Throw a Stone, Hit Corruption

I think one of the biggest issues, and maybe the most obvious, that appears in The White Tiger is the problem of corruption.  We see many occasions of officials taking bribes, the fact that the elections are rigged, and even the court system is shown to be laughable – and not in a “haha that’s funny” way either.  Things seem bleak as we read about the state of things in the book.

We talked about the corrupt officials and the rigged voting in class, but getting some examples of how the courts work was both surprising and not.  On page 170, Balram says, “Yes, that’s right: we all live in the world’s greatest democracy here.”  He then proceeds to tell us how the judges “are in the racket too” when relating to us the possibility of going to jail for something his employer’s wife did.  No hope for the innocent and guilty walk free as Balram also tells us that “[t]he jails of Delhi are full of drivers who are there behind bars because they are taking the blame for their good, solid middle-class masters.”

Later, on page 215, we’re told about a judge that made a decision which the lawyer didn’t like.  Instead of obeying any kind of law and following the penalty issued by the judge, the judge gets ignored and then beaten.  No wonder most of them will just take the bribe.

This book is still relatively new, but there are groups trying to fight the corruption, groups that haven’t yet been mentioned in the book, if they will be at all.  When I searched “India court corruption” this link was one of the most recent news updates.  It looks like there was a big scandal several years back involving the telecommunication market and the UPA (United Progressive Alliance), but despite a request to bring Telecom Minister A Raja under prosecution for corruption, not much has been done.  The big problem is that there needs to be a go-ahead given by the Prime Minister who then suggests it to the President for any officials that are called into question in concerns to corruption.  There have been attempts to get a new bill passed that would make the current permissions required for prosecution unneeded, but there have been hang-ups in the Rajya Sabha, a house in India’s Parliament, which have stopped the bill from being passed.

It’s unnerving to be given a glimpse of the blatant corruption that was, and still is, going on in India through Adiga’s book.  This isn’t said from a pedestal though, specially considering the way lobbying works here in our own country.  I wonder if Adiga will end with some kind of hope for the future of politics in India, or if we’ll be left with another uncertain ending like Delillo’s.


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