‘A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy in India’ by Josy Joseph: A Review

A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy in IndiaA Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy in India by Josy Joseph

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘A Feast of Vultures’ is a collection of articles and some additional material by noted investigative journalist and national security editor of The Hindu, Josy Joseph. In three parts, Joseph describes the grime that lubricates India’s business and governance.

In the first part, he deals with the middle man, the guy who thrives in the space that the average joe feels too intimidated to traverse as the state is too big and nasty. The middleman gets the job done and greases his pockets in the process as well. Indian history hasn’t seen many ‘famous’ middlemen, as they lurk in the shadows. Occasionally, when one of them breaks kayfabe to write a book like the infamous M.O. Mathai, private secretary to Jawaharlal Nehru, they are taken care of by their political masters.

Part 2 deals with the cutthroat aviation industry particularly the dramatic rise and fall of Thakiyuddin Abdul Wahid’s East West Airlines as well as his eventually successful competitor, Jet Airways’ Naresh Goyal and their murky dealings with the underworld. Part 3 consists of Ambanis, Adanis, Mallya, Jindal and other popular names in India’s business space who have captured politics and governance of the country. It is telling how tax havens and the state machinery have amped up corruption since the 1990s when India’s economy was opened up.

The radical revelations over several decades show that the game remains the same, only the players change. With the recent digital talk, we are getting to see the capture of digital resources in a similar fashion to how the rest of the country’s resources have become oligopolistic. The only hope throughout are groups of people who have decided that they will not let this feast of vultures continue. Fantastic read by Josy Joseph on how a select few have captured India’s business and politics and are maneuvering the country’s resources for private greed.

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