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The spread of globalisation and its influence has opened many doors and has, to a large extent, impacted on the cultures and traditions of many countries in the globalising world. Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger showcases some of the most important aspects of the effects of globalisation on Indian culture, such as the disenfranchising of traditional structures such as marriage, family life and social mobility and the caste system. Globalisation is also linked with cultural corruption and Americanisation and westernisation, and has made social, ethical and personal boundaries more fluid and mobile. Balram’s motivations can be seen as prime examples of the changes occurring in India due to globalisation and his actions also reflect the changing cultural values and attitudes in globalising India.
The breakdown of traditional social structures such as marriage, family life, social mobility (or the lack thereof) and the caste system is a result of the vulnerability of tradition and culture to the changes brought about by globalisation. The spread of ideas, information and technology due to globalisation has impacted severely on the traditional ways of life in The White Tiger, and not only on Balram himself, but others around him. Balram’s master Ashok’s marriage to Pinky Madam is a break in the traditional ways of marriage as she is not from his caste and Pinky’s background as an American also threatens old cultural roles and ways of thinking. Ashok’s education in America and his return to India also upsets traditional methods and social roles within Indian society, such as his insistence on treating the servants better, which is derided by both his brother and father. The colonisation of India by the British also leaves the Indian caste system in a state of disarray; Balram illustrates this by saying that there are now only those with ‘big bellies’ and ‘small bellies’, illustrating the divide between rich and poor that colonisation and the spread of globalisation has left behind. The position of Balram’s family in the traditional narrative is also threatened; Balram chooses to leave them behind in order to pursue a new future in the rapidly globalising and modernising world. Globalisation has, to a large extent, impacted on the cultures and traditions of India in The White Tiger, resulting in the breakdown of many traditional structures and systems.
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