Head of the Chinese government since 2003, and as such one of the most powerful people in the world. He visited Bangalore in 2005, keen to build business links between the two 'Asian giants', as in the novel.
Despite free and compulsory education to age 14 in India, literacy rates stand at 60% (lower for women), and only 15% of the population will reach high school. Anti-child labour laws have been strengthened in recent years, yet agencies estimate between 20 and 50 million Indian children under 14 work, and there are an estimated 1.1 million street children in India. Regardless of legislation, poverty continues to mean that education is not an option for many.
While hand-pulled rickshaws are only seen now in Kolkata (Calcutta), cycle-rickshaws are still common.
Mother Ganga, or the river Ganges to most westerners, is worshipped by Hindus as a Goddess. Bathing in the river, it is thought, can help wash away sin and purify, lifting the bather out of the normal cycle of life and death. Millions of pilgrims flock to the Ganges to bathe in its holy waters.