Balram drives for the American-educated one in the family, a sort of softie married to an American woman who is not a Hindu. They move to Delhi, the better for his boss to deliver the bribes that are demanded by those who want to collect taxes from the family. Balram understands what is going on and that he is meant to remain poor the rest of his life and to be totally subserviant to his master, live in a cockroach infested little room and come running when called, keep the car spotless and take the rap when the master's drunken wife kills a beggar child while driving wildly one night.
Balram's insight is stated: “See, the poor dream all their lives of getting enough to eat and looking like the rich. And what do the rich dream of? Losing weight and looking like the poor.”
Balram finally kills his master, and knows that he can escape with a suitcase of money meant to pay off bribes, because millions of poor men like himself look exactly alike to the authorities. He uses the money to become an "entrepreneur". While the story is unrelenting, the prose is fluid and easy to read, never preaching, never whining. Fiction, of course, but with such a grasp of the truth of the underclasses one can only think of the billion people in India, what degradation still exists. And that we know bribery is pervasive almost everywhere. (What else are the campaign donations by America's big corporations?)