Based on the book, think about the  definition of happiness, the power of hope, and the problematic nature of progress. What roles do they play in this book?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I had to pare down the original question a bit as it was asking multiple questions that could be reposted as they are all indepth and rich.  For the author, it becomes clearly evident that she wishes to make clear that the march of India towards globalized acceptance and wealth acquisition has to be done with the idea of how all of its citizens are advancing.  This construction involves a depiction of progress that is problematic.  As skyscrapers and the most representative notions of wealth are present, the life of the slums and abject poverty are also evident, living side by side.  Katherine Boo herself noted this as part of her motivation in writing the book:

I generally find issues of poverty, opportunity, and global development to be over-theorized and under- reported. And it seemed to me that in India, as in the U.S., some of the experts most ready to describe how lower-income people are faring weren’t spending much time with those people.

For the author, progress is problematic when it is defined only in terms of the materialist and the rich.  Boo's work speaks to how a paradigm shift of progress must be adopted in order to adequately identify what constitutes "progress."  It is this in which there is a clear distinction as to how progress must be a more encompassing vision, one in which more people are included in its calculus.