Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Asha Waghekar Character Analysis

A hard-working, driven, and very clever woman in Annawadi, Asha aspires to be the first woman slumlord for the Shiv Sena party. Asha dedicates all her time to making money through bribes from the other residents of Annawadi and taking advantage of government anti-poverty programs. Asha does not have moral scruples, believing that she would be foolish not to take part in the corrupt systems that might allow her to get ahead in the New India. Asha’s husband, Mahadeo, allows Asha to run all household affairs, and Asha’s two children, Rahul and Manju, respect Asha’s spirit but do not approve of her crooked dealings with policemen and politicians. Boo uses Asha’s success to suggest that a certain amount of ethical flexibility is necessary to make it in the current conditions of India’s government and economy.

Asha Waghekar Quotes in Behind the Beautiful Forevers

The Behind the Beautiful Forevers quotes below are all either spoken by Asha Waghekar or refer to Asha Waghekar. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Behind the Beautiful Forevers published in 2014.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Everyone, everywhere, complained about their neighbors. But in the twenty-first-century city, fewer people joined up to take their disputes to the streets. As group identities based on caste, ethnicity, and religion gradually attenuated, anger and hope were being privatized, like so much else in Mumbai. This development increased the demand for canny mediators-human shock absorbers for the colliding, narrowly construed interests of one of the world's largest cities.

Related Characters: Asha Waghekar
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

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In the West, and among some in the Indian elite, this word, corruption, had purely negative connotations; it was seen as blocking India's modern, global ambitions. But for the poor of a country where corruption thieved a great deal of opportunity, corruption was one of the genuine opportunities that remained.

Related Characters: Asha Waghekar
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

As every slumdweller knew, there were three main ways out of poverty: finding an entrepreneurial niche, as the Husains had found in garbage; politics and corruption, in which Asha placed her hopes; and education.

Related Characters: Asha Waghekar, Manju Waghekar
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

Asha had always prized her competitiveness, a quality that she'd failed to pass on to her children. Perhaps because they lacked it, she had valued it more in herself. But over time, the compulsion to win could become self-deceiving. Instead of admitting that she was making little progress, she had invented new definitions of success. She had felt herself moving ahead, just a little, every time other people failed.

Related Characters: Asha Waghekar
Page Number: 223
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Asha Waghekar Character Timeline in Behind the Beautiful Forevers

The timeline below shows where the character Asha Waghekar appears in Behind the Beautiful Forevers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Annawadi
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Rahul gets his entrepreneur’s spirit from his mother, Asha. Asha works for the political party Shiv Sena, a Hindu party that works to purge... (full context)
Chapter 2: Asha
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Asha Waghekar, Rahul’s mother, is very happy this winter because the current slumlord of Annawadi (the... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
...angry enough with Robert’s apathy about this that he is looking for a new slumlord. Asha has been working hard for years attracting women to the Shiv Sena cause and her... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Asha is used to fending off unwanted male attention, having honed a sharp tongue in her... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
By day, Asha teaches kindergarten. When she arrives home on this day in January, she sees the usual... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
The next visitor for Asha is Mr. Raja Kamble, an old friend of Asha’s who is now very ill due... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
...sighs. She knows that her mother’s advice to go to the temple really means that Asha won’t help unless she is given more money. Asha knows her daughter disapproves of her... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Asha looks down on others in the slum, such as the Husain family, who work in... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
After the supplicants leave, Asha turns on the TV – a huge luxury in Annawadi. The news tells of a... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
The Local vs. The Global Theme Icon
Manju finishes cooking and Rahul comes home from chatting in the street. Asha scolds Rahul for wearing his pants low in the American style, then laughs at the... (full context)
Chapter 4: Manju
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
...it on the weather, hoping she hasn’t caught malaria or dengue fever again. Her mother, Asha, is also looking stressed these days, as Corporator Subhash Sawant has been accused of electoral... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Asha painstakingly cajoles the Annawadian parents to come to the meeting and leave their children, who... (full context)
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
...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. Most Annawadians eat and... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
While Asha stews about the lack of a crowd, a young eunuch named Suraj arrives outside the... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
...is also disturbed by this ruckus on 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... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Years ago, Asha got a government grant to open a school in Annawadi and she uses this endeavor... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Hole She Called a Window
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Asha, at the police station helping police offers fix a government loan, sees Zehrunisa and jumps... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
The crowd argues about who should take Fatima to the hospital, eventually settling on Asha. Asha offers to pay for an auto rickshaw, but refuses to go herself. Secretly, Asha... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Come-Apart
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
...equipment, and relishes the stream of visitors from Annawadi. The most important of these is Asha, who tells Fatima that it would be dangerous to lie about how she was burned... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
...for a lawyer if Fatima dies. Zehrunisa appears periodically to give updates on how much Asha is asking to make this whole thing go away. After helping Zehrunisa talk to the... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
...much besides the periodic beatings. Eventually, he overhears a phone conversation between Officer Thokale and Asha which has the miraculous result of making the beatings stop. Abdul wonders why Asha would... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Master
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
...in her grief. She second guesses everything she did, wondering if she should have paid Asha in the first place now that the Husains are facing a very expensive trial. (full context)
Chapter 9: Marquee Effect
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
In July, Asha, Mahadeo, Rahul, and Manju visit the small village where they lived before moving to Mumbai.... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
...this farming community can do but pray that rain comes soon to save the rest. Asha is surprised that the village looks better than it did when she was a child,... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
...attention to Manju. She is an exciting prospect to almost all the village families, but Asha has high expectations for Manju’s husband. The next day at the wedding, Asha focuses on... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
The Waghekar family returns to Annawadi, where Asha ignores Zehrunisa’s pleas for legal help and focuses on her own education. To truly transcend... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
...mindset, Manju cautiously brings up the subject of marrying a man of her own choosing. Asha still doesn’t want to get that modern, and wants to find a suitable husband for... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Asha begins to think that Manju is spending too much time on her slum school project.... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
On Asha’s 40th birthday, Manju passes around cake to the family. Asha tries to celebrate, but is... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Asha ignores her daughter’s tears, justifying her extra-marital liaisons as necessary for the money and power... (full context)
Chapter 12: Nine Nights of Dance
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
...not to think about terrible lives. The chapter then skips ahead to late September 2008. Asha has become slumlord of Annawadi, promoted by Corporator Subhash Sawant for helping delay the trial... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
...flirtatious Navrati festival where female divinity is celebrated and girls are allowed to dance freely. Asha pours her energy into planning this year’s festival, knowing how much it means to the... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
...outside, afraid to alert anyone else for fear of ruining Meena’s reputation. Desperate, Manju calls Asha from a pay phone and tells her what Meena has done. Asha tells Manju to... (full context)
Chapter 16: Black and White
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
Asha continues to try to rise above Annawadi, but none of her new schemes work in... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Manju is saddened to see her mother depressed, and she tries to cheer Asha, but Asha can’t let go of her long list of disappointments and she broods over... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
All of Annawadi starts to actively hate Asha when Asha tries to make a profit from the widespread fear that Annawadi will soon... (full context)
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Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Asha helps Annawadians sell their homes here to middle class Indians who think these houses will... (full context)
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Asha becomes more cautious in her economic schemes, but she still gets involved in a government... (full context)
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Asha tells Manju not to worry about getting a job after her studies anymore, now that... (full context)
Society, Competition, and Social Division Theme Icon
Opportunity, Corruption, and Inequality Theme Icon
Permanence, Legacy, and Erasure Theme Icon
...prove that they are a legitimate part of a state that despises them go to Asha for help. Asha ignores them, having decided that being slumlord is far too much work... (full context)