A Fine Balance: A Glimpse of the Indian Emergency (Book Review)

Updated on April 20, 2018

Rohinton Mistry

Source

Rohinton Mistry, in his book A Fine Balance, brings together three fine narratives—one of a young student from a middle class background, a Parsi woman who did not want to interact too much with the outside world, and two tailors who have moved to the city of Bombay to start new lives.

As you read, you will see three stories unfolding and eventually meeting at the point when the President declares national emergency. Mistry uses the national emergency to weave the three narratives into one grand plot.

Unity Amidst Emergency

Though Mistry brought about the concept of unity of people of diverse backgrounds, he also strategically shows how unity was shattered by power, community, class, money, and caste. As pages go by, four simple and exciting lives are slowly trampled upon by politics, war, pride, and poverty.

A Fine Balance captures communities coming together to survive together. The people forgot about caste, class, and community and lived under one roof for the sake of survival, but the government did not accept such a thing. They made a clear distinction between the higher and the lower, the forward and the backward, segregated them, and defined their destiny.

The Characters That Come Together

  1. Dina is that strong independent woman who lives on her own and seems quite independent. Dina was raised in a family that had enough money. But with her father’s death and eventually her husband’s death, her standard of living kept dropping. Yet, she survived the trials and started living on her own.
  2. From a caste-structured society came two tailors to Mumbai with a hope that their lives will be restored. Ishvar and Omprakash are two characters in the novel that represent the majority of the population in the country. They have been exploited by the inhumane caste system of India and are now eagerly trying to make a living in a new city. It is in Dina’s house that they find a job. Here they pursue a journey without knowing that the emergency lies ahead.
  3. Maneck Kohlah is the young boy who moved to Bombay to pursue his education. He moves from a calm and quiet hill station to the buzzing city of Mumbai. This new lifestyle that he forced to carry begins to influence with Maneck’s personality. At many places in the book, Maneck sinks into a state of confusion and despair.During the emergency, the students of the colleges are forced to move and so Maneck moves to Dina’s places and meets the tailors and Dina. Thus begins a new story.

The Hindu

Source

The Last Few Pages

The manner in which Mistry unfolds the story is quite interesting. You will see how the characters are pushed out of their comfort zones. Dina continues in her lonely yet independent space. Ishvar and Om face the worst situations since the emergency affected the poorest in the country. Maneck moved out of India and found himself a job. It is only when he returns to India that he actually understands how the emergency affected his dearest friends.

The ending of the story is sure to break your heart. However, it helps you wrap your head around how intense the emergency was to every person in the large Indian society.

But the book if you would like to know more about the Indian Emergency

A Fine Balance

Source

I would openly declare that of all the books I have ever read of India, the image of India during the emergency season could not have been described in a better way than it is in this book. The writer’s perspectives in this book are so full of life that it transported me to that time when many people were being persecuted for being poor. I could see the poorest of slums and also hear the whistle of the train that ran over the guilt in Maneck Kohlah.

A True Book of Fiction

Politics always look at the larger picture or the larger good of the nation, but little details and the downfall of individuals can only be recorded by a book of fiction—A Fine Balance.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is used to quickly and efficiently deliver files such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisements has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)