The White Tiger is Aravind Adiga’s debut novel which won him the prestigious 2008 Booker Prize. After Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Desai he becomes the fourth Indian born author to win this prize. In this novel we can find a humorous perspective of class struggle in Indian society. It is not merely a novel but it examines some serious issues like poverty, religion, caste and corruption in India. Balram Halwai is a village boy who presents a fine retrospective narration blended with a sense of realism in the present novel. His life can be seen as a journey as he visits different places like Delhi and Bangalore. He works as a chauffeur in Delhi and later goes to Bangalore. He steals the money after killing his master. Later he becomes an entrepreneur and establishes his own taxi services. Adiga says about his novel that it-

“ attempts to catch the voice of the men you meet as you travel through India- the voice of the colossal underclass.”1

It is a kind of satire on democracy practiced in India. There are two countries in a single nation. These two countries are India of Light and India of darkness. In India of Light we can find technology, strength, wealth and knowledge whereas in India of darkness we can find weakness, misery, illiteracy and destitution. The novelist has tried to present a typical Indian society where majority of people strives for equality and justice. The present novel is an epistolary novel which means that it was written in a letter form to Wen Jiabo. Balram Halwai is the protagonist of this novel who symbolically stands for the entrepreneurs of modern India. The story has been narrated by him in over seven days and nights. This story can also be seen as his journey from darkness to light. As an entrepreneur Balram wants to keep in touch with Wen Jiabo who is a Chinese premier who wants to understand entrepreneurship in India. The setting of the novel is at Laxmangarh which acts like a sample village for Adiga. Here villagers are tormented and exploited by the landlord. Corruption has also not spared prestigious institutions like school. Few lines from the novel are interesting to quote here-

“That was supposed to be free food at my school- a government programme gave every boy three rotis, yellow dal, and pickles and everyone knew why: the school teacher had stolen our lunch money….once, a truck came into the school with information that the government had sent for us; we never saw them, but a week later they turned up for sale in the neighboring village.”2

Balram is a kind of person who is aspiring to overcome his social position. He becomes the driver of landlord’s son Ashok and comes to Delhi. Here he understands the wide gap between the rich and the poor. A corrupt culture is seen in this novel where we can find that workers have no option other than migration. Poor farmers and villagers are migrated to large cities only to earn their bread and butter. In large cities they struggle to work. Either they break themselves or break the records. This image of India is the real image where we cannot deny  that poor farmers and villagers are helpless. Adiga wants to show us that the great economic miracle of india is driven through bribery and corruption. These are the dark areas of India. It can be cured and I think that Adiga wants to grab our attention on such realities. The tragedy of the country lies in the fact that most of the politicians are ‘half –baked’. The story of Balram reveals that honesty is not the best policy and one has to be half-baked to overcome his social position. Working honestly can feed you well but it will not make you a money tycoon. Balram is produced out of the dark situation. Characters like him need to be educated in a school where teachers are not stealing the lunch money. It can happen not only in dream but in realities if thought like Adiga. Characters like Ashok and Mukesh bribe the ministers to settle their black money. Aravind Adiga says that-

“The White Tiger tries to give literary voice to a man from our gigantic underclass, which is over four hundred million strong, according to recent estimates…. the portrait of Balram Halwai may challenge the deeply held if not always openly stated, assumptions that many in the middle class hold about the poor that they are stupid, easily manipulated, excessively religious and bound by caste and family. It is an attack on a rotten political system that is stopping half of this country from achieving its potential…”3

Power is transferred from one political party to another but fate of the common man remains the same. We keep on discussing about politics but we fail to chose a sensible government. The novelist has tried to convince that it is the duty of the citizens to take care of the country. It can be understood by some powerful lines taken from the novel-

“People in this country are still waiting for the war of their freedom to come from somewhere else- from the jungles, from the mountains, from China, from Pakistan. That will never happen. Every man must make his own Benaras.”4

At last it is convincing to see that the novelist has given a detailed account of India which is realistic both in sense and approach. The various facets of the rural and the urban society has been revealed. The portrait of india has been generated through the cities like Laxmangarh, Gaya, Dhanbad, Delhi and Banglore. The dark image of the country has been displayed through illiteracy, corruption, poverty, superstition, cultural conflict and many more. It is interesting to find that nothing has changed even in 2020 as the youths are still talking about politics as –“eunuchs discussing the Kama sutra.”5


  1. Young, Victoria. “Novel About India Wins Man Booker Prize”. Retrieved 8 May 2012
  3. Ibid.
  4. Adiga,Aravind. The White Tiger,p304
  5. Ibid.p.98