the divide between the rich and poor is accelerating, and is causing envy, frustration and violence
Please find below extracts from Aravind Adiga's letter to the principal of St Aloysius College, Mangalore, where he did his high school and college. He explains why he has this perspective in his writings.
Dear Father Serrao,
Thank you very much for your very generous letter, which I was very happy to receive. The thanks have to be given on my part, to my Alma Mater, for the years of instruction I received there, not only in English and mathematics, but also in matters of social responsibility. While many teachers guided me there, included Mr Leo Fernandes, now retired, the late Father Victor D'Souza, S.J., always stood out in my memory, as he insisted that we were privileged people in a country where crores still struggled to eat a square meal. One of the things he asked us to do was to spend just one afternoon without eating lunch, to know what hunger was; for me, it was the first experience of hunger, which is still, tragically, a common facet of life in our country.
When I came to the north of India, and went through Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, I understood for the first time what Father Victor was talking about; as we do not see poverty and hardship or violence on that scale in Mangalore.
Literature is a difficult topic to discuss, but I am eager to explain a few things to you. Firstly, my book is meant for an adult audience--the middle-class readers of this country. Across India, two things are happening: the divide between the rich and poor is accelerating, and is causing envy, frustration and violence. The second thing is that we are seeing criminality of a kind not seen before in India--for instance, terrorism and the communal attacks in places like Orissa. But why just the north of India? Who would have imagined, some years ago, that Mangalore too would see such things? We are becoming a more prosperous country, yes, but also a more violent one, and a more soulless one. Literature and cinema should confront these issues, and not provide an escape from them, as they do in our country. People should take a look at what is happening, so that they can act to stop these trends now, while it is still possible. If not, the consequences, especially in north India, could be ominous. I chose to write in a way that would startle and upset some people and get them debating about the issues I was raising in my book. There are disturbing, inhuman things happening around us, and the middle-class, who can do something, should be made aware of them--so that they will act now. Here in Mumbai, where I now live, poor immigrants from Bihar are beaten up and threatened by mobs inspired by Mr Raj Thackeray; it is shocking that such things are happening openly.
By nature I am somewhat reclusively, and I would prefer not to attend any public events. I also feel I am hardly worthy, at the age of 34, to attend such events; there are many older more capable Aloysians.
With much gratitude,
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