ImageTitle : The White Tiger

Author : Aravind Adiga

ISBN-10 : 1416562591

ISBN-13 : 978-1416562597

Paperback : 288 pages

The Plot :

Aravind Adiga’s ‘The White Tiger’ is a novel that provides a darkly humorous perspective of life in current India. The book is a retrospective narration told in the form of a letter to the Chinese Premier, by Balram Halwai, a rickshaw pullers son, who manages in his own right to become an entrepreneur. It deals with various issues like poverty, corruption, the caste system, globalization and most importantly a man’s struggle for freedom in India all set against the background of the vast difference between the rich and poor in India which is made even more evident by its juxtaposition in a place like New Delhi.

The entire book is a letter that the protagonist, Balram has written to the Chinese Premier. It is a story of how he escapes a life of servitude and manages to become the owner of a successful business. He calls himself the white tiger as it is a very rare and he feels he is one of the rare people in India, who is born with nothing and manages to become an entrepreneur. He feels that he is the representation of real India as opposed to the big business men who were born with a silver spoon.

The book begins with Balrams childhood in Laxmanghar, a rural village in what he calls “the darkness” in India. He is the son of a rickshaw puller. He was a clever child and was good at school but had to drop out due to family obligations. He is made to work at a tea shop as menial labour with his brother in Dhanbad. While working there he eaves drops on all his customers’ conversations and starts to learn about the Indian economy and the government. He knows that he is not the optimal worker and has aspirations to be a driver instead.

Soon he manages to learn to drive and lands a job as a driver for Ashok, the son of a local landlord. Soon he is relocated to New Delhi with Ashok and his wife Ms Pinky Madam. During his time in the country’s capital he is exposed to a lot of new things. He sees great amounts of wealth and how the rich spend it. He sees a totally different life style than what he is used to. And the most evident thing that he notices is the overwhelming contrast between the rich and the poor living in the same city. Here he also sees the vast extents of corruption in all offices, high and low.

One night as his boss’ wife, Ms Pinky, is driving she hits something on the streets which she thinks is a child. Her husband pays off the poor family and their problem disappears. Similarly, Balram sees his boss involved in a lot of other corrupt activities and using money to get rid of his problems. That is when he decides to murder Ashok and run away with his entire boss’ money and use it to start a new life where he would not have to be subservient to anyone.

He moves to Bangalore, the new hub of IT and businesses in India, with the stolen money and starts his own business. He is convinced that Ashok’s father, the local landlord would have killed his entire family to avenge his sons murder. In the end he justifies his murdering his boss, saying that his freedom was worth Ashok’s life.

What drew me to the book initially was the fact that it had a very ominous tone form the beginning. It showed a very different side of India. It showed the juxtaposition of wealth and poverty within India and how vast the difference is. In essence it is a story of a man fighting for his freedom. He may not have used the correct means for it but did what he though would get him out of a self-perpetuating situation. It is brutally honest, beautifully written and the story line is gripping. An excellent read overall.


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