The Complexity Beneath Progress

India, like China, is emerging as one of the most powerful economies in the world, and Balram refers to the changing country as “new India.” Balram discusses how the “white” economies of the past have failed while highlighting the opportunities that are now available in India. However, beneath this narration, Adiga emphasizes that there are many implied virtues beneath the title “new India” and that the media’s tendency to buy into this new age whitewashes serious problems that India still faces.

Adiga emphasizes that the independent Indian state arose due to the nonviolent, perhaps “pure,” actions of Mahatma Gandhi. The ghost of these pure beginnings is recalled particularly when Balram and Mr. Ashok return from a trip in which Mr. Ashok has bribed officials and see a billboard portraying Gandhi. Throughout the novel, Balram refers to the corruption of the police and the government. According to Balram, the new India has been built on bribes, and those with enough money to buy their passage around the law benefit financially. Balram overhears the conversations of his employers, and it becomes obvious that Mr. Ashok and his family have paid large sums of money in bribes to keep their coal business in operation. Balram finds great irony in the wanted posters that are distributed by the police after he murders Mr. Ashok. If nothing else, it seems that the prosperity that distinguishes India as a global economy is built on a morally ambiguous foundation.

The class conflicts that existed before the birth of the modern Indian state also endure. The new India is experiencing a time of phenomenal economic growth, and Mr. Ashok and his family are making a great deal of money with their coal business. However, this is not a time of economic prosperity for all. Deeply realized class divisions still exist in India. Balram, who works as a driver for Mr. Ashok, often gets lost...

(The entire section is 790 words.)