A fest of Vultures a book by Josey Joseph

“The state-controlled company that provided the telephone is struggling to survive in one of the most profitable and vibrant telecommunication markets in the world.”

Why I picked this book?

I have read the book “The Silent Coup” by Josy Joseph and found it very informative and educative. The book, “A Feast of Vultures” was also on my reading list for quite some time as the subject is of my interest. Great investigative journalism by the author telling us how businesses are done in India. The role of fixers, middlemen, the Sarkari babus, the government, and the industrialists in setting up and running the businesses. To know more about how things work in India, I picked this up for reading.

The Book

“A Feast of Vultures” by investigative Journalist, Josy Joseph is a book that investigates the murky world of how things are done in India. Be it road construction in a village, electricity connection in a village household, or setting up a huge industry. What goes behind the scenes in the big world of industrialists, how deals are clinched in favor of one or the other? The role and power of middlemen who fix the big defense deals and despite being charged with wrongdoings they still are part of the game.

The statement at the top about BSNL is a case in point and makes you think and realize how come it is not doing well despite the growing market for telecommunications. And it is substantiated by what Noam Chomsky has to say about the standard technique of privatization.
The chapter “Battles for the Skies” deals in detail with the private airline industry, it will shock and surprise you how Naresh Goel of Jet Airways established his business. Similarly, a deep dive into the world of arms dealers and middlemen. The story of the Choudhrie brothers will give you a glimpse of the corrupt world of arms procurement.

“A foreign executive, who headed a fighter-manufacturing firm in India, said this of his time here: “I have worked around the world, but there is no market more complex and corrupt than India.” He was leaving the country for good, after unsuccessfully trying to win a major contract in the decade that he spent the country.”
Excerpt from the book

A section in the book “The Big League” is about the men and women who virtually run the country indirectly. The policies are made to suit their business requirements, and the ministers in the government are associated with these businessmen/women in one way or the other. The resources of the country are served to them on a plate keeping the rules and laws at stake. Be it the allocation of coal blocks, mining contracts, power projects, or national highways, taking for granted the environmental and pollution norms. Most of the business is done through bank loans on which many industrialists default and some even run away from the country.

“India’s mounting bank loan defaults is in itself a revolting and instructive manual about the elite. The second biggest bank loan defaulter after Kingfisher today is Winsome Diamond Group, which has failed to pay back a loan of over Rs 6500 crore. And where is its promoter Jatin Mehta now? He is in Singapore. Promoters of Deccan Chronicle newspaper submitted forged balance sheets to various banks to raise hundreds of crores of rupees, which was used to buy a cricket team and fancy cars.”
Excerpt from the book

A Feast of Vultures opens a portal for the common people to have a look at how things work in India. It documents how the country’s resources are plundered by the rich, the big business rivalries, and the corruption at every level of doing business which means profit for the richest of the rich at the cost of many of the citizens of the country.

About the Author
Josy Joseph is an award-winning investigative journalist. His stories have fostered public debate and continue to contribute to significant policy and systemic changes in India. Among the investigative stories he has published are the Adarsh Apartment scam, the Naval War Room Leak case, several aspects of the Commonwealth Games scandal, the 2G spectrum allocation scam, and other corrupt and nepotistic government decisions.

Our Verdict
A Feast of Vultures is a good read for everyone who wants to understand how things work behind the scenes. How so many murky deals are happening behind iron curtains, which none of us are aware of, and how these impact us. It is depressing and frustrating but at the same time an important read to understand the truths about India.

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