The White Tiger and Entrepreneurship

The White Tiger refers to a novel authored by Adiga from India in 2008. The novel contrasts the main character who comes from poor background and the Indian rise of economy. Through his novel, Aravind Adiga reveals the vices committed by the elite and the government in modern India. Rampant corruption and inaccessibility of education in the rural areas lead to more poverty while the wealthy urban dwellers engage in corruption and illicit trade. The narrator talks about his humble background and the circumstances under which he became an entrepreneur in modern India. Through the narrator’s eye, viewers discover many illicit activities carried out by the elite in conjunction with the government. Adiga focuses on the undoing by India’s government, which are reminiscent of a neocolonialist regime. Although the narrator Adiga’s novels hails from a poor family in the village, he proves that he can reach the height of entrepreneurship in the city, the morality of his business strategies notwithstanding.

In the novel The White Tiger, Balram Halwai refers to himself as an entrepreneur because of his many efforts to do business in the city, most of which are fruitful. Moreover, he rose from community peasant to successful entrepreneur through eavesdropping on conversations. This is because he was forced to leave school to work where he was hired as a driver. Balram also had faith in his exceptionalism thus; he did not care much about social expectations. He always thought of himself being a white tiger, which is a spirit of an entrepreneur. However, a technical definition of entrepreneurship considers an entrepreneur as one who owns his or her business. From this standpoint, it the entrepreneurship of Balram is contentious because he uses unlawful means to acquire most of his businesses in the city. In essence, Balram spends a significant portion of his narration reflecting on the qualities of an entrepreneur. His obsession with entrepreneurship leads him to kill Ashok, his boss, and corrupt his way into a taxi business. Having come from a humble background and experienced first-hand injustice from the elite, Balram’s concept of entrepreneurship is skewed to a certain extent. Perhaps his half-baked nature and informs his conception of entrepreneurship.


In accordance with the views of Stokes, s Wilson, and Mador, the Indian systems favor the wealthy who reside in the city in that the poor people cannot access lucrative business opportunities in the countryside because they lack the bribes that the elite demand. However, Balram uses his misfortune to his advantage by going to work in the city. In real sense, Balram is an entrepreneur who takes all sorts of risks in order to achieve his objectives. The conversations by customers in the teashop enlighten Balram about life in the city, especially the rampant corruption by the Indian government. This business insight sharpens Balram’s mind with regard to the Indian government, economy, and other aspects of the society. Balram’s misfortunes act as stepping-stones for him to achieve his goals as an entrepreneur by learning the skills through working for people. Gottschalksuggests that business skills do not necessarily correspond to one’s academic background, which is the case with Balram. Balram goes against odds to fend for himself in a city where the vulnerable do not have access to opportunities that could uplift their lives.

Balram’s obsession with entrepreneurship stems from his dismal socio-economic background. According to the narrator, an entrepreneur is one who uses all means to acquire businesses and advance his business interests. In Balram’s mind, India is divided into two, namely the rural ‘Darkness’ and the urban ‘Light,’ representing impoverishment and affluence respectively. Accordingly, Balram believes that an entrepreneur uses any means to escape a servitude life and enter the ‘Rooster Coop’. Gottschalk states that the upper class is entrepreneurial because they intentionally corrupt their way up the socio-economic ladder. Although Balram attempts to explain the concept of entrepreneurship through his various undertakings, it is worth noting that the text is not sufficiently critical of the discourse of entrepreneurship.

Balram’s entrepreneurial skills come from his experience when he works for various people. He could also eavesdrop other people conversation so as to educate himself since he had droped form school at an early age.Although the narrator lacks formal business skills and qualifications, he is the ‘Tiger’ in the novel because of his enterprising skills. In his quest to improve his life, Balram struggles against many odds, the fact that he dropped out of school at an early age notwithstanding. In essence, the smartness of Balram earns him the title ‘The White Tiger’ in the novel, primarily because unlike his impoverished counterparts in the village of Laxmangarh. In essence, Balram is not an accomplished businessperson because he uses crooked ways to attain wealth.

From a technical standpoint, an entrepreneur looks for opportunities to make profits regardless of business ownership. Entrepreneur refers to a person who owns a business, however Balram does not own any business but he seeks opportunities. This statement qualifies Balram as an entrepreneur because he seeks investment opportunities with businesses that he does not own. Besides working for his boss, Balram kills his boss with the aim of stealing his money and building a business empire. In the end, Balram succeeds in his business endeavors, though he uses some uncouth strategies. However, entrepreneurship means taking risks in business environments where uncertainties are limitless. Balram perfects this strategy by imitating what the business elite do in the city to get rich. In essence, Balram exemplifies how corruption, murder, and all sorts of economic evils ail modern India. It is worth noting that Balram narrates his story after his epic transformation. This is the reason why the narrator wants his letter to reach the Chinese Prime Minister. The prime minister is also a sign of authority and by reading the letter; the narrator was sure action it has landed in the right hands.

Adiga uses Balram as his narrator to expose the evils committed by the Indian government and the elite against the rural folk, escalating impoverishment in the rural areas. The novel features a dominating figure, who are the city dwellers with the perception that successful entrepreneurship involving the oppressing the poor.Balram narrates a lot about entrepreneurship besides referring to himself as one to portray the perception of the concept of entrepreneurship in modern India and its adverse consequences.

To sum up, Aravind Adiga interacts extensively with the theme of entrepreneurship, as they relate to corruption, oppression, and neocolonialism. In his novel The White Tiger, Adiga portrays his entrepreneurial skills in addition to highlighting the economic evils in the city that act as a hindrance to economic freedom among the rural folk. Balram is the narrator in the novel and he calls himself an entrepreneur because of his successful efforts to start a taxi business in the city. Although he murders his boss and corrupts an officer, his entrepreneurial skills are unquestionable. Balram Halwai spends several passages in the novel, from the beginning to the end, reflecting on the qualities of an entrepreneur to uncover the ambiguities that tie the concept of entrepreneurship among the elite. To that extent, the text is critical of the discourse of entrepreneurship.

Feb 9, 2020 in Research
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