The Voice of God by Khushwant Singh
In The Voice of God by Khushwant Singh we have the theme of social order, corruption, connection, control and change. Taken from his Collected Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Singh may be exploring the theme of social order. Those in Bhamba appear to be classified by their religion with Sikh peasants being at the top of the social order followed by Moslems and Christians. This may be important as later on in the story the reader realises just how powerful the Sikhs actually are when it comes to the matter of the election. Ganda Singh through bribery is able to ensure that he wins the election though he appears to be a man who is more interested in serving himself than his constituents. Which may be the point that Singh is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that politically at the time the story was written. Indian politics was corrupt with those in power being self-serving. Ganda Singh does after all ply his followers with alcohol to ensure that they vote for him. While the more honest Ram Singh whose political ideology may be more suited to those in the village comes last in the election.
This may be important as Singh could be highlighting how easily swayed an individual can be by a politician and his promises. When the reality is the politician may have his own interests at heart rather than their constituents. This is something that would not just occur in India but in many countries around the world. Leaving many to believe that politics in itself is corrupt. It is also interesting that the most humble of all the candidates is Ram Singh yet he receives the lowest amounts of votes. It is as though those who are voting do not wish to hear Ram Singh’s message as it is as unimpressive as his appearance or arrival in Bhamba. There is also a sense that the people in the village are also self-serving caring more for themselves than for the village as a collective. There is no sense of connection among the villages nor does it seem as though they have a common cause. They are voting on individual issues like helping a relative avoid jail rather than what is in the best interests of the village. At no stage in the story does the reader sense that the social order that exists in the village is going to change. It simply can’t when an individual is thinking only of themselves.
The fact that Ram Singh has also spent most of his life in prison for his political beliefs maybe also be significant as it suggests that those in authority know that he is a threat to the status quo and as such needs to be kept away from others. Yet his policies are most likely the fairest of all. Though at the time would have been seen as radical. Britain had control over India at the time and would do all in its power to ensure that it remained in control. Ram Singh would have been seen as an obstacle to this control. The fact that the village doesn’t really think or act in unity also stifles any opportunity that Ram Singh may have in getting elected. It is as though the village is voting for the village and not for the greater good of India. Something which would have been widespread throughout India at the time. Local issues would have taken precedence over national issues and as a result of this and the corruption that exists. Ganda Singh is duly elected.
What is also interesting about the story is the fact that the social order within the village is mirrored in how those in the village vote. Though all three candidates are Sikhs they represent different things to the villagers. However there is a sense that the villagers are blinded by appearances especially when it comes to Ganda Singh who in many ways is just an extension of British rule and by voting for Ganda Singh the villagers are accepting the continuation of British rule. The only candidate who wishes to lead India to independence is Ram Singh but unfortunately this is not something that those in the village are ready for just yet. Life for those in the village is easier with the status quo being maintained. Though the Sikh landowners are considered to be peasants the important thing is that they are landowners. They are at the top of the social order that exists in the village. It would be unusual for theme to see or want any change to occur. They are happy to live their life as they do and to elect a corrupt politician who will ensure that things will not change.