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Radicalism in An Abbreviated Child by Rita Garg


Radicalism in An Abbreviated Child by Rita Garg

       Heena Kauser

 Ph. D. Research scholar

I.N.M.P.G. College,

CCS University, Meerut ( U.P.), India


The utopian vision is the foundation of radicalism. In the plethora of society, furthermore a radical flux or change is intrinsic one whereas a radical pattern or conception is extremely innovative. The paper throws a glance on various radical perspectives and critical propositions and then applies those to An Abbreviated Child by Rita Garg. The focal point of radical prospect directed by novelist to the economic base, class conflict, capitalism, poverty, inequality, exploitation and oppression of segments of society. The novel demonstrates enormous changes in the panorama of women and fabricate a new version of motherhood through surrogacy. The outcome of the emergent technologies is to deconstruct the biological processes of motherhood and nullify the claim to reproduction that is the rudiment of femininity. Feebleness of people has is so compelled to inaugurate consumerism of human organs and presents different parameters of slavery. additionally here 'cultural sift' radical theory notion is based mainly  perception of contemporary society and to transforming it lie in the ways that culture Orients our behavior and shapes what we are able to know about the world and to interrogate concepts, methodologies and epistemologies used to grasp radical change. The utopian impulse of novelist in this novel which is drawn towards absolute notion of equilibrium and justice that immune to justify about the interest they serve, and which demands their splendid implementation in society.


Radicalism, Capitalism, Radical Feminism, Consumer Behavior, Crime, Surrogacy, Genderex.

Epistemology says alteration is the rule of nature. It bridges the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the retrogression and the progressions. Radicalism is the emergence of Neo-Marxian perspective debates opened up by communitarians, liberals, public choice theorists on key issues such as individual’s rights, community, individual verses collective responsibilities and the nature of justice. Broadly speaking is the reaction of financial crises. Andrew Sayer opines,

Radical political economy continues to remain fascinated by the figures of total social transformation, as reflected in the frequent appearance of the twin notions of constructivism and collectivism. (34) 

He rightly observed respectively the ideas that we can comprehensively construct society through the exercise of human will and that human beings are fundamentally altruistic and desirous of collective solidarity rather than the pursuit of individual interest. (35)

The main objective of radical theory in this novel is to infiltrate this veneer of society and its grandiose self-proclamations, to clasp with its fundamental reality and to pinpoint how society actually works things are not always what they appear to be and the demystification of society and its functioning becomes a pivotal locus of this perspective.

'The world of needs is to increase fathomless out of some container' (96) writes the novelist.

 This world of needs filled with restrictions:' Rules and rules prevailing but with the inherent fangs and thorns, teasing to the core as the redundant part of a very long novel to be completed meticulously.' (96) The surplus of needs leads to either the overflow of activity or to the excess of inertia.

The nature of activity is not necessarily propitious. One improper action subjugates the life of many; the proper conditions of many; or, even the social environment. Somehow the need-filled society has to look the satiation of all-- either collectively or individually. This novel projects the needs of all from the rich to the poor; from the king to the servant; and, from the father to the child. The scene is not limited to Contemporary society but the mythical and historical times as well. Interestingly enough, so much of change has the world undergone but the need and satisfaction balance remains away and invisible. Not only ordinary changes but the radical ones also appear, act and disappear. As the society changes, the needs also convert into compulsion

 With globalization, multiculturalism touches zenith and consequently utter confusion spreads all around.

Dr. Nirmala Gupta applauds "Author lends a poignant dignity as the characters fight off a series of put-downs and successfully confront the imperfections of the society. Overall, a story written on a unique and yet such a realistic topic carried by commanding style of writing and layered to cavernous depth."

The novel gives the full picture of social reconstruction. The changing phenomenon is outburst in the forms of conflict in every sphere. No factor is untouched by this. Theories of conflict assume that society is made up of a diametrically fractions whose relations are based on the patriarchal system. Albeit, women was no longer on the secondary stage. The excess of women oppression evolved in the shape of revolution known as radical feminism. The implication of women characters in the novel is praiseworthy they are not only extremely adverse circumstances as well as of society. Critics such as Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon who have been referred to themselves as 'radical feminist' have been outspoken on this theme and have challenged both the conservative and liberal perspective of society.

Many other earlier Radical feminists critics believed that reproduction was at the root cause of women's oppression and that we would be emancipated if we could free ourselves from "the tyranny of reproduction" (Mandel, p.33). At that point in time, "Technology was viewed as liberating women" (Mandel, p.33). She further says things have changed since those days, and today the more popular consensus is that technology is not the liberation Radical feminists thought it would be. Instead of liberating women, our bodies are simply fully controlled by men. (Mandal, p.33)Undeniably the envisage of Logo centrism will remain in society. Here the readers find themselves in conundrum and wonder; is it really favorable for women or else new ways of sovereignty with changing times.

  Another radical critic Tong, comments on the patriarchal society that blocks all progress and ability of women to be fully human beings. They crave for a world of them without restriction and long for androgyny and hence embrace reproductive technologies as they can help women escape from the chains of motherhood and childbirth. "As we shall see, radical-libertarian feminists are convinced the less women are involved in the reproductive process, the more time and energy they will have to engage in society¹s productive processes." (Tong, p.71)

The implications of radical feminist approaches on this novel is commendable. No doubt the novelist splendidly manifests multifocal persona of women; here women is mother of her children, nurse of other offspring, savior of values and philanthropist of society and as well future vision also.

Mother is known for the strongest feelings of cordiality and emotional bindings. Here the novelist discusses the role of surrogate mother and natural mother. Also written about is wet nurse and foster mother. Reference is also made to Sita, a nature born child. Panna Dhaya the wet nurse in the history of Rajasthan is an exemplary figure. She is a radical who saves the Prince of the State and sacrifices her own beloved son. Her fight against the usurper proves that society has persons glowing with extraordinary virtues. Surrogacy is a medical measure to bring joy in a childless family. To the surmise of the readers, certain questions are raised against this also. The novelist says that genetically a child carries a two-fold load of diseases. With surrogacy this load shall be three-fold. Initially medical science had denied this but now that corner is working on this controversy.

Also the surrogate mother is not an educated woman with enough of mental and physical nourishment. She cannot give anything to enlighten like the mother of Abhimanyu who learnt the martial art as an embryo only. Thus the womb of a surrogate mother is the ' never never nest.'(8)

Above all in this over populated world it is not required that too a surrogate child with all sorts of malnourishment. It’s better to take care of someone's childlike Chandrima who makes self-renowned. Sita, born of mother earth, is one of the most docile woman. Sharp and scientific changes occur but not for the good changes all the while.

The practical and practicable aspects are seen contradictory occasionally. Gauri,'s mother is helpless when her son sells Gauri. Fundamentally radical feminism emerges on the discourse of conflict Theory and it celebrates what has earlier been put down, and helps women to empower and celebrate themselves. Indeed Gauri's pain is unbearable; nevertheless she proclaimed "When pain convert into agony and suffering follows, I became one with myself… Only with myself." (71)

Undoubtedly continuity, conformity, Change, choice and conflict subsist to some degree in all historical spans. “Radical criminology suggests that crime must be explained in the context of the capitalist mode of production rather than as a breach of the identifiable moral consensus on which positivism is implicitly based” (Taylor et al. 279).

Furthermore the theory asserts that crime is the consequence of structural discrimination that are inherently associated with capitalist economic system. Capitalism economy entirely centers on power and exploitation and labour forces responsible for survival. Neary and Taylor rightly observe: under capitalism, crime is a ‘condition of no money or a refusal to accept the law of money or the legal form of money’. (p. 83)

No doubt is increasing tendency towards punitive correctionalism in criminal justice policy; Instead of centralizing on why individuals broke the law, they tended to focus on why certain acts were defined as unauthorized and how the criminal justice system functioned to sustain imbalance in society. Class struggle produces crime, poverty, income inequality, organ trafficking, child kidnapping and other serious problems.

The world is suffering from over populations. The novelist also says that the measures taken by the government of India prove insufficient. There are two reasons for this. Inactive men 'breeding like mosquitoes' and the drunkards perennially in need of money. Radha's father sells her and her mother because he is in dire need of money to buy liquor. Kalia seeks Gauri his sister, to fulfill his need of liquor consumption.

In India, particularly in hills woman labourers make the child lick opium and serve on the sites. The child would be fast asleep and hazard free. The future becomes bleak because opium is habit forming and enough to make man lazy. Kalia and the husband of Gauri are two examples of this. This sin and crime filled scene is not constrained to domestic walls. Society, roads and haats are witnesses too. There are child kidnappings described: “My lal my babe my munna”. (34)

After the kidnapping the suffering of the mother does not end here. Rather she must live. Suppose her babe is back there should be the mother to feed the child. Keshava's sister is well-decked and made to wait for a buyer in a rickshaw. She is not given to eat for hour’s altogether. Keshav is helplessly watching all this. He is not able to understand the inquisitiveness of the surroundings and And finds himself around —'a habitat of criminals.’ (28)

Radha was sold in the heat of June but in full make up and intoxicated. The consequences of a child being sold at a young age is that there might occur 'Oedipus complex or 'Electra complex'

Thus an extreme ironic situation is suggested by the novelist.

 Poverty is that witch which leaves no shames: ‘The hut is too small'. Many people live in a small hut and the result is that moral values diminish In those wall-less and value-less surroundings. It's not strange when a young boy claims frankly that 'he raped a girl at the age of thirteen.' (78) Also that he is not the only to do so. Their world is like that. Animals are sold and girls are sold. He brings ram and ewe close for the purpose of reproduction and people watch and enjoy as they do the sale of a girl. The implication is that morality is out of their imagination.

Radical researchers extremely critiques of capitalism and identify it is the root cause of deviance. These prospective and the Research which was undertaken mainly focused on the structural determinants of inequality and poverty is the reason to create crime and deviance in society. Their impetus is not only to study deviance in society but to change society to become more equitable and fair.

Marx asserts, "the state supports the powerful against the weak, the rich against the poor, and the rulers against the ruled."

Marx believed that throughout history, human societies have comprises of two classes: those who have the power to create the rules under which everyone must live, and another who have neither resources nor power to say anything against it.Extremism has roots in exploitation of the self, society or both. Radha, after three times being sold, reaches the orphanage run by Mrs Preet Rani who is sincere to her work. There a Minister Ji often visits to make his image by showing concern for the welfare of the miserable beings.

For image making, he proposes Radha who is a postgraduate and attractive person. For no doubts Radha is betrothed and reaches the house of this national figure. The nuptial bonds don't add to her life because he indulges in ant nation activities and child labour is also exploited for various purposes. After a disturbed life, she along with the child labour reaches back to the pavilion. There after the death of Mrs. Preet Rani she managed the orphanage. Chandrima the other orphanage be self-reliant as well as  accomplice to others. She further denies martial bond for her career and remains sojourner as her situation exigency. Her soul rested on the betterment of others. From an orphaned girl going to abroad for higher education reflects her passion to advance the collective consciousness of society. No doubt when she was conversing with Bon she seems indeed sorted and miraculous and fabricate a whim of hers: ‘Deewangi'. (99)

Here the novelist in tempted to used the word deewangi, it has a ultimate to reach the pinnacle. She gives the mythical comparison between Lakshman's wife Urmila and Sita and enunciates that Urmila suffer too than Sita due to lack of deewangi. Chandrima  Roderigo Chotu and others grow and plan for the welfare of others.

A French critic Marilyn in her comparative analysis of patriarchy and feminism rightly saying: The only true revolution against patriarchy is the one that removes the Idea of power from the central position, and instead raises the Idea of pleasure and emphasizes "for happiness to replace the power”. Thoroughly the changing Radical phenomenon in the novel demands inner gratification rather than coercion affiliation.

Consumer behavior is another characteristic of radicalism that is appropriately applicable in this novel. It is a dynamic process. It has been established on the notion that consumedly is the outcome of the needs and wants of the consumer they trades to assuage these longing and requirements. A critic Walters assures Consumer behavior therefore "refers to the total process by which individuals interact with their environment”. But it doesn't mean that all human behavior is consumption oriented. Cleaver also explicate that work is being replaced by consumerism as the main feature, integrating people's lives and asserting further ample of people's lives subordinated by drudgery and that consumerism is constrain to the reproduction of people's lives as labour Power, rather than schematic ethos of functioning outlet.

 The commodification of human beings dominates this literary tableaux. Radha, Gauri, Keshava's sister and others are sold for various uses. Out of this, human organs support the growth of medical Tourism in India. India also boasts of handicraft market:

Kalia, as a brother, sells Gauri to a poor lazy man who would pay Rs.20000 for a woman because she would face the mixing of 'genderex'( 45). This is a term coined by the novelist to shows in power structure the differences of gender is not biologically but social constructed. Meaning thereby that the role of women in nullified and the relevance of gender and sex comes forth. She would work like an ox in ploughing the field and with an ' incapacitated" husband work all the while in extreme poverty. Gauri relates this to her sister-in-law:

“I know the taste of hunger.”

“I know the labour of an OX.

Without the loss of virginity. I know the loss of womanhood!”(70)

The phenomenon generally observed is the vitiating attitude of the people who indulge in dishonorable practice of trading and taking advantage of the  poverty-stricken people through a corrupt method of money making. The situation is such that today there is no country in the world which is free from the criminal tendencies of such unethical problem. India also is facing such a problem and it has assumed serious propositions. Poverty is the biggest reason why poor people are helpless to sell their body organs and not just this to for their survival they are ready to sell their own kids to get rid of their poverty.

Alka Rani rightly observes, “By depicting the necked picture of this horrible half part of any community, Rita is able to strike a chord of fear in the heart of so called conscientious, sensible and religious minded Indians. The subject of child atrocities is also dealt with supreme transparency. It is very strange that Radha, Chhotu, Gauri, etc., are made to suffer and abused mainly by their biological parents, brothers or sisters rather than by a stranger. Even stranger fact is that mostly all this happens just for a little amount of money”. (139)

 The radical change in her condition comes with a government job and later her entry into the orphanage run by Radha.Gauri is misery-stricken and narrates over there how 'blue bodies' of girls are carried by mothers to the graveyard or cemetery. The body turns blue in a condition of poison inducing and oxygen lacking. Even then Gauri's mother calls her ‘The Last Sufferer’. (63)

The reason is that with the government efforts the commodification of women is checked. Sonam the niece of Gauri is educated and employed. To top it she is married without dowry.

Radha as a child was once purchased by a juggler and she had to walk on the road by the wayside. There large crowds would collect and she would feel ashamed of her short dresses

Radha in her concluding speech says: Thus all this is a change of culture and girls are sold in the same animal market or haat as animals are.

penury is the one of the major emanate one should pay attention to because some people take advantage of the condition of poverty-stricken because they know they can do anything for their survival and they are in need so the hunters cash it. Impoverished people have nothing in their court so they are seeing begging on the road being slave someone who is superior than them or you can see they are doing everything for the sake of their appetite. To be brought in exceedingly ameliorates in society and committed to abolishing the imbalance that created crime is the main objective here. The other major factor is education that empowers in many ways and gives protection to many underprivileged.


              Works Cited


Andrew Sayer, Radical Political Economy, op cit.at note 8.


Garg, Rita. An Abbreviated Child: Gloom to Bloom, e-edition (http://www.drritagarg.com/my-literary-work/an-abbreviated-child/), 2018.


Mandell, Nancy, Feminist issues: race, class and sexuality, Prentice-Hall, Scarborough, Ontario, 1995. 


Tong, Rosemarie Putnam, Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction, Westview Press: Boulder, Colorado, 1998.


Taylor, Ian, Walton Paul, and Young Jock, The New Criminology: For a Social Theory of Deviance, London: Routledge,1973.


Neary, Michael. and Taylor, Graham. Money and the Human Condition, London:Macmillan,1998.


French, Marylin. Beyond Power: On Women, Men and Morals. New York: Ballantine. 1985.


Walters, “Organizational Behavior Human Behavior at work”, 9th edition New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill,1974.


Cleaver, Harry.‘Work is still the central issue! New words for new worlds’, in Dinerstein, A. and M. Neary, The Labour Debate: An Investigation into the Theory and Reality of Capitalist Work, Hampshire: Ashgate,2002.pp. 135-148

Agarwal, Alka Rani. “Rita Garg’s An Abbreviated Child : Beginning of an Era of Reformation through Fiction” Satendra Kumar and Archana D. Tyagi (ed.). Jaipur : Yking Books, 2014, Print