Son of a rickshaw puller, the non conventional protagonist of The White Tiger, Balram Halwai, narrates the story of his life and his movement from darkness to light, in a very tongue in cheek manner aiming to unravel how the ruling capitalist ideology never allows the poverty stricken to come up into the limelight. But “the white tiger”, devoid of any formal education, cleverly makes his way to the top and also finds a place for himself in the “glamorous India.” The ooze by which Munna drives his fate from the midnight world i.e. of the disabled India (his village laxmangarh), to the city of silicon-valley of India, is worth exploring. His movement from being taken out of school as a young boy to being employed at a tea stall and gaining his partial but practical education over their to his job as a chauffeur and the culmination of his dreams to make it big, the book makes every possible attempt to entertain, enthrall as well as shock the readers out of their wits.
Published on 22nd April, 2008, The book was conceived as Adiga travelled various villages of India and was surprised as well as perturbed at the unconditional honesty displayed by servants across the country and the universal disregard that they get in return leading them to embrace corrupt, ugly ways for their personal benefit which has been held back for years by the ruling class to maintain the hierarchy and in the process consolidate their power.
This debut novel from an Indian Journalist living in Mumbai is a revelation, both shocking and satiric, of an “India of light” and an “India of Darkness” and how the two exist simultaneously, undercutting as well as struggling to overpower each other, each creating its own plethora of dream.
Arvind Adiga knows how to hijack his readers. I still have the hangover of the book and Adiga’s attempt to pour in the “voice of the unheard” is tremendous. His work has an unusual wit, and with it, he takes the responsibility and completes his task, imparting us loopholes in the servant master relationship as well as reflecting satirically on the systems that govern India. Written in the form of a series of letters addressed to Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, the book exhibits exquisite humour and spastic wit and is a powerful satire at a country that lacks clean drinking water and electricity but abounds in the number of entrepreneurs.
A country marred by corruption and rampant poverty, and the protagonist, a victim of the system sounds conventional at times but the same, however, is presented in a witty and satiric manner. Each sentence, each phase strikes a sharp commentary at the existing system revealing its underlying dynamics which are worth venturing into and enhance the understanding of the power dynamics that operate in the society and how these are maintained. All this is woven into an interesting and comic skin tailor made for the cynical Indian Audience. I loved the presentation and wish to read it many more times and enjoy the pungent, unabashed satire.
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