Who or what is the Great Socialist in The White Tiger?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this book, the “Great Socialist” is a symbol representing politicians in India. The title “Great Socialist” is ironic because contrary to expectations, the politicians do not adhere to socialism but instead exploit the poor people to their selfish advantage. Balram narrates how the “Great Socialist” is corrupt in all his ways and extorts money from the wealthy businessmen in order to pardon their unscrupulous ventures. The “Great Socialist” has been in power for a decade due to open election malpractices and his culture of fraud has nurtured a system of corruption so deeply established that other people who intend to dethrone him have to be corrupt themselves. His political symbol, two hands breaking shackles, is even more ironic because instead of liberating the people and making their condition better, the “Great Socialist” worsens it and pushes them deeper into darkness.

teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The White Tiger, the "Great Socialist" is not an actual person, but an amalgamation of corrupt politicians in India who claim to embrace the tenets of socialism.  As Balram continues to gain knowledge of the inner workings of business and politics in India, he understands that rich politicians are more than willing to make their fortune off the back of the lower classes in the country.  The progress that is sweeping the country is only for the benefit of the higher classes, while many are left living in poverty.  Balram calls the leading politician the "Great Socialist" as a mockery of the corrupted politics of the time.  So, the "Great Socialist" serves as a symbol and metaphor in the novel, and not necessarily an allusion to someone specific.