Social Hierarchy Evidence from The White Tiger

This paper discusses social hierarchy as one of the main factors contributing to poverty in India. While taking cues from the novel, The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, this paper draws insights from peer reviewed resources to confirm that caste system contributes to poverty.  The main argument of this paper is mainly grounded on social inequalities or the established system in societal hierarchy as one of the causes of poverty in India.

The basic plot of The White Tiger centers around Balram Halwai, the protagonist and the main character of the story who grows up in an impoverished village of Laxmangarh, India and ends up working as a driver for the rich and urbanized Ashok. Ashok comes from the clan of feudal landlords who ruin or even run the lives of Halwais folks residing at the village. Although Ashok comes from the well-off feudal family and treats Halwai way better than he treats the other servants and chauffeurs, Halwai seizes the chance to kill his master and run-off with large amount of money enough to establish him as a wealthy businessman in India.

The protagonists journey from having lowly origins coming from the remote village describe as the darkness, to the murder of his employer, and to his transformation into a businessman is retold through the letters sent by Halwai and addressed to Wen Jiabao, the Premier of the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China.

The novel reveals the dark issue of social hierarchy through the usage of metaphors and allegories aiming at the negative impact of caste system. According to Halwai, those people who continue to be eaten by the predator are being trapped inside a small closed cage known as the rooster coop that limit their opportunities to explore greater heights.

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
The White Tiger is a critically acclaimed novel by Aravind Adiga that posits the destructive virtues of contemporary India. The novel depicts social and economic inequalities by drawing insights from the life of its main character, Balram Halwai who distinguishes two separate worlds existing in the third world nation. One of the two disparate worlds of Halwai include the small and remote village of Laxmangarh where he was born and raised to become a laborer. The village is located in the Darkness, a specific backward part of India controlled by crooked and feudally powerful landlords that instigate societal inequalities in the land.  The darkness of the village urges the main character to question, there is no water in our taps, and what do you people in Delhi give us you give us cell phones. Can a man drink a phone when he is thirsty

Born in a region which is under the cruel jurisdiction of feudal lords, Halwais parents could not even provide him with a proud name and instead, they just called him boy of lowly origin due to the fact that powerful families control everything in the land, the opportunities are very limited in the region, and almost everyone is destined to be servants of feudal families. Halwai says, the desire to be a servant had been bred into me hammered into my skull, nail after nail, and poured into my blood, the way sewage and industrial poison are poured into Mother Ganga. The author is able to emphasize that the remote village is a place of extreme hopelessness by citing its allegorical figures of corrupt wealth the four particular landlords who are given animalistic names by the white tiger, Halwai himself. The Great Socialist appears in the picture through his re-election by virtue of false promises of change and corrupt electioneering.

The other disparate world of Halwai is the sliver of the Indian state which he inhabits as a humble driver for the westernized son of the village landlord, Ashok.  The city where the protagonist is taken to render service for Ashok offers him the realization that there is a new societal system mobilizing in both India and the world and this system possesses some Hindu features.

In the countenance of Halwai, glamorous and fancy malls, which are  a forbidden place for him, the air-conditioned Honda the he drives, and the red purse consisting of large amount of money for politicians who possess power over The Storks enterprise constitute the crazy city.

The White Tiger takes the form of a series of letters written by the protagonist and addressed  to Wen Jiabao, the Premier of the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China, on the eve of his visit in New Delhi. In the conversation, the protagonist recounts his story as a boy with lowly origins residing in the Darkness where education and electricity are scarced  and where people commonly banter about election like eunuchs discussing Kama Sutra. Halwai then shifts the topic to his transformation to becoming a killer.

The darkly comic explicates the factors why chauffeur Halwai murders his employer and tries to justify the crime as an act of social entrepreneur. Halwai divulges that his rage is deeply rooted out from the avarice of the upper class society in New Delhi.

Although, Halwais social journey from rags to riches is replete with cliched conversations and representations which are a common feature in the Indian contemporary literature, the novel confirms Indias longstanding battle against the backlash of its societal hierarchy.  As the author excludes the subject of the prevalence of good will over evil deeds, he is able to emphasize the true emotion of men against inhumanities and is able to expose the reason why people of lower class commit illegal acts and misdeeds to pursue their own intention.

Caste System and the Disadvantaged Minority Groups in India
 The caste system of India is a Hindu societal order containing features that are in contrast with the legally accepted characteristics of international human rights framework. Since its independence, the Indian state has been deeply troubled with the widespread of poverty and has implemented anti-poverty legislations to address the crisis.

The Indian government has long been using public policy to eliminate caste-based discrimination to prevent social breakdown and to uplift the economic status of the impoverished groups. At the center of the nations pursuit is the implementation of the constitutional mandate which ensures the presence of the legislators belonging to minority groups in state and national legislatures.

But still, several legal initiatives and measures aiming at the complete demise of caste-based discrimination are unable to hinder the presence of the ancient social hierarchy in the daily lives of Indians. The country tends to deny its citizens the freedom to partake in the benefits and advantages of representative democracy. Indians have long been silenced when it comes to the establishment of fair and just government policies. As a result of Indias dysfunctional democracy, caste system is strengthened and has contributed to the economic deprivation of those born into lower states.

In a relevant research, Yoko Kijima says that despite policies targeting scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST), there remain large disparities of living standards between the SCSt and non SCST household in India.  Kijima adds that the SCST households may be poorer because they possess lower human and physical capital , but they may also earn lower returns to these assets.  In this study, it can be argued that the historically disadvantaged minority groups in India are the ones who have to deal with the states lack of complete policy commitment targeting the demise of the caste system together with its setbacks.

Adigas representation of Halwai as coming from the impoverished region of India  is a strategic move aiming at the exposing what India has become since the advent of  modernization, a period which the upper class  has taken advantaged of making the poor, poorer and the rich, richer. 

The novel is suggestive of the fact that due to the failure of Indias government to enact laws meant to alleviate social hierarchy, those who belong to the lower class of the caste system will be the finite slaves of the rich and wealthy westernized first class Indians.

The lack of strong commitment of the policy-makers in India has encouraged the creation of politics of caste and religion, not only as an academic exercise, but also as a developmental practice.  A recent study suggests that the existing policies should never be ignored or be viewed as anachronistic or backward, instead, they should be perceived as opportunities for development activists to facilitate grassroots initiatives and involvement leading to a higher degree of democratization.

The untouchable status of Indias caste system been studied by several scholars who are at one in saying that India has its own social system that differs from the social stratification system found in the other parts of the world and it also possesses social, economic and political institutions that wee mostly static and unchanging.

Although, the caste system of India was perceived to be a unique system by classical theorists, Halwai of the White Tiger never believes in the uniqueness of such structure because the system is nothing but a glitch to him. In the eyes of the Halwai, some of the oppressive features of the Indian social hierarchy are segmental division of society hierarchy restrictions on feeding and social intercourse civil and religious privileges lack of unrestricted choice of occupation and restrictions on marriage.

For Halwai, the restrictions and limitations allowed him to form an inner uprising against the tyrant society and to resort to murder as an answer to the turmoil. Halwai is saddened for what the country has become after its long journey towards equal societal progress. It can be said that the country is badly modified by globalization and effects of industrialization. Halwais decision to murder upper class Ashok and take all his money to become a rich businessman signifies that Americanization and multiculturalism have already shaped and turned Hindu traditions away from social security. 

The basic pursuit of Indians towards socio-economic security can be divided into fur realms which are food, health, housing, education and employment.  Considering himself as deprived of the five categories, Halwai considers himself as a lifetime slave because the lowest class of the society has not been given ways to socially secure itself.  Most of the socially unsecured Indians are concentrated in the rural area wherein 47. 6 percent of the population  are deprived with all of the five categories.  Such deprivation is attributable to poverty because the lower class is left with tiny holdings scarced with financial support bestowed with little resources to take the risks of the unknown and has no aspiration for the improvement of lives.

The novels portrayal of social divide in India reveals how a hopeless Indian is able to penetrate the countrys corrupt system to be able get what he desires at the steepest of worth. Though witty and comic, Adigas book is a brutal presentation of Indias class struggles and how anger and envy derived from poverty and social inequalities breed murder. The book is a visible proof of the finite battle of India to re-establish its society free from inequalities and guided by fair and just laws and legislations.

According to the book, India is a land trapped in a mono-classic belief in its traditions. The country needs a reform that will embrace the indigenous and impoverished society as individuals deserving of equal socio-economic opportunities. India needs to strengthen its policies targeting the lower class to be able to instigate progress and to evenly distribute the advantages and benefits of a rewarding economy and international partnerships with other nations.


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