop and how the quest for freedom made him to face the critical situation that involves murder, cheating, bribery and stealing are the major themes of the book. The White Tiger is a book about a man’s quest for freedom and social milieus.
Balram, the protagonist in this novel worked his way out of his low caste and overcame the social obstacles that limited his family in the past. To complete the mission to become an entrepreneur he does everything and achieves it by killing his master. By doing this, he showed the picture of modern India and educates the masses about the criminal who were born due to inequality, corruption and injustice in the society.
In Adiga’s novel, Balram Halwai is exploited in many ways by the Stork’s family and he exploits the family and its reputation more than that he receives. Even Ashok, who is a modern educated liberal man, becomes victimised in Balram’s hand. Unlike the portrayal of other Oriental writers, Adiga’s India is not a place where the
westerners come for spiritual wisdom. The impact of globalization has turned exotic India into a prospective country for investment for the westerners, who are coming to India to set up their own enterprises for the availability of cheap skilled labour in India. Even the very title does not suggest any exoticism; rather it is the symbol of rare strength and power. Indians possess a prolonged tradition of strong family bonding.
In the book Between the Assassinations, Aravind Adiga brings voices, all inhabitants of the fictional town of kittur. His new book sizzles with the same humour, anger and humanity that characterized in his earlier work The White Tiger. On Indian’s south western coast, between Goa and Calcutta lays Kittur, a small nondescript every day town. Aravind Adiga acts as our guide to the town, mapping the overlapping lives of Kittur’s residents.
Between the Assassinations depicts the journey of Indian society from aspiration to disillusionment by raising very vital issues of national importance such as caste, class and religious fanaticism through a story of ‘Everyman of every town’ of the period of transition between the assassinations of Indra Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. These issues were deep rooted in our psyche and were resistant to change.
Though exiled by centuries of India’s rigid caste, class and religious pride, thrust into the dismal outskirts of society, Adiga’s characters who are victims of the system somehow feel an immense connectedness to realities, a passion for the subtleties in the world around them. Those characters long for a dignity which they may never know.
This dissertation entitled, Social Maladies in Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger and Between the Assassinations is presented in four chapters. The first chapter gives an account of social and literary background of Indian writing in English. It provides introduction to modern novelists in Indian literature in English in general and Aravind Adiga in particular. The second chapter dealt with the social maladies in
Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger. The third chapter depicts the social maladies in Aravind Adiga’s Between the Assassinations. Finally the fourth chapter is the conclusion with ideas discussed in earlier chapters.
Social Maladies in Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger
The White Tiger is the story of Balram Halwai’s life as a self-dedared rickshaw driver’s son who skilfully climbs India’s social ladder to become a chauffeur and later a successful business man. Balram recounts his life story in a letter to visiting Chinese official Premier Wen Jiabao, with the goal of educating the Premier about entrepreneurship in India.
The story if my upbringing is the story of how a half-baked fellow is produced. But pay attention, Mr. Premier! Fully formed fellows, after twelve years of school and three years of university, wear nice suits, join companies, and take orders from other men for the rest of their lives. Entrepreneurs are made from half-baked clay. (Adiga 11)
Balram writes from his luxurious office in the city of Bangalore, but the story begins in his rural ancestral village of Laxmangahr. Throughout his childhood, Balram’s destitute family lives at the mercy of four cruel, exploitative landlords. Those landlords were referred to as the Animals: The Raven, The Stork, The Buffalo and the Wild Boar. Despite the difficult life he is born into Balram excels in school. His academic potential and personal integrity distinguish him classmates, bringing him to the attention of a visiting school inspector who nicknames him the White Tiger, after the most rare and intelligent creature in the forest.
Balram’s parents recognize his potential and want him to complete his education however he can do and has those potential too. When he and his brother Kishan begin working in a teashop in nearby Dhanbad, alarm neglects his duties and spends his days listening to customer’s conversations. He overhears one customer speaking wistfully about the high earnings and easy life that Indian’s private chauffeurs enjoy, and begs his grandmother to send him to driving school.
Kusum agrees, but Balram must promise to send home his wages once he finds a job. His training completed Balram knocks on the door of Dhanbad’s rich families for offering his services. By a stroke of luck, he arrived at the mansion of the stork (one of Laxmangahr’s animal landlords). One day after the Storks’ son, Mr.Ashok, returns from America with his wife Pinky Madam. The family hires Balram to become Ashok’s driver. In reality, Balram is more of a general servant to the family. While another servant, Ram Persad has the privilege of driving them.
Balram learns that the Stork’s family fortune comes from illegally selling coal out of government mines. They bribe ministers to turn a blind eye to their fraudulent business and allow the family to avoid paying income tax. Unfortunately, the family recently had a disagreement with region’s ruling politician, referred to as the Great Socialist. The family dispatches Ashok and Pinky to Delhi, where Ashok will distribute more bribe to make amends. When Balram learns that the couple will need a driver in Delhi, he schemes to have Ram Persad dismissed and goes in his place.
Once in Delhi, Balram witness pinky and Ashok’s marriage rapidly to the US and leaves her husband after she kills a young child in a drunken, hit and run accident. In her absence, Ashok goes out to bars and clubs, hiring a prostitute one night and reconnecting with a former lover on another. Observing his master’s gradual corruption and driving him through Delhi’s seedier districts. Balram becomes disillusioned and resentful. Although Ashok is a relatively kind master, Balram realizes that whatever generosity Ashok has shown him is only a fraction of what he can afford.
Ashok has no real interest in helping Balram achieve a better life, or in changing the status. Balram plans to murder Ashok and escape with the bag of the money that he carries around the city to bribe politicians. In addition to the risk of being caught, Balram has contend with the logic of the Rooster Coop, which is the
system of oppression in which India’s poor like Balram himself, are trapped. Balram knows that if he kills Ashok, Ashok’s family will murder all his own relatives in Laxmangahr in retaliation.
Balram is also held back by the arrival in Delhi young cousin Dharam, who Kusum send from Dhanbad with the demand that Balram help raise him. Balram finally resolves to proceed with the murder, using a weapon he has fashioned out of a broken liquor bottle. One day as he drives Ashok to deliver a particular large bribe, Balram pretends that there is a mechanical problem with the car.
Balram pulls over, convinces Ashok to kneel down and examine the wheel, then bring the broken bottle down on Ashok’s head. After killing his master, he returns to Ashok’s apartment, collects Dharam, and escapes with his young cousin to Bangalore. In Bangalore, Balram begins wandering the city and listening to conversation in cafes just as he did in the teashop in Dhanbad, to plan his next move. He soon learns that Bangalore’s business world revolves around outsourcing and that many large technology companies work on a nocturnal schedule.
Balram creates a taxi company called White Tiger Drivers to bring call centre workers home safely at night, and the venture is an enormous success. By the time he sits down to tell his story. Though Balram became wealthy man, still fear of his crime crouched his mind rottenly, that one day his crime will be discovered. He concludes his letter o web Jiabao claiming that even if he is found out, he will never regret his crime. Because it enabled him to experience life as a free man rather than as a servant.
Throughout the novel, Balram described family as a destructive and burdensome part of Indian life, which prevent its members from pursuing individual advancement and liberty. Balram’s grandmother Kusum embodies this negative image of family in the story. She short-sightedly pulls both Balram and his brother
Kishan out of school at a young age, and attempts to arrange both brothers’ marriage early in life before they are able to support families of their own. The rich are similarly burdened by familial obligation and interference. Even Balram wealthy master Ashok complains of his father and brother’s attempts to expert control over his personal life. Balram further believes that the traditional Indian family unit keeps the Rooster Coop of social inequality alive. If servant attempts to escape or disobey his employer, the superior’s family will punish the servant by murdering or brutally torturing his family. In this way, familial loyalty and love becomes weaknesses that can stop an individual from being able to advance.
The arrival of Balram’s young cousin Dharam in Delhi fits into this pattern. Just when Balram has resolved to murder his master Ashok, Kusum sends Dharam to live and work with Balram. For better or for worse, this new responsibility of caring for his relative initially prevents him from executing this plan and taking a radical step to alter his future.
Ultimately Balram does carry out his plan to murder Ashok, knowingly sacrificing his own family to brutal and propably fatal vengeance in the process. He cuts loose his own family in order to free himself. That the family plays this negative role in Balram’s world is a reflection of the deeply corrupt and immoral state of Indian society, which transforms even the most sacred, intimate relationships between people into tools of oppression that someone like Balram feels he must escape in order to achieve freedom and success.
Balram believes that a fluid approach to identity is essential for successful entrepreneurship. He adopts a new name each time he moves up within Indian’s social hierarchy-Munna, Balram, Ashok, The White Tiger and describes with admiration his childhood hero Vijay, a pig farmer’s son turned wealthy politician for his versatile sense of self. Balram claims that self-made entrepreneurs are not only
adaptable with respect to identity but also subject to a more fluid legal and moral code.
Throughout the novel he argues that entrepreneurs in India can only become successful by breaking the law and that this fact justifies their criminal activity. As a servant who murders his master and rises in society without suffering any consequences, Balram embodies this principle. At the same time, his triumphant retelling of his crimes and minimal expression of remorse paints a bleak portrait of Indian society. It is a world in which rising to the top involves cultivating indifference to human suffering, particularly the suffering of one’s inferiors. Balram’s own experience of cruelty at the hands of his more powerful masters seems not to contribute to his sense of compassion, but rather to his desire to become a master himself. Adiga remarked it as,
The Rooster Coop doesn’t always work with minuscule sums of money. Don’t test your chauffer with a rupee coin or two- he may well steal that much. But leave a million dollars in front of servant and he won’t touch a penny. Try it: leave a black bag with a million dollars in a Mumbai taxi. The taxi driver will call the police and return the money by the day’s end. I guarantee it. (Whether the police will give it to you or not is another story, sir!)Master trusts their servants with diamonds in this country! It’s true. Every evening on the train out of Surat, where they run the world’s biggest diamond-cutting and polishing business, the servant of diamond merchant are carrying suitcases full of cut diamonds that they have to give to someone in Mumbai. Why doesn’t that servant take the suitcase full of diamond? He’s no Gandhi, he’s you and me. But he’s in the Rooster Coop. The trustworthiness of servant is the basis of the entire Indian economy. (Adiga 175)
The Rooster coop is Balram’s metaphor for describing the oppression of Indian’s poor. Rooster is a coop at the market watch one another slaughtered one by one, but are unable or unwilling to rebel and break out of the coop. Similarly, Indian’s poor people see one another crushed by the wealthy as well as powerful class and defeated by the staggering inequality of Indian society but are unable to escape from the same fate.
The White Tiger portrays as India that has not only lost its traditional and social structure but also outgrown a conventional moral framework. Balram’s description of the Light India versus the Dark India in the novel, which subverts usual associations of light with virtue and darkness with immorality, reflects this upset of moral values. Light India is not virtuous at all.
I am talking of a place in India, at least a third of the country, a fertile place, full of rice fields and wheat fields and ponds in the middle of those fields choked with lotuses and water lilies, and water buffaloes wading through the ponds and chewing on the lotuses and lilies. Those who live in this place call it the Darkness. Please understand, Your Excellency, that India is two countries in one: an India of Light, and an India of Darkness. The ocean brings light of my country. Every place on the map of India near the ocean is well-off. But the river brings darkness to India –the black river. (Adiga 14)
Rather, its member does whatever necessary to preserve their own wealth and power, acting morally only when it is convenient for them. They are light primarily in the sense that they can actually see the light wealthy and luxury, much as a plant might grow tall enough to see the light of day further its own growth. Meanwhile, Rooster coop logic prevails over Dark India where men dutifully behave according to familial and religious values. Because they are terrified into submission
and not out of genuine desire to lead a good life. In both cases, people sacrifice morality as they fight for survival within India’s cutthroat social landscape.
Traditional Indian values founded on deep religious faith and the teaching of venerated national heroes like Gandhi is similarly comprised. Throughout the book, Balram goes through the motion of religious faith and prayer largely to impress his master with his devotion. He argues that he is both sly and sincere at the same time this fickle embrace of faith is typical of Indian culture. Indians have a deep yearning for their past, when their country strived so heroically to define the terms of morality for itself.
In the midst of India’s moral upset, Balram develops his own personal moral framework founded on his sense of himself as a white tiger which is a rare creature with superior intelligence that lives in the forest but is exempt from is rules. His embrace of this notion that he is special and therefore deserves to exist outside legal and moral codes allows him to justify murdering his master Ashok, knowingly and callously exposing his own family to likely fatal vengeance. So that he can begin his first business White Tiger Drivers, with Ashok’s money.
Balram believes that the struggle to escape social and economic subjugation in Indian society to go freelance and achieve control over one’s future, trumps traditional notions of good versus evil and God versus devil rendering actions the reader might consider immoral understandable, and yet depicting the society that could make such actions understandable as brutally lost and corrupt.
Balram’s rise within Indian society takes place in the aftermath of India’s liberation from British rule and overthrow of India’s traditional caste system. Through the caste system unjustly segregated India’s population and restricted social mobility, locking each member firmly into a single way of life, Balram maintains that its abolition did nothing to improve inequality.
Instead he describes how India went from being an orderly zoo where each member of the thousand castes at least had his or her place to being a jungle where only the law of predator or prey, eat or to be eaten applied. One either fights ruthlessly for self advancement at the expense of others or becomes a slave to those more powerful than it.
This chaotic struggle for power and survival results in two parallel Indians as the darkness with poor and rural India versus the light with urban, wealth and sophisticated India. The extremely wealthy people of Light India oppress the extremely poor people of Dark India to such a degree that those in the darkness are not even conscious of their own oppression. Over the course of the novel, Balram becomes increasingly aware of the corrupt forces which have maintained this stark inequality.
Balram develops the metaphor of the Rooster coop, in which oppression of the poor is so complete that the oppression internalizes and perpetuates their own subjugation. In a country where the rules are stacked so overwhelmingly against the poor, Balram comes to believe that to create a better life and break out of the Rooster coop.
One must be willing to sacrifice everything, including attachment to traditional ideas of good versus bad and even one’s family. In short, individuals must wilfully become radically independent and prioritize wealth and power over morals to escape from poverty and lack of consequences for his crimes results in a belief that the end justifies the means and frees him from having to examine himself or his world more critically.
Throughout Balram’s narrative, Adiga constantly exposes the prevalence of corruption through all of India’s institutions. Schools, hospitals, police, elections, industries and every aspect of government are thoroughly corrupt, while practices
such as bribery and fraud are entirely commonplace. Balram’s approach to this truth largely involves a deeply cynical humour.
However, there is an ugly component to his Character. In order to escape the darkness and enter into the light, Balram must himself become a part of this system. His victory is thus bittersweet, while he has succeeded in elevating his social position, he continues to live in a country paralyzed by corruption, which prevents true progress from taking place. Adiga’s ultimate pain seems to be that corruption, unless of course a greater revolution remakes society.
The India described by Balram is in the throes of a major transformation, heralded in part by the advent of globalization. India finds itself at the crossroads of developments in the fields of technology and outsourcing, as the nation adapts to address the needs of a global economy. Balram recognizes and hopes to ride the wave of the future with his Whiter Tiger Technology Drivers business in Bangalore, but this force of globalization has a darker component for him as well.
It threatens and disenfranchises those adhering to a traditional way of life, such as his family in Laxmangarh. Hence, he must change who he is in order to compete in this new world. Adiga thus vividly conjures the tension between the old and new India, suggesting that succeeding in this world requires a flurry of ethical and personal compromises.
The White Tiger is a story about how education formal and otherwise shapes individuals as well. Balram first receives his nickname as the white tiger in a classroom setting. Though he attempts to embody his name by cultivating a ruthless, cunning streak and competing in Indian society in the course of the novel, he originally earned the description for academic promise and integrity.
After being pulled out of school at an early age, Balram is left with only bits and pieces of a formal education. This leads him to refer to himself as a half
baked Indian. He sees his half baked education not as a weakness, but half rather as one of the preconditions for an entrepreneurial spirit. He believes that having to take responsibility for one’s own education requires and builds an inventive, resourceful mind and responds to the abrupt end of his schooling by learning what he can on the job.
Balram claims he is not an original thinker, but rather an original listener and pieces together an understanding of India by eavesdropping at work, transforming dead-end, menial jobs into learning opportunities. As an adult, Balram respects traditional learning to a degree. He enjoys the proximity and physical presence of books, but also sneers at the musty foul taste they leave in his mouth. Balram learns more from the road and the pavement, from studing the constant changes of Indian society to cultivate the flexibility and adaptability he believes a self-made man should posses all mentioned qualities in him.
In general, Balram emphasizes the importance of being attuned to one’s surroundings. As a child, he alone out of all the villagers became fascinated with the Black Fort which is a beautiful old building in his town constructed by a foreign power few years ago. He claims that the other villagers remain slaves because they can’t see what is beautiful in this world and that by contrast, his innate ability to find in erect and beauty in his environment marked him early on deserving of a better life.
The entire story exposes the social maladies that surround India in the backdrop of economic prosperity, in the wake of IT revolution. Balram the killer metamorphoses into his master’s replica often 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. Speaking on the servant master relationship, Adiga says:
The servant-master system implies two things: one is that the
servant has no possibility of ever catching 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 maser getting killed by his servant is rare…. you need two thing (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 class based resentment for the first time. (Sawhney, 2008)
Balram Halwai is presented as a modern Indian hero, in the midst of the economic prosperity of India in the recent past. His climbing of the ladder of success is based on the philosophy of revenge, ambition and corruption. He 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.
In justice and inequality has always been Adiga highlights the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor and the economic system that lets a small minority. 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. Balram becomes a true professional busy handling crisis situations sitting in his office. He recalls what poet Mizra Ghalib wrote about slaves,” they remain slaves because they can’t see what is beautiful in the world” (Adiga 40).
His thirst for freedom came alive when he visited his native village while Mr. Ashok and his wife Pinky went on an excursion.
….It was a very important trip for me, and one I hope to describe in greater detail when time permits. For now, all I want to tell you is this: while Mr.Ashok and Pinky Madam were relaxing, having eaten lunch, I had nothing to do, so I decided to try again. I swam through the pond, walked up the hill, went into the doorway, and entered the Black Fort for the first. There wasn’t much around- just some broken walls and bunch of frightened monkey watching me from a distance. 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’ mansions- and my own house, with that dark little cloud outside- the water buffalo. It looked like the most beautiful sight on earth. (Adiga 41-42)
Adiga is so pictorial in his description of the protagonist, who plans his crime well in advance. His disgusting act of splitting repeatedly in the direst ion of his village could be a sign of final rejection of everything he holds dear, to escape from the rooster coop of misery. In portraying the character of Balram, Adiga has excelled in projecting a typical sociopath, our society can churn out. 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 2008)
Balram’s 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 street for just four and a half rupees so that even the poor can buy it”(The White Tiger,p.125). He feels degraded as a human being, deprived of basic human right to enter a shopping mall. A poor driver couldn’t enter a mall as he belonged to the poor class.
Balram’s master Ashok lived in a new apartment called Buckingham Tower A- Block, which was one of the best in Delhi. Ashok spent a lot of time visiting malls, 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 bringing someone with a million rupee:
‘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 million rupees in a bribe, Mukesh, and now we’re screwing this man over for a single rupee. Let’s o 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. (Adiga 139)
Such mean behaviour of the masters continues 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 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 Ashok’s wife Pinky kills a man in drunken driving. He was forced to sign a statement accepting full responsibility for the accident. It is seen through Balram’s own statement as:
I, Balram Halwai, 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 this year. That I then panicked and refused to fulfil my obligations to the injured party or parties by taking them to the nearest hospital emergency ward. That there were no other occupants of the car, and alone responsible for all that happened. (Adiga 167)
When Pinky Madam left Ashok suddenly in rage, Balram had driven her to the airport in the middle of the night for which he was rewarded with a fat brown envelope filled with forty seven hundred rupees. Introspecting on the tip Balram recounts:
Forty-seven hundred rupees. In that brown envelope under my bed. Odd sum of money- wasn’t it? There was a mystery to be solved here. Let’s see. May be 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 rupees, and another hundred. That’s how cheap they are. (Adiga 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 the sheer spite for the rich Balram serves, he expresses his frustration in mean acts like those mentioned. His going to the red light 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 travelled with Ashok in the car and had illegal relationship. He takes pleasure in collecting every strands of female hair.
Balram had done 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 similar as the prey and the 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. 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 for freedom.
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 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 the characters of Balram and Ashok.
Balram frequently discusses the issues of social mobility in the new social hierarchy of India. Having idolized Vijay from childhood, Balram recognizes the possibility of moving up in the world, but has to confront the reality of such movement throughout his story. One of the big issue is how India’s social system, people’s fates were predetermined, but they were happy, believing they belonged somewhere. However, the new social structure promises the possibility of social mobility, but actually only offers two social divisions, the rich and the poor.
The poor are kept in an eternal stste of subservience and servitude to rich by the mechanism that Balram dubs “The Roosterr Coop.”However, they are now unhappy because there is a possibility of social mobility that nevertheless remains out of their grasp. Balram ultimately finds a way to break from the Rooster Coop, but it requires him to compromise his ethics and personality, he has to kill his master and betray his family. That social mobility is a spectre captured only through such difficult means is a comment on the unfortunate reality of a world built more on limitations than possibility.
This novel is largely a story of self fashioning, as balram undergoes a
transformative journey to construct his own identity. Inspired by his childhood hero, Vijay, who also rose from a humble background to achieve success in the upper echelons of Indian society, Balram dedicates himself to self- improvement, so much so that he is willing to destroy who he once was. He sees identity as fluid and malleable, a fact articulated through the many name changes he employs throughout the story.
Ultimately, he even chooses new identity for himself in imitation of his master, calling himself Ashok Sharma. And yet the novel is full of dramatic irony revealing that Balram cannot fully repudiate the person he once was. He remains full of unresolved guilt and provincial superstitions, reminding us that while identity might be entirely fluid, it is also entirely immovable as well.
The White Tiger is a novel of morality, suggesting that morality can be viewed as either rigid or flexible. Balram eventually embraces the latter option. In order to justify murdering Ashok and risking his family’s lives, Balram develops an alternate moral system. He reasons that the money he steals from Ashok is rightfully his, since servants are exploited by the rich, and he convinces himself of his exceptionalism as ‘the White Tiger’ in order to rationalize his decision.
Believing he is the only one who has truly woken up to the truth of the ‘Rooster Coop’, he feels compelled to change his life. In this sense, Balram has become a version of Nietzche’s Ubermensch, or over-man, who believes himself to be above the moral and legal limitations of society. Adiga poses a question through Balram, do we blame a criminal for his decision, or do we try to understand those decisions as reactions to an overly oppressive and restrictive society. Assuming that a reader does not have a definite answer, Adiga suggests then that morality is a fluid and unfixed concept.
The White Tiger abounds with instances of twined pairs and dualities; each corresponding to one half a central dichotomies is the rich and the poor halves of India. Balram poses India as broken up into two sections, the darkness and the light. Examples
of twinned pair from of these two halves include the men with small bellies and the men with big bellies. The hospital where Balram’s father dies and the city hospital visited by the stork and the beautiful blonde prostitute visited by Ashok and the uglier, faux-blonde prostitute hired by Balram, the apartment building in Delhi and its servants quarter below and the two versions of all markets in India.
The most significant of these twinned pair is or course, Ashok and Balram themselves. It is telling that Balram, the narrator, and view the world as split into halves. It reveals the extent to which oppression has ruined his worldview. Another means by which Adiga explores this theme is through the symbolic rear view mirror, which doubles everything through a reflection and hence functions as a conduct for the confrontation between Ashok and Balram. This particular image suggests that identity can be transformed across the divide-one can move from one area to another.
Other instances of dualities in the text serve to further highlight the extent of Balram’s transformation for example the two car accidents in the novel demonstrates just how for Balram has come in his quest to become a successful entrepreneur. Balram was once a pawn in the game, where as in the latter case he has found the power to be a representative of more fortunate light.
The extended Indian family plays an incredibly significant role in the traditional way of life in the darkness. Though the poor ostensibly view this contrast as strength, Balram comes to see it as another way through which the poor are kept in the rooster coop. Firstly, the expectations of family enforce limitations that can quash individual ambitioin. Further a servant’s disobedience is visited upon his family and servants remain trapped by the whims of their masters.
Social mobility becomes impossible. In order to break free and live the life of a successful entrepreneur in Bangalore, a city representing a new India, Balram must sacrifice his family. This conundrum seems to suggest that in order to thrive in the
modern world and embrace the potentials of a New India, this traditional attachment to the family must be relinquished in favour of a new found emphasis in individualism.
The White Tiger delivers an invincible central character and India bristling with economic possibility, competing loyalties and class struggle. It is the story of a rickshawallah’s move from the ‘darkness’ of rural India to the ‘light’of urban Gorgon. It reminds us of the harsh facts behind the fiction. It also considers the relationship between inequality and violent crime. In this novel, Aravind Adiga tells the shocking, apparently amoral story of a young man who brutally murders his employer and gets away with it:
The White Tiger follows a darkly comic Bangalore driver through the poverty and corruption of modern India’s caste society–a narrative genius with a mischief and personality all its own. Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international publishing sensation–and a startling, provocative debut (Amazon.com review)
In the past six decades, the turbulent changes took place for the betterment of Indian society. These changes have reversed the long-established order and the old securities of life. A lot of poorer Indians are left confused and perplexed by the new Indian that is being formed around them. In this outstanding novel, Arvind Adiga takes us into an anxious world of darkness and devastation.
Adiga not only brings out the hideous facets of class division, corruption and inequality, but the consequences to which all these issues can lead an individual and a nation. The novel describes the violent crime committed by a person for his private aspiration. In the novel, the threat of violence emerges from the similar cause being pushed backwards and denial of basic rights.
A major focus is on India of Light with access to education, health care,
transportation facilities, roads, hospitality, electricity, rapid growth of technology,
running water, hope, justice, emerging entrepreneurial power in the world surpassing
China. India’s rapid advancement in the field of science and technology, space, real
estate, yoga and meditation, hotel and tourism industry, expansion of cities and mall
culture, Delhi is adulated as Young America in India. The voice of the underclass is strongly articulated.
The White Tiger discusses the various evil systems like riots in election, corruption, poverty, unemployment, educational system and misuse of welfare
schemes. Adiga dares to explore the horrible reality of India, in the current years, like his contemporary Chetan Bhagat, Amita Bagchi and Swati Kushal. The White Tiger is set in the backdrop of economic boom in India that has ushered in great chasm between ‘the haves and haves not’. Bloody acts, opportunism, entrepreneurial success of Balram, emergence of Socialists in India alarm that the voice of the underclass cannot be ignored for long.
Adiga represents social realism of ‘new’ India through The White Tiger. The novel highlights the age-old worries, anxieties of the downtrodden. It is a pulsating critique of the deep-rooted socio-economic inequality rampant in India. He focuses on
the poverty which is somewhat responsible for the every criminal activity. He also wants to depict the corruption, immorality in the Indian society.
Adiga throughout the novel constantly stresses the fact that there is not just an unequal distribution of wealth but even of human rights in the society. As a result of this, the poor find themselves at the mercy of the rules set by the rich. In his narrative, Balram mentions an incident where a landlord’s son from his village is kidnapped by the naxals. Unable to reach to kidnappers, the landlord lashes out all his frustration and anger at the servant who was the caretaker of his son. The servant is tortured and later shot dead, not only this even his entire family is brutally killed and his house is set on fire.
Adiga’s main focus in the novel was to make the people to see how the large majority of the people have been suffering in the country. Their life has become a curse to them. The rich have been enjoying the fruit of the scientific and economic development of the nation. The life of the poor has become worse in the process. This continuous degradation of the poor has not been appropriately represented in the media so as to work on their well-being.
The serious images that appear about modern India are that of the rising economic, scientific and political power in the world scenario. Under the spell of these shining images, the policy makers and the people fail to see the sufferings of the downtrodden. To Adiga, for India to claim emancipation in social, cultural, economic and educational terms, it must make sure to provide good quality education and uplift the living condition of the vast majority of the poor. The White Tiger seems to take its origin from social inequalities obtaining in Indian society. A literary scholar Raymond Williams remarks:
In a class-society there are primarily inequalities between classes.
Gramsci therefore introduced the necessary recognition of dominance and subordination in what has still, however, to be recognized as a whole process. (Raymond Williams 108)
Adiga uses dark humour frequently in The White Tiger to emphasize the immorality of the rich and the poor. Balram gives many satirical accounts of immorality. He says that every administrative officer knows exactly where to find him but they do not. He casts his vote more faithfully but for nothing. For him, everything is a mockery or just for name sake. Balram mocks the rich for their extravagance and corruption. But he also mocks his fellow members of the servant class for their own cruelty. When Balram goes home to visit his family members, they chastise him for not sending enough money home.
The story revolves around the tiger imprisoned in the cage. It is similar to
the low-class imprisoned in the cage of the suppressing class. The circumstances and society of India is similar to the tiger which is bound and chained in the cage. Balram’s success is based on the bribe he gave to political institution. He is unable to draw a line difference between justice and fairness. He is living in a country where one can prove himself through money, power and industry. No one is committed to moral values.
Social maladies in Aravind Adiga’s Between the Assassinations
The novel has been set in a fictional town of Kittur, a microcosm of India, a small and ordinary town in India. The author has given us a glimpse of the various ills affecting the various character sketches. The characters are representative of various classes and castes that inhabit our society. In the words of Vikas Swarup ” Aravind Adiga, has boldly gone where few Indian writers choose to venture, casting his gaze beyond the complacent smugness of middle- class drawing rooms to the anger and squalor lurking in the underbelly of urban India”.( Swarup 11)
Between the Assassinations showcases the most beloved aspects of Adiga’s writing to brilliant effect regarding the class struggle rendered personal and the fury of the underdog. Adiga has aptly captured the reality of our society in a kaleidoscopic manner in this novel. He has captured the various malpractices that are rampant in our society such as corruption, child labour, social discrimination on the ground of caste, religion, class and gender through a story of ‘Everyman’ of ‘Everytown’ of the period of transition between the assassinations of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi from 1984 to 1991.
Adiga’s structures his collection of short stories as a day by day guide for a visitor coming to Kittur. The firat short story, Day one:the Railway Station, details the life of a Muslim boy Zianddin. The boy comes to Kittur to find a job. He is adamant about his heritage as a pathan, which causes him to work for a foreigner who is planning an attack on Indian soldiers. By the end of the story, Ziauddin is disgusted by the foreigner and goes back to working as a coolie.
Day one Afternoon : The Bunder follows the life of a textile factory employee who is immersed in a world of corruption and bribes. He feels guilty about his workers losing their eyesight and the realization haunts him until the end of his story. In Day Two: Lighthouse Hill, a poor man nicknamed Xerox sells illegally copied books to students who walk down Lighthouse Hill. He is constantly being arrested but he is never
deterred, even when he is beaten for selling one India’s banned books.
A young boy named Shankara in Day Two Afternoon: St. Alfonso’s Boy’s High School and Junior College, sets off a bomb in order ti rewrite five thousand years of wrongs. H wrestles with his status as an outsider in both of the castes he belongs to, hating both of them for the things they do to each other. Day Two(Evening): Lighthouse Hill(The Foot of the Hill) details the life of a teacher who, despite all of his efforts, has discovered that there is no innocence left in school boys and that corruption is at the heart of Kittur.
Keshava is a vibrant boy in Day Two(Evening):Markey and Maidan who becomes enamoured with the world of the buses. He becomes a small celebrity in Kittur and subtly changes the world around him while losing himself. Day Three: Angel Takies is a riveting story of a journalist who discovers the truth that lies in the dark alley of Kittru and seeks to rewrite it for all to see.
Day Four: Umbrella Street follows a man named Chenayya who knows he is slowly working himself to death. He desperately tries to crawl out of the walls of poverty, only to realize that h and the poor like him, have made that feat impossible. Soumya, the young girl in Day Four(Afternoon): The Cool Water Well Junction, is sent on a mission by her father to procure drugs. Her journey takes her across the treacherous street of Kittur and illustrates the lengths a person will go to for the love of their family.
Day Five: Valencia(To The First Crossroad)is the tale about a old Brahmin woman obsessed with the caste structure, religion and her nephew. She is tired of working for households with spoiled children but her obsession with caste does not allow her to move within the society. A poor man secures a steady job for a rich lady in Day Five(Evening):The Cathedral of Our Lady of Valencia. He and his sister become permanent fixtures in her household until the day he makes a mistake that is unforgivable and irreversible.
Day Six: The Sultan’s Battery follow the life of Ratna, a man who sells counterfeit pills to men who have venereal diseases. In a dark twist, the boy he pick for his daughter to marry is infected with the same type of disease, and even though Ratna calls the marriage off, he feels a duty to help the unfortunate boy. Day Six(Evening): Bajpei is the story of a couple who still practice the traditional art of Brahmin courtesy. However, their dinner parties have a taboo subject, which causes much speculation about how their relationship works.
The last story in Adiga ‘s collection, Day Seven:Saalt Market Village, tells the story of an older communist man who becomes obsessed with a younger woman. The idealism of his youth and the communist party drive him to help the woman and her mother. However, when they rebuke him, readers are able to see the man turn to the corruption and old traditions of India to help him get what he wants.
Adiga has highlighted how religious fanaticism is exploited by some evil people in our country through the character of Ziauddin. Ziauddin, a twelve year old, sixth of the eleven children of a poor family, works in a tea stall. Working at a tender age, he develops a sense of isolation from the society. Left to find for himself, he has to struggle are not part of the main stream society. The marginalization of the Muslims extends to employment opportunities as well. The shopkeeper near the railway station never hires a Muslim worker but Ramanna Shetty employs Ziauddin due to his innocence.
After a stay for four months with his parents, the boy returns completely transformed, losing his innocence. He develops a sense of pride in his religion and yearns to know his ancestral roots. Soon, however, the honest buy metamorphosis into a thief stealing small things. This leads to his removal from one work after another. While
fighting, he always affirms his identity as a pathan, slapping his chest. The religious pride and a sense of separation spread poison in the mind of the young buy. A feeling of
insecurity and mistrust makes him hate the Hindus with whom he had spent many happy moments of life. It is dear that he been brain washed by some religious extremists and that makes the young boy to hate the other.
Ziauddin’s quest for identity increases when he comes in contact with a north Indian Muslim Pathan, with whom he develops a sense of belonging. The stranger’s expensive clothes, handsome face and his perfume make him take a pride in his acquaintance. The stranger tempts ziauddin to count the number of trains with Indian soldiers, which leads to some terrorist activity. Appealing to his Muslim Pathan identity, the stranger tries to get the work done.
However, Ziauddin realizes that he is being used by the self- centred terrorist and escapes from his clutches and leads a normal life as a coolie at the railway station. The novelist has through Ziauddin’s story tried to probe into the causes behind terrorism and how innocent people are used as pawns by the real perpetrators of terrorism. In this bureaucratic world, truth is the first casualty as is discovered by the upright journalist Gururaj Kamath.
Adiga has beautifully brought out how truth has been suppressed in today’s world through the character of Gururaj, a journalist who is on a mission to discover the truth. Adiga has shown how several layers of pretention are peeled away from his eyes before he recognizes the fact that newspapers are a means of doing business and nothing more than that.
Adiga shows how media is manipulative and what the readers perceive to be truth is nothing but a capitalist oriented truth. In one of the news, an employee of a big tycoon, Mr. Engineer, is involved in an accident but the truth is manipulated with the power of money. Gururaj gets the news from the Gurkha, a local watchman, that Mr.Engineer himself hit a man on his way back home. However the police reports were change in favour of Mr.Engineer.
The tycoon gets one of the employees in his factory to say that he was driving the car when it happened. The employee gives the police a sworn affidavit. Adiga has pointed out that how the tycoon with the power of money and influence is able to manipulate both the police and the judicial system. It is important to note that Mr.Engineer gives the police four or five thousand and gets the car changed as it was a new Maruti Suzuki car then giving the police another thousand to change the identity of the killer car to a Fiat.
Mr. Engineer has his car and drives around the town again. The police are aware of the truth and reinvestigate the matter but his editor tries to bury the matter. Gururaj bursts with anger and looks at the editor-in-chief with new eyes. The fact of the matter is that the newspaper is owned by a businessman who serves only for capitalist.
In the novel, Adiga has focused on how venereal disease like taboo in our society. Although many people suffer from it, they do not got to the hospital for fear of censure in society and resort to treatment from quacks and suffer in the process. A case in point is Ratnakar Shetty, a father of three daughters, who toils day and night to save money for their dowry in this materialistic world. He has adopted the profession of a fake sexologist to fulfil the needs of his family.
While coming home in the bus, he sells books and pens among other things. Although, he has saved dowry for his first daughter but he worried for the next two daughters. While the father has fixed the match of his eldest daughter, he discovers to his horror that the groom suffers from a sexually transmitted disease, which he picked up from a prostitute. Strangely enough the same boy approaches Shetty for a cure. Though Shetty advises him to go for a doctor’s consultation, the boy refuses. But the boy had the fear of social discrimination.
Ratnakar bring him to the real sexologist who diagnoses that the boy is suffering from kidney failure. In India class differences die hard. Although
discrimination on the basis of caste is banished by the constitution but in reality it is a part and parcel of everyday Indian life. Even if a poor man works hard and wants to rise up in life it does not mean that he will be accepted by the upper class society as an equal.
George, the mosquito man who spreads the pesticides tries to establish a relationship with a rich lady, Mrs. Gomes but fails in the end. As a poor man George realizes “…the biggest difference is, between being rich and being like us? The rich can make mistakes again and again. We make only one mistake and that’s it for us”. (Adiga 231) George slowly wins her confidence and becomes her part-time gardener as well as driver. He also manages to bring his sister, Maria, as a cook. It is his mistaken perception that Mrs. Gomes is different from other rich people. However she feels that he is slowly trying to take over her household.
George feels happy to see that Mrs. Gomes has become more than just a mistress to his sister Maria, but a good friend. He hopes Maria can get married soon as she has a status as a cook in a rich woman’s house. Due to bitterness, poverty and shame he had put off the thought of his marriage so long. His delusion is soon shattered. He is instructed by her to spread the pesticides in the gutter in the same manner in the past but now he is aggrieved to know that she still treats him like a servant.
Previously, George would move mountains for her but now he has extraordinary hopes her to be treated with nobility and dignity. Knowing that her reputation is at stake, Mrs. Gomes removes him and his sister from work. In India, the caste in which one is born leaves a permanent imprint on the person. These ideas are deeply embedded in our psyche and are resistant to change. Adiga has captured this through the case of Shankara, a child born from the union of a Brahmin father and a low caste Hoyka woman.
Shankara is not secure about his identity and tries to take revenge against the caste biased society by exploding a bomb in his school. “I have burst a bomb to end the
5,000-year-old caste system that still operates in our country. I have burst a bomb to show that no man should be judged, as I have been, merely by the accident of his birth”(Adiga 51). He is under the false impression that his teachers at the school must be mocking him behind his back. Exploding a crude bomb in his school is his way of hitting back at the caste discrimination he faces. After the bomb explosion he dreams that he would be treated in a different way in jail, as a martyr of same kind.
The Hoyka self-advancement committee would take out marches for him and the police would not dare to touch him. Perhaps, when he was released, great crowds would wave for him. He would be launched on a political career. Shankara is always treated as someone special among his Hoyka relatives as he is a half-Brahmin and hence much higher than them in the caste scale.
Shankara’s father, a Brahmin plastic surgeon in the Gulf had married his Hoyka mother to the dismay of Brahmins. Shankara, as a result gets a very problematic identity in the society, neither a Brahmin nor a Hoyka. He would always remain a bastard. He feels that he has the worst of both the castes in his blood such as the anxiety and fear of Brahmin and the propensity to act without thinking of the Hoyka.
Social disconnect and his makes the boy more violent. The Brahmin relatives see him as the product of a daring adventure on the part of his father and consider him as a mixture of started feeling that his father belongs to no caste or race such people lived for themselves. His mother feels herself inferior in the company of the Brahmin relatives. Shankara thinks that it is his mother’s own fault if she feels distressed in the Brahmin relative’s presence, he advises his mother repeatedly to ignore the Brahmin relatives. Adiga remarked it as:
Even as he cursed her, he understood her fear. She not want to face the Brahmin woman alone. Her sole claims to acceptance, to respectability, was the production of a male child, an heir- and if
he wasn’t the house, then she had nothing to show. She was just a Hoyka trespassing into a Brahmin’s household. (Adiga 52)
Adiga through the dilemma of Shankara raises a question whether caste or the class is worst in the society. Shankara though rich is not given recognition by the upper caste. Although he is the son of a Brahmin, he is never considered as a Brahmin. However his driver who belongs to upper caste is poor, the old Brahmin who shows
sympathy to him cannot afford a car for travelling though Shankara has ample wealth. He contemplates,
The man patted him on the shoulder. The unselfconscious way in which he touched Shankara suggested that he was not a biagot, not caste-obsessed, but just someone speaking the sad truth of life.’You too belong to a caste,’ said the old fellow. ‘The Brahmo-Hoykas, in between the two. They are mentioned in the scriptures and we know that they exist somewhere. They are a people separate entirely from other humans. You should talk to them, and marry one of them. That way everything will be normal again.’ (Adiga 58-59)
Corruption is a major evil affecting India today. It is a rampant and ever growing malaise that affects our society. The point is highlighted by the character of Abbasi, a God fearing Muslim businessman. He shuts down his factory as he is aware that the fine needle work done by the women workers in his factory leads them to blindness.
Most of his friends who also own similar factories do not have enough social conscience like Abbasi to shut their factories. To reopen the factory, Abbasi had to overcome several hurdles. He had to face many visits by corrupt officials from various
government agencies that had ostensibly come for inspection but had in reality com for taking bribes. Adiga says as:
The official twirled his glass around and gazed at the Air India logo with one eye, as if some small part of him were embarrassed by what he was doing. He gestured at his mouth with his fingers: ‘A man has to eat these days, Mr.Abbasi. Prices are rising so fast. Ever since Mrs Gandhi died, this country has begun to fall apart.'(Adiga 22)
Since he decided to reopen his shirt factory, he had to pay off the electricity man, water board man, income tax official, sanitary inspector, health inspector, union leaders and political leaders among others. This is against his principals, however for his survival he has to offer bribe.
Abbasi opened a window in his office. He could see only buildings, a congested road, and old walls. He opened all the windows, but still he saw nothing but walls. He claimed up to the roof of his building and ducked under a clothline to walk out onto the terrace. Coming to the edge, he placed a foot on the tiled roof that protruded over the front of his shop. (Adiga 35)
In one of the stories, Adiga has highlighted how the wretch labour class of the town has lost all sense of self-respect and many of them compel their children to go for begging. Ramachandran, who smashes rich people’s houses in the Rose Lance of Kittur, is a smack addict. He beats his wife and forces his children Soumya and Raju to go for begging from the tourist coming to the town. He has been arrested and beaten many times but nobody can make him leave this addition. It is really pathetic that his young daughter begs and then brings cigarettes laced with smack for this demonic father who often beats her.
The pathetic and sad condition of brother and sister are portrayed clearly. It shows that morality is at its lowest ebb here and even children are being exploited for selfish and mean motives. The fact that he indulges in and is addicted to smack and for this exploits the innocence of his young children is brought out in a poignant fashion by Adiga.
Throughout the flow of this novel Adiga has focussed our attention towards the various social maladies that plague our country. It is a social criticism focusing on the poverty and misery of India and its socio-political and religious conflicts. Gross violation of people’s liberty and equality, poor- rich divide, corruption, religious fanaticism, child labour and utter suffering are the various motifs interweaved within the main stream of the novel.
Though exiled by centuries of India’s rigid caste system and thrust into the dismal outskirts of society, Adiga’s characters who are victim of this system somehow feel an immense connectedness to realities, a passion for the subtleties in the world around them and they long for a dignity which they may never know. While they are doomed to the cyclical nature of the lingering caste system and is discarded and scrutinized by those who are above him, it becomes apparent that Xerox can see the world feel his surroundings in a way on no one else can see.
Through unrivalled empathy, Xerox is able to rise above the rich in the one way he know how. Ramkrishna, a Dalit bookseller know as Xerox who has been arrested twenty- one times in a nine year span for selling pirated copies of books at discounted rates. He sells the books not only for survival but also for the prestige of the vocation that is why he once told inspector Ramesh as,
The books are photocopied, or sometimes printed, at an old printing press in Salt Market Village. Xerox loves being around the machinery. He strokes the photocopier; he adores the machine,
the way it flashes like lightning as it works, the way it whirrs and hums. He cannot read English, but he knows that English words have power, and that English books have aura. He looks at the image of Adlof Hitler on the cover of Mein Kampf and feels his power. He looks at the face of Kalil Gibran , poetic and mysterious, and he feels the mystery and poetry. He looks at the face of Lee Iacocca, relaxed with his hands behind his head, and he feels relaxed. That’s why he once told to Inspector Ramesh: ‘I have no wish to make any trouble for you or for the publisher, sir; I just love books: I love making them, holding them, and selling them. My father took out shit for a living, sir: he couldn’t even read or write. He’d be so proud if he could see that I make my living from books.'(Adiga 39)
After unknowingly selling copies of a book banned in the Republic of India, The Satanic Verses, Xerox finds himself confined in a torturous prison. The policeman are entertained by Xerox telling smutty tales of some college girl whom he saw wearing jeans in American style. Xerox, being a low caste, narrates the story of what his father did all his life for a living and taking the crap out of the houses of rich landlords which was traditional occupation of people of his caste.
Xerox’s old father would have hang all day long around the black wall of the landlord’s house, and wait with bent knees like a wicket keeper waits for the ball in cricket. Then hearing the sound of the boom-box closing, he has to run to the well, pull out the retractable potty through a hole in the wall, empty it into the rose plants, wipe it clean with his loincloth and insert it back into the wall before the next person will use the toilet. While he sleeps, the police station upper caste inspector, Ramesh and lawyer, D’ Souza, gulp bottles of old monk grudgingly observing Xerox’s sleeping frame and
Ramesh pulled down the snoring man’s trousers; he lifted the bar high up, while the lawyer said: ‘Do it like Hanuman does, on TV!’ Xerox woke up screaming. Ramesh handed the bar to D’ Souza. The policeman and the lawyer took turns: he smashed the bar against Xerox’s legs, just at the knee-joint, like the monkey god did on TV, and then he smashed it into Xerox’s legs, just above the knee-joint, and then he smashed it into Xerox’s legs, just
above the knee-joint, like the monkey god did on TV, and then laughing and kissing each other, the two staged out, shouting for someone to lock the station up behind them. (Adiga 41-42)
Within few seconds both the upper caste men take pleasure in breaking Xerox’s legs. The policeman and the lawyer took turns and they smashed the bar against Xerox’s legs just at the knee joint. Once out of the hospital and upon his release Xerox openly defies the police and plans to sell only one book banned throughout the Republic of India, he confronts the policeman grinning. For the policeman and the lawyer who torture Xerox is not just a petty thief but a symbol of the oppressed that have began to assert them and challenge the powerful. Dr.Rositha Joseph Valiyamattam states as:
While the obsolete system of reservations and the Inspector may well be a prelude to the Mandal agitation of the 1990’s Xerox’s open rebellion shows that the Dalit Too will no longer take insults lying down. His act of defiance challenges the Indian State which has failed to establish true equality. Adiga underlines the fact that unless social attitudes change, no amount of quotas will lend dignity to the downtrodden. (Valiyamattam 226-229)
Adiga portrayed Shankara’s character as how social isolation and sense of humiliation in caste based society makes the boy more violent. He even hates his driver who belongs to an upper caste. The Brahmin relatives see him as the product of a daring adventure on the part of his father and consider him as caste violation. Adiga seems to suggest that the caste discrimination has created some group like Naxalities or other which is the treat itself as Shankara poses a question about to clear cost system to the professor. Professor replied that the Naxalites have entirely blown out the upper castes.
In another story Valencia: to the First Crossroad the Hindu caste system is presented in another interesting angle. There is a character Jayamma, who works as a cook, although belonging to Brahmin caste, she has to suffer from the eleven children and her father being a floor cannot afford the expenses of his eight daughters. Her father is able to save the gold only for six daughters to be married off. The last three has to stay barren virgin for life.
Jayamma Hindu Brahmin woman is made to work from her early years as a maid servant in one family after another, some of them as also their other servants being Hoykas upon whom she looks down and grumbles at her fate. Working at the advocate’s house, she hates another servant girl Shaila for belonging to lower caste. She refuses to share a room with Shaila in the servant’s quarters even though she prefers to stay in the room of seven feet by seven feet with a little space in between the shrine and the rice bags, just enough to curl up and go to sleep at night.
Adiga exposes another vital issue like communal disharmony which causes hatred among different communities. Since from post-independence of India, it has been seen that whenever there causes untoward, minorities always suffered and subjugated. There is galaxy of characters represent each section of our society. Among them, Ziauddin, a Muslim boy, twelve years old sixth of eleventh children of a farm labouring family works in a tea shop through which Adiga highlights how the Muslims are discriminated ad are not considered the part of the mainstream of society.
The religious pride and a sense of separation spreads poison in the minds of the little fellow because of Muslims feel insecure after the tragic events of riots. Dr. Rositts Joseph Valiyamattam remarked it as:
There years witnessed the anti-Sikh and Babri-Ayodhya riot that shook the very soul of a nation. Though riots had been occurring ever since partition, 1984-1991 was the time during which religious fundamentalists, like Hindu communalists whipped up religious passions and sentiments to a new frenzy and the secular fabric of the nation seemed to be in real danger. We see a slackening of the nation’s long vigil against communal forces. In fact during the 1990s the BJP had launched a campaign to hoist the national flag at Idgah Maidan in Kittur, near Hubli. (Valiyamattam 227)
A feeling of insecurity makes him hate the Hindus with whom he had spent happy moments of life. It is clear that he has been brain washed by some religious extremists as they have developed this by impact of these tragic events which cause this sense communalism and sense of insecurity that makes the young boy hate the others. He shouts when he is beaten by Ramanna.
One may be born poor, even if a poor man works hard and wants to rise up in life it does not mean that he will be accepted by the upper class society as an equal, but he does everything to rise upwards. George, the mosquito-man spreads the pesticides tries to win the heart of a rich lady Mrs. Gomes but realizes that he will always be treated as a poor. His friend Vijay with a sign that is half-rebellion and half acceptance that he insists the world was owned by rich.
The aspirations of poor people are not only to get money but to struggle for
respect and social status even though they have lower job as once George is annoyed by rich woman’s tone who he thinks his princes. It is clear when he conversed with his friends at construction site when he shows his psyche or feeling against riches and says,
‘The rich abuse us, man. It’s always, here, take twenty rupees, kiss my feet. Get into the gutter. Clean my shit. It’s always like that.’
‘There he goes again,’ Guru chuckled. ‘It was this talk that got him fired in the first place, but he hasn’t changed at all. Still so bitter.'(Adiga 237)
George wins her confidence and became the driver as well as gardener. He perceives that Mrs. Gomes is different from other rich people. He manages to bring his sister, Maria, in Mrs. Gomes house as a cook. But Mrs. Gomes senses that George is slowly trying to take over her households. The cook who is dismissed from her job to make way for George’s sister Maria had cursed them. George dreamt Maria had got
married soon as she has a status as a cook in a rich woman’s house. Due to bitterness, poverty and shame he had put off the thought of his marriage. Adiga expresses George’s regrets as:
After that, he figured, it would be time for his own marriage, which he had put off so long, out of a combination of bitterness, poverty, and shame. Yes, time for marriage, and children. Yet regret still gnawed at him, created by his contact with this rich woman, that he could have done so much more with his life. (Adiga 248)
George develops the thought to be treated to be treated with nobility and dignity by her. But his delusion soon shattered when he is asked by her to spread
pesticides in the gutter in the same manner as in the past. He is offended to know that she still treat him like a servant.
In the novel Between the Assassinations Adiga has finely narrated the stories of lower caste as well as poor people in a clear way of narration with a local flavour which gives a universal appeal to the realistic treatment of the characters. It is rightly said by Nikam ;Nikam in their view on Adiga’s thought through Journal of Literature, Culture and Media Studies as “Adiga invites reader’s attention towards the disparities between the poor and rich, communal, disharmony, corruption, violence and hypocrisy”(2012:145).
Adiga raises the voice of subaltern who are eager to change their fate and destiny. He deeply present the pathetic condition of underdogs as well as what compels them to commit crimes, to rob people, to kill people and to force the people to choose a wrong path. The novel is a muffled voice of protest and has vocalized them creatively, so that people of the entire world may know that. By projecting myriad pictures of society and people of India, Adiga displays his full range of imagination, impressive and genuine concern for those who are victims of caste, class, communal disharmony and poverty.
Adiga’s real strength stories are his deftness in turning tiny details into something hugely revelatory of milieu, company and states of mind. This novel further proves his talents for observation and pinpointing the complexity of modern India. With richly detailed descriptions of life in Kittur, from the cart puller to the journalist to the scion of the town’s richest man, Adiga achieves in a dozen pages what many novels fail to do in hundreds.
Adiga’s treatment of the individual and the collective reveals a writer who has made great strides in synthesizing many disparate issues into a single discourse. In understanding these connections and the resulting violence, Adiga points to the tensions,
which are a vestige of imperially influenced nationalism that communalism now perpetuates and exacerbates.
Despite the priority accorded to individuals in British notions of identity and governance, group identities and imagined communities tend to have more power than the individual in contemporary India. In moving from an American understanding of the individual and a British understanding of justice to Indian notions of both identity and justice, Adiga has made a value statement a notion of identity he prefers and which he prescribes for India’s welfare.
Understanding this dynamic is key to the future of India’s markets, political battles, and national identity. While this future apparently holds great potential in his eyes, Adiga will continue to probe those elements that have emerged to challenge India’s effort to move beyond colonialism; for him, India remains a healing wound with group identities, exclusion, and an ever changing set of possible national identities.
It is important to note that those that are part of the lower strata of the society can only benefit from the gifts of these brilliant transformations in India if they are economically uplifted, and are part of that hegemony of the elite and the powerful. It is not because Adiga is proposing violence as an answer to corruption and injustice but it is the only solution remaining when the system fails to address the subaltern and under privileged.
Adiga uses setting as an influential factor in his stories. Adiga merges the natural world, the past, and the present within the vocabulary of construction materials and buildings as markers of colonial authorities. Developing a collective identity requires leaving the colonial past and creating a future by shifting away from British notions of identity which were grounded in the value of the individual as opposed to the value of identifying with the community.
Aravind Adiga’s advice to the nation regarding preservation of the youth is highly admirable. He articulates through his narration, penetrating and discerning analyses of what troubles Indian politics, society and the economy and advises what needs to be done and set it right. The characters of Adiga are real, his characters and situations are also real than supernatural. His common features of contemporary men and women and their challenges in their own places. This is also to highlight the current features of Indian novels in English.
The white tiger is a novel quickly expended covering almost every aspect of social life. The novel sets up a background of a darkly comical viewpoint of the modern day life in India. The main theme of the novel is the contrast between India’s rise as modern global economy and its middle class working citizens who live in extreme conditions. Other themes discussed are including the corruption issue inherent to India society and politics, transformation in the education system, changes in equality and poverty.
In the age gone by, the social issues used to be dowry, unemployment, child labour, discrimination and poverty are restored by the modern affairs like torture in women, terrorism, gambling, crime and corruption. Further, poverty and illiteracy is the main evils that still exist. Adiga highlighted mainly these current social taboos in his novels. In modern epoch one comes across modern affair like quest for identity, lonliness, alienation, sense of non belonging and existential crisis which are reflected on the pretext of his various novels.
Adiga’s views on India being infested with servitude and swath, where a man who is born in a poor family finds his opportunities of progress being limited and the conditions prevailing in the country are such that propel him to justify a crime like murder and thefts as legal, has been portrayed. Adiga raises various issues in this work
and it is a fact beyond contradiction that India confronts by most of the issues put forward by him. He has an enormous contribution and concerns in the society.
The writing of Adiga revolves around the social life of a simple and common man. The pathetic condition of underdog is deeply presented by Adiga and what compels a common man to commit murder, to rob people and to force the people to go on off beam path. He explores the authenticity of life of common people Adiga draws attention to a series of wide known injustices like communal disharmony, corruption, violence, poverty and hypocrisy and their impact of human relationships.
The White Tiger and Between the Assassinations both written by Adiga are about two different perspectives of India before and after globalization. The stories of Between the Assassination are set in a specific time frame in pre-liberalized, socialist India, between the assassinations of Mrs. Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi. The series of such events took place around mid of eighties and beginning of nineties when the India was undergoing major changes.
The perceptions of Adiga’s novels are to make people realize their misconception associated to the social stigmas rather than solutions. Community issues will become a herculean task. Awareness is the important remedy for such societal message to the people of India pertaining to modern Indian society and how the poor people survive in crushing poverty. His great works represent to us the lives of India’s poor in a practical and sympathetic manner.
Adiga seems to suggest that for our country to move on the path of progress we have to tackle these burning issues. According to Chandrahas, ” Adiga’s main theme, one at which he hacks away relentlessly, is power relations between rich and poor, master and servant, high-caste and low-caste, majority and minority, even haughty English and the low vernacular- and, as a consequence of these relations, moral perversion and subaltern rage” (http://middlestage.Blogspot.in/2008/17/on_aravind_adiga_between.html).
The White Tiger is a commentary on the contemporary and almost universal theme of poverty and frustration of modern man. Marginalized people are usually discriminated, ignored and often suppressed on the basis of race, caste, gender, culture, religion, ethnicity, occupation, education and economy by the mainstream. It is a story of flashing wit, blistering suspense and questionable morality told by the most volatile, captivating and utterly imitable narrator.
In Between the Assassination, like a tourist guide, the author invites his readers to spend at least a week to observe life in Kittur in its multifarious shades. Each of the stories begins with a short tourist description of some section of the town, replete with anthropological, together with the map featured on the inside front cover, seems to give a neat and ordered picture of the place, contrary to what we read soon after in the stories as we come up against the clutter and chaos of small town life.
The Indian readers responded compassionately to his outspoken, innocent frankness with regard to social problems of our Indian society. Since the publication of The White Tiger, Adiga has been considered as an important voice of his generation, exemplified by a break from the past by writing in a distinctly Indian person rather than adopting the techniques of the English modernists. His provocative novels are known for their unfit honest urban life and roles of downtrodden people in traditional Indian society, issues of postcolonial identity and the political and personal struggles of marginalized people.
Through Balram’s eyes, we see India as we have never seen it before. The cockroaches and the call centres, the prostitutes and the worshippers and the water buffalo trapped in so many kinds of cages that escape is impossible. The novel with a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, he teaches us that religion does not create morality and money doesn’t solve every problem.
The White Tiger is a novel of memoir of Balram’s journey to find his freedom in modern day capitalist society. The work shows a modern day, with free market and free business. It also shows how it can create economic division. In India there are not social classes, but social caste. When Balram was asked which caste he was from, he knew that it could ultimately cause a biased stance in his employer and determine the future of his employment. There is definitely a big difference seen in Balram’s lower caste from back home and his current higher caste in their lifestyles, habits and standards of living.
This novel reflects how our economic system today creates socioeconomic gaps that create a big division in society. It limits opportunity, social mobility, health and other right that should be given to all. As Soumya Bhattacharya remarks in her work The Independent,
Aravind Adiga’s riveting, razor-sharp debut novel explores with wit and insight the realities of these two Indians, and revels what happens when the inhabitants of one collude and then collide with those of the other. The pace, superbly controlled in the opening and middle sections, begins to flag a bit towards the end. But this is a manor quibble: Adiga has been gutsy in tackling a complex and urgent subject. His is a novel that has come not a moment too soon. (11 April 2008)
The author frequently mentions the rooster coop when describing the situation or characteristics of the servant class in India. The author compares those chickens living in a miserable condition with the poor class in India. Balram, begin a white tiger escapes from the structure if the in equality in the country, the author comes to believe that liability for the suffering of the servant also lies with the mentality of the servant class.
The novel is an intelligent and ruthless portrait of India in which downtrodden people like Balram suffers under the rich. Here the author shows the true picture of Indian society. He also educates the masses about the criminals who are born due to inequality, corruption and injustice in the society. But the Indian people should not overlook the bloody acts, opportunism, and entrepreneurial success of people like Balram and emergence of socialists in India. It is the duty of each and every citizen that they should try their level best not to indulge in corruption activities which may give birth to so many Balrams which is dangerous to the society.
Balram is that representative voice of this underprivileged class who is struggling to set free from age old slavery and exploitation. His anger, protest, indulgence in criminal acts, drinking, chasing and grabbing the opportunities reflect his frustration in life and revolt against the prevailed social system ruled by handful elite and rich class. The social maladies forces operate to victimize this silent majority of underclass. This novel provides a true picture of gross malpractices in Indian democracy and society. A close nexus between politicians, criminals, police and media is harmful to India democracy and its economy.
Adiga took the challenge against the economic, social and cultural exploitation, lacking of moral and values in politics and spiritual suppression of poor in India. Through this novel, he highlights the ever widening space among the rich and the poor, the rural and the urban and the brutality of system that allows a small minority to prosper at the expense of the silent under privileged class majority. Balram is an example of awareness in underprivileged class and will no longer tolerate any kind of social suppression.
Adiga’s The White Tiger and Between the Assassinations came out when old set up of society was losing ground. Rise of materialism, advancement of technology, modernization, social mobility, sense of cut throat competition, disloyalty, change in the
norms of social institutions, consumerism are some of the characteristics which constitutes the mode of a new generation, causing social maladies in the life of the man in new era. These factors are solely responsible for social, cultural and economic changes. Balram Halwai, Ashok and his wife in The White Tiger and Ziauddin, Shankara, Mrs. Gomes, Abbasi and George in Between the Assassinations are the best representatives of this trend.
When those characters are studied in the light of the twenty- first century and as the product of new generation, they seem to be the significant part of this contemporary changing world. The findings of this research paper will show how the new generation suffer in social maladies. Due to this situations India is passing through a crucial mode never before seen or heard, everything is in a state of chaos. They do not wish to follow the trodden path neither do they know how to make their own path.
Adiga’s leading characters like Balram and Ashok in The White Tiger and Shankara, Ziauddin and Abbasi in Between the Assassinations, don’t believe in the human values but are totally mercenary minded. They are always lying in wait to grind their own axes. Public and private offices are projected as the place where common man is exploited physically, mentally, economically and psychologically. Corruption is a cancer which originates, exists and flourishes without check in every nook and corner of our society.
Adiga by representing the city anthropomorphically has presented a hybrid structure of the cities where anthropomorphism is used as a metaphor or literary device, and helps in the creation of a collage between the city and the human world. It further establishes the existence of a dualism prevalent between man’s own needs and the society’s norms. This research draws upon theories from sociologists as it aims to highlight the dichotomy between man’s personal needs and his social belonging.
The individuals within Adiga’s works experience crises involving
identity, physical needs, economic hardship, and the direction of their personal futures, while sharing a common heritage. Further, his characters typically range from impoverished to middle-class backgrounds and span in age from youthful to elderly characters. Adiga often infuses his own multiple-nationality background into his
characters, exploring the impact of class and racial differences while simultaneously examining larger questions regarding the direction of Indian identity and the experience of Indian residents.
Adiga’s most recent novel continues his study of the place of the individual within India. In it, he shows that the individual suffers the consequences of colonialism while he also interrogates the establishment of sets of national identities. Adiga examines both the emergence of the state and the place of violence in relation to India within his texts. As India, with its contemporary borders, is a recent phenomenon, the establishment of a state identified with a civilization after years of British rule created an environment that has produced lingering consequences of colonialism, moments of violence, and identity crises.
Therefore, continued study of Adiga’s narratives could offer increased understanding of the shifting political boundaries and the experiences of India’s
population. In The White Tiger, Adiga portrays the isolation of individuals as way to focus on the divide between communities. One of the aims which Adiga has achieved is to present the setting of the novel as one of the characters, and not just limit it as a backdrop.
The setting certainly gains much importance and significance if it is shown as an alive organism, watching like an animate being and having a conscience. The city structure is not just presented as a place of dwelling but here it is depicted as evolutionary and ever changing as it is shown as having the power and desire to mould and shape people’s lives.
The social facts which define the rules within its premises are law governing
and enforcing agencies which are responsible for curbing subjectivism and egoism in return giving rise to altruism and social solidarity. However, both these altruistic and egoistical techniques work together and compromise for the promotion of globalization, liberalism and empowerment in the cities of Mumbai and New Delhi which remold these urban spaces to present the paradoxical and ever-changing image of the rising new India.
Our democratic government does not pay much attention to the welfare of the masses. But the increased rate of literacy has changed the outlook of the masses. So the men of this century don’t want to be the followers of their forefathers who used to play into the hands of the rich, but their offspring strongly resist this ancient cultural trait.
This trend of contemporary society indicates that they are no longer in the mood to bear the burden of traditionalism. They have come to know that they can play major roles in the formation of this new world. So they don’t want to be exploited at all, but are desirous of breaking out of these old shackles which have been put o them since ages.
Rise of materialism and extension of urbanization are responsible for this mode of society. Now the working class, which makes up the major part of the population, has awakened from its lethargy. This awakening of the masses projects the mood of the changing society and indicates revolt against the rich. Balram and Shankara as well as Ziauddin and others are the best examples of this trend.
Balram and Shankara don’t pay much attention to social and moral values as their forefathers used to do. This trend of contemporary society will lead to the transformation of our traditional society and on to the path of anarchical growth. There aforesaid trend are followed everywhere in the era of the twenty-first century. Thus these trends constitute the mood of the contemporary world and suggest to us that something serious and decisive is lurking in the offing.
When Adiga is studied specially as a novelist of the twenty first century, his novels appear to be more appealing and charming for contemporary youth. The youth of the present century more or less have declared a revolt against the social and moral values of traditionally set up society. At present, some old customs, social and moral values are losing their ground very quickly, while the new ones are not coming into being as rapidly. The general decline of faith in traditional values and a new melancholy constitute the mood of twenty first century. This strange development causes confusion and projects the lopsided picture of contemporary world.
In The White Tiger, Halwai’s individuality is synonymous with western notions of selfish interests and the value of the individual citize. The corruption and atrocities that keep, hinder, twist, or restrain the Indian subaltern reflect a combination of prejudices that are left over from both colonialism and from the persistence of caste-based differences.
Throughout this most recent novel, Adiga challenges the assumption that individualism holds any promise of benefit either to the individual and the community. Adiga’s characters profitably utilize many of these actions, showing that they are not used solely to modernize, but rather to create a unified identity, collective, and nation. Adiga’s treatment of the individual and the collective reveals a writer who has made great strides in synthesizing many disparate issues into a single discourse.
The final impression of the novel is that it justifies every kind of trick to succeed in life. Balram’s act empowers the marginalized by retrieving their voices, spaces and identities suppressed by colonial surrogates in the postcolonial environment. His act is a rebellion against prevalent dominant ideology, cultural supremacy. Thus, the picture Aravind Adiga paints of India in The White Tiger is of a nearly feudal society disguised as a democracy.
The country might have gained its independence from the British at the end of the 1940s, but the majority of the people in India are still trapped in servitude.
The White Tiger is a depiction of the social and economic inequalities of contemporary India. It is a penetrating piece of social commentary, attuned to the dissimilarities that persist despite India’s new prosperity.
The White Tiger is not mere production of things or events, but an expression of social, cultural, economic and political patterns of Indian society and class. It is seen that the poor and proletarians are the part and parcel of society. But in wish to break the rooster coop, they commit crimes. This novel is an example of social realism. The novelist is optimistic that many readers will listen his voice and join his hands to take care the underdogs of the society.
May his vision for the poor, underdogs and underclass come true so he would be satisfied to see a new social order free from all coops, discrimination, exploitation and inequalities. Prostitution is another dark area of India of Light. In the big cities, due to poverty, most of the women are forced to adopt this profession. In Dhanbad, Delhi and Bangalore, there are red light areas one can negotiate a price with these women. Every type of woman is available.
Even foreigners who are in this flesh trade in many cities in India. Balram observes the culture of Delhi, the roads of which many painted women with whom men, in the midst of the traffic, seem to negotiate a price with them Adiga has exposed Indian Democracy and its loopholes. There are hindrances like regionalism, casteism, illiteracy, poverty, laziness and communalism in the way of democracy.
After independence, India has embraced the parliamentary form of government. She has the credit of being largest democracy in the world in spite of some defects that have crept into it. Aravind Adiga marks the drawbacks of democracy. He reveals the dark side of democracy. He exposes the corrupt political system of Indian political system. It may be the reason of India’s backwardness.
There are many divisions in Indian society that Adiga highlights in this
novel. People are recognized on the basis of the liquor they drink. There are English liquor men and Indian liquor men. English liquor is for the rich of India, and Indian liquor is for the poor of India. The people who buy English liquor are honoured and carry an air of importance about them. Liquor sellers provide their orders sooner than the orders of Indian liquor men.
On the other hand, the buyers of Indian liquor are underprivileged. They get their turn delayed in the row. They have to wait longer than to get their liquor order from the sellers as they belong to the servant class, the poor. India is a secular state. Here religion and ritual are the part and parcel of our life. Although it is a great motivating and guiding force of human life due to lack of real truth rituals have become synonymous with religion. Balram criticizes the big burden of dowry-system prevalent in Indian society. The parents of bride suffer a lot due to arrange the big party and manage cash to satisfy the greed of the parents of the bridegroom all the time.
The families have to take loans from the money-lenders for the wedding of their daughters. So they could have a lavish wedding and lavish dowry. Moneylenders compel them to work for them leaving behind the education. Balram criticizes this big burden of dowry system in Indian society. Parents of the bride suffer because they have to satisfy the family of boy.
This is the pathetic condition of rural India Adiga exposes. People are made to sit on the newspapers. Patients are neglected by the doctors. Because of unavailability of the doctors in the hospitals, Balram’s father is not treated by them. The author portrays the dark images of India by giving these instances. The poor condition of rural India is portrayed in The White Tiger. Father of Balram dies of tuberculosis. Being the rickshaw puller, he could not go to the specialist hospital in city.
Adiga describes a diseased society where corruption siphons off money needed for schools, the environment, and public works. At the same time, the tentacles
of the Indian family exercise a stranglehold over those who seek to establish an independent life. The resentment that has built up from oppression finds an outlet in rage and rebellion. The colonized man finds his freedom in and through violence.
In Indian social distinctive classes, people are divided crudely into the high and low castes. Adiga has used diverse imagery for the distinctive social classes to present the inner nature of the rich and the poor. He basically emphasizes the wild emotions of the postmodern human beings who crave for the capital. They are ready to do whatever things to snatch it from others. There is a big gap between the rich and the poor classes of India. It is not just a socially created gap. But the religion also divided the society into high and low castes. The race for the capital between the both classes continues.
In Indian social distinctive classes, The poor class is not only expected to serve the rich people. They should also be ready to lay their lives for the sake of rich. Pinky drives the car after getting drunk and kills a street child in Delhi road. This incident shows the value of a poor’s life. People are divided crudely into the high and lowcastes. Adiga has used diverse imagery for the distinctive social classes to present the inner nature of the rich and the poor. He basically emphasizes the wild emotions of the postmodern human beings who crave for the capital. They are ready to do whatever things to snatch it from others.
In The White Tiger, there are many images of humans living like animals. The norms of loyalty and sincerity started to breakdown when the capitalist relations replace the tradition of trust and respect and loyalty. The humanity is betrayed by such materialistic notions. Poverty results in dishonesty, bribery, corruption and immoral behavior. The lack of money turns everyone bad in this novel.
Adiga gives the readers many instances in this novel how human beings react to the devoid condition of money. As far as human body is concerned, it is different of rich and different of poor people. Bodies of human beings, belonging to two
different society, are totally different and opposite to each other. The poor man is having history on his body. All the whip marks, curves around neck, scars and cuts on the body of the poor man.
This novel tells us about social realism of Indian society where poor people compel their children to work in tea shops and restaurants. The rich people do efforts to lose their weight. They exercise. But poor don’t have to do exercise to lose their weight. Rich get fat in cities, so they walk to lose weight. In cities, there is the scarcity of playgrounds, lawns and parks. But one can find buildings, shopping malls, hotels, and more buildings. There are pavements outside but that was for the poor to live on.
This novel slowly but steadily criticizes both the phenomenon, positive and negative developments in the places such as Laxmangarh and Dhanbad. The end of
imperial rule in these places means new possibilities of cultural self determination but also a kind of chaos. Adiga depicts both the downtrodden, unpleasant deprived places. He also depicts the highly developed cities like Delhi and Bangalore. As usual, the marginal are kept at the ridge or periphery of the power centre. They always suffer for their daily bread and butter.
Adiga has shown matches the exact argument which the critics present when it comes to rising globalization and economy in India. It is an empowerment which the poor sector has no idea of. Where education is the only skill that the bourgeoisie have, the rich have their money and connections, the poor have nothing. It is only after a process of long struggle and effort and after the provision of education that the poor can be a part of it. The protagonists of Adiga’s texts have a heightened passion for separating themselves from the mob for the maintenance of their individuality.
However, Adiga in both the texts have aimed at achieving different results for this desire of freedom. Adiga has employed characters which are living solitary lives who see the external environment with a little affinity. They tend to humanize their environment using anthropomorphism so that they can satisfy their needs of communication and socialization which has diminished due to rising industrialization.
The world view presented by Adiga is unique and very informative where anthropomorphic allusions are linked with everyday items and inanimate things. One of the aims which Adiga has achieved is to present the setting of the novel as one of the characters, and not just limit it as a backdrop. The setting certainly gains much importance and significance if it is shown as an alive organism, watching like an animate being and having a conscience.
The relativity of the centre and marginality is also a concern in this novel. The post-structural analysis of the novel shows how the binary oppositions created on the basis of power structure are completely relative. Master/slave, occident/orient, good/evil, day/night are just easily breakable and reversible structures in Adiga’s novel. The slave takes the position of master exploiting him and vice versa, occident comes to the orient for a mutual economic growth, good becomes obsolete in the abundance of corruption and India sets a new norm to work at night and sleep in the day with the White Tiger drivers and the call centre workers.
The city structure is not just presented as a place of dwelling but here it is depicted as evolutionary and ever changing as it is shown as having the power and desire to mould and shape people’s lives. The social facts which define the rules within its premises are law governing and enforcing agencies which are responsible for curbing subjectivism and egoism in return giving rise to altruism and social solidarity.
However, both these altruistic and egoistical techniques work together and
compromise for the promotion of globalization, liberalism and empowerment in the cities of Mumbai and New Delhi which remold these urban spaces to present the paradoxical and ever-changing image of the rising new India.
But Adiga’s novel has subverted the structure where the consciousness of the master is perceived by the slave whereas the consciousness of the slave is never presumed by the master. Ashok, despite being the son of a corrupt landlord, trusts Balram wholeheartedly, but Balram sees it as the ladder of his progression. Balram knows how the upper caste/class Indians once exploited the lower class people like his
forefathers under the colonial rule.
Despite being born in a poor family, Balram has a strong sense of perception and he uses it to listen to others capturing the best to develop his status. According to him, people are still living their lives in misery as they have less or no desire to change their status. Only seeing the rotten things would not make any change, one has to accumulate the best from the rotten ones.
Educational institutions are deemed to the temples of teaching and learning where the lessons of moral education and the rule of honesty are taught. But the novelist depicts a different picture of Indian villages where the money of the world’s largest midday meal scheme is stolen and government supplied free uniforms to the poor student are sold in the neighbouring villages. These social crimes are committed by the teachers who are deemed to be the role model in the society. The novelist, by highlighting such issues, raises the burning issues of the contemporary India.
Adiga is a keen observer who does not spare even the politician. He thinks that they are like leeches that suck the blood of a nation. They accumulate money by illegal ways and deposited it in foreign banks. They are involved in system is too weak to punish them. Money is a tool by which corruption originates and flourishes. The votes of the poor are bought by the rich during election times. Cash for vote and proxy voting are generally afoot during these days. Fake birth certificates are supplied to this illegal task beneficial to the politician.
Poverty and ambition to get power play an important role in shaping the mind of the man of the twenty first century who always hankers after money. Balram in The White Tiger and Shankara and Ziauddin in Between the Assassinations are best example for the men of the twenty first century. If the rich follow uses the illegal and unlawful methods to meet his ends, so the poor cannot log behind. The rich, in popular culture are followed by the poor. So the poor generally follow the rich in their daily lives.
Rise of the materialistic approach plays as important role in shaping the psyche of the man of the new generation. He always hankers after money. This approach makes him so corrupted and selfish that he forgets his loyalty even to his master. He remains so busy that he does not have much time to think about the members of his family. All this happens with him due to the influence of the novelist expresses his grave concern over these burning issues.
As society is changing very fast, it causes changes in the norms of social institutions also. The poor are exploited by the rich. The common man has been the follower of his masters since ages past and presently he is still following them. In this pursuance they follow the path of artificial life, but log behind on the path of real life. The novelist projects the degradation of contemporary society. The nation lags behind in every field of growth and this lopsided growth causes the pitiable plight of the poor. This lopsided picture brings out a new picture of present India where people are bereft of basic amenities.
By highlighting these social and economic problems, the novelist points towards the serious issues of present day India which put hurdles on the way of its progress. In this way by highlighting these problems, the novelists convey a message that it is high time we tackle these issues in a serious manner, or else they would take the shape of monsters. In the words of Chengappa,
There are big issues to issues to takle: put the economy back on the growth path, ensure that there is enough food, clothing, drinking water, shelter, healthcare and education facilities for the have-nots, take steps to secure the nation against external and internal threat and keep our citizens safe, be generous and kind to the weak and needy and tough and unsparing to the wicked and the crooked. (124)
But side by side, the novelists pays tribute to the great personalities who
contributed a lot for the poor, such as Alexander the great, Abraham Lincoln of America, Mao of China and others. Here Adiga indicates that the people of India are waiting for the dawn of their freedom from all of their exploitation. Here the novelist indicates worldwide revolution. The twenty first century is the century of technology. This advanced technology invites many fatal diseases such as cancer, impotency and mental aberrations.
The new generation does not want to follow the trodden path of the previous generations, but it knows how to make its own path. The novelist highlights how the psyche of this generation has undergone radical changes. Here the novelist want to convey a message to the rich that it is high time to change their outlook towards the masses, because this century is the second renaissance of the new generation without which they would be wiped out.
Adiga’s portrayal of poverty and corruption-ridden Indian society is not to mock the country’s misery, but to pinpoint the situation of how the postcolonial India is still depriving the common people from their basic rights. Adiga thinks that it is the social responsibility of every author to pinpoint the evil sides of the society for the sake of reformation. While being interviewed by the Guardian, he mentions the name of Charles Dickens, Flaubert, and Balzac who worked for the betterment of the social and economic condition of England and France in the nineteenth century.
Adiga thinks that the educated and sensible people’s indifference towards the poverty and the corruption in Indian society are turning the condition of the nation into a more deplorable state. When Stuart Jeffries, the correspondent of the Guardian, UK, asked him how he had become interested in the poor and downtrodden people in India even after having lived a life physically detached from them, Adiga replies:
I don’t think a novelist should just write about his own experiences. Yes, I am the son of a doctor, yes, I had a rigorous formal education, but for me the challenge of a novelist is to write
about people who aren’t anything like me…In somewhere like Bihar there will be no doctors in the hospital. In northern India politics is so corrupt that it makes a mockery of democracy. This is a country where the poor fear tuberculosis, which kills 1,000 Indians a day, but people like me – middle-class people with access to health services that are probably better than England’s – don’t fear it at all. (The Guardian, UK, 16 October 2008)
Culture in metropolitan cities is changing very fast. Traditionalism is losing its ground. This outlook of the new generation causes the change in the norms of our social institutions. Religion and caste system are no longer rigid as in the earlier times. With the help of this mode of society, the novelist lights how quickly the culture of the metropolitan cities is changing and this mode of this generation points towards a particular aspect of society.
A changing picture of rural and urban India is projected. It can be said that the prevalent corruption, decline of caste system, rise of materialism, advancement of technology, modernization, social mobility, law and order, legislator, cinema media, sense of cut throat competition disloyalty, change in the norms of social institutions, alienation, extent of urbanization, globalization and consumerism.
These are the same characteristics which constitute the made of social maladies in the new generation and cause the change in the man of our society. Adiga has carved a niche for himself in the mind of the readers worldwide with his uniquely Indian style of writing characterized by satirical description of his land, India social maladies, fluidity of language and melancholy vibes. Adiga as a writer is definitely adored by critics.
Adiga tries to explore the different types of power structures that operate in the society and shows how it influences human life. He focuses the interrelated expressions of power such as political power, economic power, physical force,
religious power and ideological power which keep people in unjust and unequal positions. The main purpose of the study is to explore and analyse the power relations in Aravind Adiga’s novels.
Adigas’ works describe truth as historical because it is relative to discourse and is the product of power. Truth is relative to social and learned discourses because truth is produced by power relations. If each society has its own regime of truth, then truths must somehow be produced in a way that makes them specific to their respective regimes. Power does not produce truth in any systematic way; power produces truth blindly and nonsubjectively. The idea of a single meaning is a philosophical myth; there is no meaning but only countless meanings.
In the novel, Between the Assassinations,Gurkha narrates about an accident to Gururaj, “he hit the fellow like some stray dog, and drove away, leaving him there. He is the richest man in this town. He owns the tallest building in this town. He cannot be arrested” (123). The powerful cannot be punished, the government always protects them. In his early life Dharmen Shah lived like a vagabond but his ardent desire for power transforms his life.
Power affirms a new identity to Dharmen Shah, he is not the ordinary man but he was a famous builder and a business man. Power made him the most influential
man in Mumbai. His respiratory system has been wrecked by the dust and dirt of his construction sites. His relentless drive for power destroys his health, but he cannot stop himself from achieving fame and power. Power is the basic drive that creates identity and motivates all the ventures in Dharmen Shah’s life.
The powerful administer their power through different devices. Language is an effective strategy to overpower others. Here, language acts as a means of subordination. Through the words of greetings, insults, counsel, promises, threats, seduction and professions of love, the dominant subordinate the powerless.
Adiga’s novels often emphasize the superiority of the English language
among other Indian languages. English language is used in the novel as a strategy of power. There are many instances in the novel which highlight the position of the English language. In Between the Assassinations, the power of English language is often stressed. Even the illiterate Xerox boy could understand the power of English and he is very proud of selling those English books.
History is not a set of facts outside the written text. Here the distinction between history and fiction collapses. History cannot be separated from literature and vice versa. History is not homogeneous and stable pattern of facts and events, which forms a background to the literature of an era that literature simply reflects. The author and the reader are subjects who are constructed and positioned by the conditions of their own era.
The text and co-text are seen as expressions of the same historical moment. In this novel, India is presented as brutal, totally corrupt and unjust, where people behave like animals. This picture of India is far distant from the shining India depicted in various articles and publications. The novel deconstructs the concept of the formal Indian history through the view of the marginalized individual.
Thus in both the novels The White Tiger and Between the Assassinations, Adiga has portrayed the social maladies with an insight of the sufferings of its characters. In fact it seems that everyonr is moving within their own assigned territory, but the author is able to show the conflict that immediately arise when someone steps into other people’s space and claims it. The focus is on the people who challenge the authority of a dominant discourse within the nation.
Through the novels, Adiga deconstructs the opposition between history and fiction. It justifies that history is not a logical representation of the past. There is no connection between the events. In his novels, the distinction between history and fiction merges. There is no perfect history, every historical fact is filtered thrice.
Adiga’s works explore the relation between power and knowledge. In
Adiga’s novels, family exercises the most profound influence over its members. Family moulds the character and identity of the individuals. Power is the prevailing force in all relationships be it husband and wife or parent and child. Family acts as a hegemonic mechanism where human relations are based on power. Adiga believes servitude is inbuilt in the Indian society.
Throughout the novels, he tries to draw a picture of utter servitude. Resistance is the hallmark of Adiga’s novels. His major characters derive pleasure in resisting the powerful.Very often they appear to support the well-being of an individual but in fact they subordinate and label the individual. It is an attempt to expose the workings of the psychology industry and the systematic forms of oppression that characterize the modern and the post-modern society.
The complex links between psychology and power has become an indispensable factor of modern power. Another aspect this chapter discusses is that there are certain psychological schools or systems which argue power to be the most important drive behind all human pursuits. Certain psychological schools of Freud, Adler, Maslow and Lacan consider that the quest for power and domination cause a variety of complexes and illnesses in the human personality.
Adiga presents a critique of the individual vices such as deceit, hypocrisy, avarice and false pride in one’s social status based on caste, religion and wealth and rotten religious, social and political systems which are working together for disintegration of human values and society as a whole. Adiga seems to implicitly suggest us to get rid of the individual vices, social evils and rotten systems through revolutionary social, economic, bureaucratic and political reforms. The issues raised by Adiga hold perpetual relevance for Indian society.
In the novel Between the Assassinations , when Adiga describes day one he shows the plight of the poor people. Children of a farm labouring family, works in a tea stall. Working in an age in which he should reap the joy of innocent childhood, he
develops a sense of isolation from the society. Left entirely to his own wits, he has to struggle for survival like an adult. In the town of Kittur, Muslims are marginalized from the mainstream social discourse. The shopkeepers near the railway station never hire a Muslim worker.
Adiga attacks politicians of India and says that Ganga is called a mother of Vedas, river of illumination protector of us all, breaker of chain of birth and rebirth but in reality it is polluted. Politicians who are only holdings meetings and doing nothing are responsible for this pollution. Aravind Adiga through his mouth piece comments on corrupt political system where bribery is more prevalent at every stage. in the novel, The White Tiger , Ashok bribes one officer after another and one minister after other to get tax exemption.
This culture of evasion and dishonesty pervades the thinking of middle elite class. Ashok represents this class who has different sets of moral principles and paradigms for theory and practice. They say something and do something different. He tries to say that the absence of morality and social responsibility among the rich and educated class has contributed to the rapid deterioration of cultural and ethical values.
In the novel Between the Assassinations, Adiga has raised a voice against bureaucratic corruption through the character of Abbasi, a god fearing Muslim businessman. Abbasi shuts down his factory as the embroidery work on the shirts damage the eyes of the employee women. Most of the snooker players owned or had unvested in factories that employed women in the same manner, however, none had thought of closing down the factory as they thought it is the fate of the women who went blind. The social conscience in Abbasi makes him get rid of this sin. He did not want to answer god for the damage being done to the eyes of his workers.
To re-open the factory, Abbasi had to overcome a number of obstacles. A simple minded creature vulnerable to the attacks of idealism, he is against corruption. His mind is always preoccupied with the thought to end up corruption. Corruption is
like a demon sitting on Abbasi’s brain and eating it with a fork and knife. He had thought that things would get fine with Rajiv Gandhi taking over but he’s let them all down. Everybody curses corruption.
Yet, not one fellow has found a way to slay the demon without giving up his share of the loot of corruption. Mrs. Gomes removes him and his sister from the work. In the bureaucratic world, truth is manipulated by capitalistic interests. If a man has money and power, he can buy anything at any cost. In such situation the poor is crushed under the deceit and hypocrisy. However, in our society, there are some people who have committed to discover truth and give justice to the poor and exploited ones. But they are many times helpless and feel lonely in their struggle against capitalistic world.
Gururaj Kamath, a young journalist who looks for the truth discovers brutal realities of life. He is fed up of the bureaucratic corruption, injustice, and politics around him. Gururaj has made significant discoveries about Hindu-Muslim riots and is stunned to learn that it is not just a religious riot but a riot engineered by the capitalists. He believes the minorities should have equal rights.
In the riots, the voice of this journalist had been the voice of reason in the midst of chaos. The reason behind the religious riot is real estate transaction in which the politicians are involved. In this planned violence, Muslim goons burned Muslim shops and Hindu goons burned Hindu shops. Adiga shows how media is manipulative and what the readers receive to be truth is nothing but a capitalist oriented truth.
In the novel The White Tiger, Adiga has shown that how rich people use their chauffeurs. He says that drivers are made to write confessions of accidents they have not committed. They take their master’s blame in order to save their masters. Balram has also done this in the novel. When his master’s wife Pinky gets drunk and runs over a slum dweller’s child in the night, he has to take her blame on his own head.
He has to sign a paper prepared by Mukesh that contained his confessions
of the crime. Here Adiga has sown thatpolice is also responsible to do so. It also does not care about the death of the poor people. This is the big tragedy of our India. As police does not bother to investigate the death of that poor child and Balram is saved in this way.
In the same way, Between the Assassinations shows us the picture of such India where poor people suffers double. In one of the news, an employee of a big tycoon Mr. Engineer is involved in an accident but the truth is manipulated with the power of money. Gururaj gets the news from the Gurkha that Mr. Engineer himself hit a man on his way back home; however the police reports were changed in favour of Mr. Engineer.
The tycoon gets one of the employees in his factory to say that he was driving the car when it happened. The guy gives the police a sworn affidavit. Then Mr. Engineer gives the judge six thousand rupees and the police four or five thousand and gets the car changed as it was a new Maruti Suzuki,giving the police another thousand tochange the identity of the killer car to a Fiat, and Mr. Engineer has his car and he drives around the town again.
Adiga created characters that mostly belong to minorities, to the lower classes and are not afraid of facing the chaos of life. His exposure of the loamy side of democratic India can be taken as a challenge before the government. If government focuses and works on those dark areas of India to cure the sick image of India, undoubtedly a new India will emerge on the world horizon.
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