Mr. Wollaston's first novel to appear in this country (he is also a travel writer) is somewhere between a documentary and an indictment as seen through the querulous, questioning eyes of David Knapp who has some unaccounted-for areas in his own life. He goes over there for a Famine Fund to distribute powdered milk to a country which has its own pulverized mosques and palaces, dried mud and dung. Sweltering in the heat and hopelessness, ""Indians don't think. . . it makes life too impossible,"" but on the other hand they believe in sacred cows and sacrificial goats and the Pharaoh's chicken, a useful and efficient scavenger who feeds on the endless filth. The story here, subservient to the physical and political photomontage, consists of David's briefly ignited idealism (stoked by his wife back home who is amorously busy with a co-worker) which quickly dissolves in a country where anachronistic Indians and archaic Englishmen and bloody commercial-minded Australians all contribute to the dense stasis. And since ""death is irrelevant in India,"" no one picks up the chits. Wollaston's novel is a combination of brilliant observation, epigrammatic reduction, and open-ended accusation--all under a sari of opulently visual effects.