Behind the Beautiful Forevers

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Subhash Sawant Character Analysis

The Corporator (political representative) of the Shiv Sena party in Annawadi’s ward. He pretends to be low-caste so that he can run in elections meant to help low-caste people earn a voice in government. The actual low-caste people of Annawadi know that Subhash lies, but they support him anyway because Subhash spends a small portion of government funds on real improvements in Annawadi. Subhash is an example of the ways that government programs meant to end discrimination against low-caste people rarely actually help those in need.

Subhash Sawant Quotes in Behind the Beautiful Forevers

The Behind the Beautiful Forevers quotes below are all either spoken by Subhash Sawant or refer to Subhash Sawant. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Random House edition of Behind the Beautiful Forevers published in 2014.
Chapter 4 Quotes

They understood Subhash Sawant to be corrupt. They assumed he'd faked his caste certificate. "But he alone comes here, shows his face," Annawadians said. Before each election, he'd used city money or tapped the largesse of a prominent American Christian charity, World Vision, to give Annawadi an amenity: a public toilet; a flag- pole; gutters; a concrete platform by the sewage lake, where he usually stood when he came.

Related Characters: Subhash Sawant
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

The citizens of Annawadi are not naively unaware of how their Corporator lies to them to secure his own power, but they have chosen to go along with Subhash’s story of a low-caste birth in order to try and gain more amenities for themselves. Instead of being offending that Subhash is taking a political position that is meant for someone who has lived through the legacy of oppression tied to being low-caste in India, the Annawadians see Subhash’s corruption as the natural way of the political world. They choose not to fight a system so steeped in lies and bribes, but rather find a way to make that system work for them as well.

By accepting the corruption of Subhash, they gain a Corporator who is willing to give small boons to a slum. Subhash’s small crimes are far better than risking the election of a politician who came by his seat honestly, but doesn’t have the time or inclination to help slum residents. While the Corporator certainly uses Annawadi as a source of votes, the Annawadians use him in return – tapping into the corruption of Indian politics to make things unfair in their favor.

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Subhash Sawant Character Timeline in Behind the Beautiful Forevers

The timeline below shows where the character Subhash Sawant appears in Behind the Beautiful Forevers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: Asha
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
...capital) to Annawadi. Yet now, northern immigrants outnumber the Maharashtrians, and the Shiv Sena Corporator, Subhash Sawant, is angry enough with Robert’s apathy about this that he is looking for a... (full context)
Chapter 4: Manju
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
...or dengue fever again. Her mother, Asha, is also looking stressed these days, as Corporator Subhash Sawant has been accused of electoral fraud for impersonating a low-caste person to win the... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
...leave their children, who are supposed to be studying for school exams, for the night. Subhash himself appears at sundown and approves of the food and decorations that Asha has planned... (full context)
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
...they could be using to clean or wait in line for water. At 11 pm, Subhash still hasn’t arrived. Asha tells Manju to give the people the food they had prepared.... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
...the eve of his college graduation exams. But Asha is overjoyed at the noise when Subhash finally calls to say he won’t be coming and he thinks that the din is... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
...She specifically cultivates gentle behavior, hoping to distance herself from her mother. The afternoon after Subhash’s failed rally, she complains to Rahul about all the work she has to do, but... (full context)
Chapter 12: Nine Nights of Dance
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
...skips ahead to late September 2008. Asha has become slumlord of Annawadi, promoted by Corporator Subhash Sawant for helping delay the trial for his faked caste documents. However, this success has... (full context)
Chapter 16: Black and White
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
...the policemen she sleeps with finds a new mistress, and even her connection to Corporator Subhash Sawant goes sour once Subhash is dismissed from his post when a judge finds him... (full context)