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A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy in India
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A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy in India

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,839 ratings  ·  229 reviews
'Every day, millions of people -- the rich, the poor and the many foreign visitors -- are hunting for ways to get their business done in modern India. If they search in the right places and offer the appropriate price, there is always a facilitator who can get the job done. This book is a sneak preview of those searches, the middlemen who do those jobs, and the many opport ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 15th 2016 by HarperCollins India (first published July 10th 2016)
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Arun Divakar
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
There are a few words hardwired into the Indian psyche that only float to the surface at the time of elections. Some that I can think of are - development, secularism, anti-corruption, growth, anti-fundamentalism etc. These words lavishly peppered with other well-worn ones like democracy and freedom are used and abused in speeches and other promotional material during the elections. The amusing thing about these words is that they disappear into thin air once someone wins and comes to power, onl ...more
Soni Somarajan
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
And the poor continue to beg for their inalienable rights
A dazzling piece of non-fiction, A Feast of Vultures lays bare the problems that confound India. India s best-known investigative reporter, Josy Joseph, writes with moral conviction, yet never denigrates to pontification as he piles up evidence of corruption in high places. The truth is conveyed through a searing prose an alarm for the citizens to wake up and take notice. Corruption is everywhe
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This has been a difficult book to read. As a citizen of the country, you cannot be ignorant of the corruption and injustice festering through its length and breadth. However, this books offers the jarring realisation that we have only seen a somewhat sanitised version of it. It fills me with despair, guilt, shame, anger and helplessness. That urban India, which gripes daily about infrastructure woes, is largely ignorant of the many struggles of its rural counterpart is brought home rather effect ...more
Umesh Kesavan
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
A brilliant overview of the multiple actors who run our country from behind the screens. The author will be facing litigations from big corps and they are the best reviews for this book.
Annie Zaidi
This is a brave book, based on some good, old-fashioned journalism. It serves as a reminder of the processes that are eating up our democracy from within - the black money that not only leaves but also returns to the country, via tax havens, in the form of 'investment'; the businessmen who are no longer content with simply lobbying elected representatives and are increasingly buying their way into both houses of Parliament and blatantly sitting on committees and in ministries where the conflict ...more
Harsimran Khural
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
One line summary:

"yeh bik gayi hai gormint!"
Rohit Enghakat
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An explosive book which explores the underbelly of Indian democracy and the loopholes exploited by business houses to conduct and expand their businesses, by hook or by crook. Every democracy has its own black sheep and legacies steeped in corruption. Reading this book validates your suspicion in how the entire business of running industries and conglomerates in India is nothing but the art of dealing with corrupt bureaucrats and politicians and exploiting the poor and the marginalised.

The autho
Ashish Iyer
Nothing new to offer. Dullish read.
I read this book with a lot of expectations. Those who read newspaper or magazine on regular basis already know all these things which are mentioned in this book. Its basically like article is written in elaborate versions. No genuine new research. This book is just like a rant.

Avoid it.
Not recommended.
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I watched an interview of the author talking about the book and he said "I hope that this book makes people of India angry."

Well, it certainly did. I'm more aware about my country now, its hidden businesses and unsung acts of honesty. I need to ponder and take action to ensure a better India now.

As for the book, read it if you are an Indian millennial because there is so much at stake.
Yash Sharma
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
The People Who Are Running India : The Dalal’s (middlemen) Of Hindustan
Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.


A feast of vultures, the hidden business of democracy in India is a stellar piece of investigative journalism. And before I write on this topic I wanna salute to the author of this book for being courageous and honest in his thoughts.

And the USP of this brilliantly written book is that within few hundred
A Man Called Ove
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very courageous book that names and shames India's top industrialists for their illegal and inhuman paths to riches. Also gives a glimpse into how the political machinery works at all levels.
However, the book seems to be written in a haste and it should have been longer and indepth.
Sainath Sunil
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
this book is a troubling reportage of the state of affairs of governance and its the various arms that are meant to keep corruption and malpractice in check. sadly we have seen a cohabitation of both. this book explores the role of middle men who could be anything for ex military to politicians to stenos or personal assistants of ministers and bureaucrats who would the real power. this book also discusses the rapid rise of how corporate India remains a benefactor of which ever party that comes t ...more
The book does not provide any material new information or, surprise if the reader is familiar with publicly available data and books on the topics viz. petrochemical deals; Air India and private players and such. The chapter which has been excerpted and concerns the 'backroom individuals' is an interesting one. In the sense that it manages to not have much while providing a great deal of insight about the manipulations and machinations. And yet again, a book like this needs a companion web-site ...more
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Okayish. Not that good read. Maybe i had expectation from this book. It was just collection of information that we already know. Almost everything is pictured to be black and disorienting. Too left leaning and without convincing arguments. The author seems deliberately trying not to look biased and fails to do so with confusing and contradicting views.
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: bharat
A journalistic work on how the rapacity and greed of the Government-Businessmen-crime nexus rules this nation.
Vaishnavi Devshatwar
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Truth is bitter to read, but it's time to accept and try to do something to make India's democracy more stronger and efficient.
Puneet Shetty
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Of the few lines that stuck with me after reading the book 'A feast of vultures' this one is probably the most moving - "Our cities are lit up with their tears." Their refers to the villagers who have for a very long time been fighting a losing battle against Indian conglomerates who have been exploiting the nation's natural resources for their personal gains. This book gives an immense understanding into the " business of democracy" since India has attained Independence and the kind of country ...more
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Deeply anguished by the state of India's democracy. A brave book by Josy Joseph.
Tanya Fernandes
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Through The Feast of Vultures, Joseph articulates much of what we know but fail to acknowledge. He brings to the light what we’ve for so long swept under the rug, hoping that the ever-growing not-so-well disguised pile of garbage can hither go unnoticed. That junk that we’ve let accumulate is a sorry representation of our political, social and economic system - a mere rubber stamp of democracy that buried under by corruption, crony capitalism and criminals.

We need investigative journalism of th
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book is the culmination of the information and knowledge that the author has gathered over an illustrious journalistic career, about the way our country works and what it takes to get anything done. It showcases the sheer amount of crony capitalism, rampant corruption and excessive greed which feeds the engine of "growth" at the cost of the environment, social justice and fair play. It's an eye-opening account for someone unfamiliar with how India works and provides a lot of insight to show ...more
Rohith Jyothish
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
'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 proc
Shanavas Pn
Aug 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Josy, an investigative journalist behind India’s recent journalism scoops, effectively straddles his makeover as a leading non-fiction writer. While his work through the years chronicles the brutal saga behind India’s leading problems of corruption and ‘middle-man’ equations—Josy courageously names politicians and businessmen, who are complicit in the art of undermining India’s progress for their selfish agenda. As the country’s image suffers in
Ankur Vohra
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you want to get depressed about state of affairs for us in India-pick up this book. I think you can call the book more a piece of narrative journalism which lays bare the well known but rarely told ways in which the Indian democracy and its institutions work. The writer raise some pertinent questions about- why the most important questions facing our democracy like Funding of our Political Parties, The politician-corporate-criminal nexus and so on, can only find limited coverage in our mainst ...more
Anal Ghosh
The deep-rooted business of corruption in India as seen through the years of investigative journalism by Josy Joseph. There are eye-opening revelations about middlemen whom we never hear about (typists & acquaintances of the ruling clan, arms deal brokers, tax haven logistics providers, etc.) and the enormous power they wield in policy decisions and government deals. The book dedicates a significant portion to the private aviation sector, the meteoric rise of East West airlines, and how a certai ...more
Shafeeque Suhail
Nov 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Questions that arose in my mind each time a scandal or scam broke, finds a place in Josy’s book.

“ The duty of the new officers was to push aside all kinds of obstacles and facilitate industries, and if there were laws for protecting the tribals and the forest, and for land acquisition their duty was to help the entrepreneurs overcome them, because India wanted all these thousands of megawatts of electricity and ores.”

A Feast of Vultures, a terrifying read on corruption in India, is testimony t
Dec 04, 2016 rated it liked it
The book is a bit slow start with but the chapters towards the end are really insightful. The book had an overall negative undertone.
I think with the mass media the point that the author is trying to make does get broadcasted one to often.
I would have appreciated it more if the author could have given even more insight into the modus operandi of the characters mentioned in the book. That said I really liked the chapter on an old famous airline that many might not even know the name of now.
May 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a brilliant piece of investigative journalism. Nothing prepared me for many of the shocking revelations in this book. The author has been now slapped with a Rs 1000 crore defamation case by a major businessman. The sections which focus on the murky defense deals were an eyeopener. I had to read most of the sections of the book twice to really take in the information contained.
Kamlesh Gandhi
Aug 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Not enough depth more of a paint brush
The only one story is in depth is about East West airline and the murder of it CEO Waheed . He blames Goyal for getting political favours yet overlooks the patronage the airline received from the powers . Not that I side with Goyal .
Imran Kazi
Aug 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is going to be fascinating. Started today.

Latest update: Investigative journalism of the best quality.
Ekita Parmar
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Same old Typical Crony Capitalism rant by a Left-Liberal.. And shows some clear biases at times..
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Josy Joseph is an Indian investigative journalist.

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You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
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“Democracy in India is only a ‘top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic’.” 3 likes
“Politicians, banking cheats, professional scamsters, smugglers, pimps and all manner of business folk, from liquor barons to sweet sellers, have entered the lucrative business of education – a sector that is protected from slowdowns.” 2 likes
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