Saleem's descriptions of the Midnight Conference mirror the current state of India and allow the reader to gain insight on Saleem's character. He originally desires for the Conference to benefit the rest of India; he believes the midnight children can make a difference. However, through his adult perspective, Saleem views his childish hopes as part of the "disease of optimism." Rather than helping India in creation, he ominously refers to their destruction.
Saleem wants the Conference to be "a sort of loose federation of equals, all points of view given free expression" (252). As a foil to Saleem, Shiva discounts Saleem's views. When Saleem claims that the Midnight Children must have a purpose, Shiva declares, "What purpose man? What thing in the whole sister-sleeping world got reason, yara? For what reason you're rich and I'm poor? Where's the reason in starving?" (252). Shiva's points resonate with me because I think about these questions often. How can there be reason and fairness in the world when people are starving? Rushdie raises the questions that many people in India during this time were probably asking themselves through Shiva.
I think it is interesting that Rushdie depicts interactions between Saleem and Shiva. By portraying Shiva as a realistic but violent poor person and Saleem as an idealistic but passive rich person, Rushdie displays how these viewpoints and personalities conflict in India. I think their interactions deeply influence the other children as well, although Rushdie does not write as much about this.
What do you all think about the Midnight Children's Conference and the relationship between Shiva and Saleem?