One of the exploited millions

One of the exploited millions

White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

Journalist Aravind Adiga wanted to discover why India doesn't have the violence that plagues much of the developing world, such as Latin America or Africa. Rapid development and the disparity between wealth and poverty seems to go along with a breakdown of law and order, but India lacks the rampant crime of other developing nations.

His book The White Tiger explains the reasons for this far better than any academic paper could. The story is given through a series of letters written to the Chinese Premier before an upcoming trip to India. Balram writes his story because he wants Wen Jiabao to understand the real India.

Balram is born in a small town in the “darkness” of rural India. The first part of the book is his journey into the “light” – to Dehli, the big city, where he works as a servant for India’s growing class of men made wealthy by globalization.

Here in the city, though he has escaped the slavery of poverty in the village, his freedom is no greater, and he learns the answer to the main question of the book. The poor are kept servile and relatively honest by their family commitments. Any chance of a servant’s escape by betraying his masters is prevented by the threat of murder to his entire family.

Balram does escape; therefore he calls himself the White Tiger. He was different; one in a million. Through his letters he invites the Chinese Premier to understand the untapped power of India and its similarities to China. He predicts that “twenty years’ time, it will just be us brown and yellow men at the top of the pyramid, and we'll rule the whole world.”

Besides poverty and exploitation, the book touches on themes of culture, religion, prejudice, adventure and crime. Balram’s struggle becomes the struggle of a whole class of people stuck between poverty and development. It’s a fast, engaging read that teaches a lot about globalization, economics and the future of the developing world.