The Corruption of the Law Enforcement in Aravind Adiga’s Novel The White Tiger
“The corruption in reporting starts very early. It’s like the police reporting on the police (Julian Assange).” In Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger, there is an abundance of corruption throughout India in the police department and law enforcement. Because of the corruption all over India, law enforcement has transformed into a system of bribed police officers that disregard the law for their own personal benefits instead of doing their job correctly and aiding the community.
Law enforcement throughout India has been corrupt for many years and is becoming more of an accepted way of life. It is becoming more of an exception rather than a rule. In The White Tiger, Mr. Ashok put the blame of the murder Pinky Madam committed onto Balram, a loyal servant of the wealthy family. Ashok instructs his lawyer to bribe the possible judge for the case. Despite Balram’s essentially calm exterior, he was thinking “The judges? Wouldn’t they see through this obviously forced confession? But they are in the racket too. They take their bribe, they ignore the discrepancies in the case. And life goes on (Adiga 145).” However, he said, not once did he think about telling the judge the truth about what had really happened. Balram briefly describes how corrupt the Indian law enforcement is and how if you were wealthy, they would accomplish anything they were inquired. Consequently, David H. Bayley concluded, “In sum, the Indian public not only believes that there is a good deal of corruption in the police . . . but about one out of five has seen it and a similar proportion has taken the lesson to heart and would take money with them in their dealings with the police in order to secure action (286-288).” A teeming amount of people have experienced corruption first hand in India and do not have trust in the police today. In fact, ‘the real problem is not the system, the real problem is that the people are corrupt (Quah).’
To break free of the “darkness” Balram must escape to the “light” to prepare himself for a better life that lies ahead. When he becomes the great entrepreneur he always dreamed of, Balram starts off running with his new White Tiger Drivers Company by paying off the assistant commissioner of the police department. Giving the assistant commissioner a small offering for his gratitude, ‘He counted the money—ten thousand rupees—heard what [Balram] wanted, and asked for double. [Balram] gave him a bit more, and he was happy (Adiga 256).’ This shows that most of the police in India will yield a bribe knowing there is a high chance that they will not get caught. According to P.C. Alexander, “ as the probability of detecting and punishing corrupt [police] behavior is not high in India, the public perceives corruption as a low risk, high reward activity as those involved in corrupt practices are unlikely to be detected and punished.” Even though there is a low risk, high reward most police officers believe taking bribes is above them since they mandate the law. It is because of the corrupt law enforcement that corruption is slowly getting worse in India. In fact, it is the people that are corrupt. These police officers will do almost anything to get more money and if that means breaking the law, then they will do it. “On the other hand, corruption is a fact of life in a country when cases of corruption are the exception rather that the rule (Pope).” It is because of corruption that people like Balram have a chance to get out of the “darkness” and escape into the “light”.
Throughout The White Tiger, Adiga expresses how corruption plays a part in the every day lives of India’s people. Balram takes advantage of the opportunities put in front of him and becomes part of the system and raises his social mobility. As Balram transitions into Ashok Sharma, he comes face to face with the police department to accomplish his objective; to gain his White Tiger Drivers Company a job. To do so, he bribes the police assistant commissioner, which helps him in the long run with some issues. When one of Ashok’s drivers had hit and killed a person’s brother with his Qualis, the brother insisted on filing a claim to the police. Ashok Sharma takes responsibility for the accident because ‘the assistant commissioner who sat in the station was a man whom I had lubricated often . . . He was the worst kind of man, who had nothing in his mind but taking money from everyone who came into his office. Scum. But he was my scum (Adiga 264).’ Because of the corruption throughout the police department, he was able to help himself and his company from failing. Ashok’s personal achievement was increasing his social mobility due to the corruption in India, and he would not have been able to accomplish his goal without it.
Corruption has become a way of life for most Indians, they accept it and move on. It has evolved into an exception rather than a rule in Indian society. There is becoming less trust in the Indian police to do what is right, because about one in five people have experienced the corrupt police department first hand. Instead of doing the moral thing, police officers in India have chosen to disregard the law for their own personal benefits to take in more money.
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