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One of the major themes in The White Tiger is the complexity beneath progress. Throughout the novel, Balram discusses the "new India," one that is on the surface viewed as a bustling economy in which people can prosper. When Balram drives Mr. Ashok around the city, he often describes the billboards that he sees over the streets--sometimes the billboards are for products and other times they highlight the grand political times under the Great Socialist. These billboards are symbols of the "new India." However, under the surface of this bustling economy lies the political corruption that fuels an economy that only really benefits the social elite. Mr. Ashok and his family often bribe politicians to look the other way as they continue corrupt business practices. Further, Balram speaks of the squatter camps that line the city--in such high times, why are people still so obviously poor? The billboards are a symbolic reminder of the great disparities that still exist in the "new India."
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