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

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  2,370 ratings  ·  292 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 21st 2016 by HarperCollins India (first published July 10th 2016)
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Dr. Appu Sasidharan
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dishonest or illegal behaviour, especially of people in authority, is the definition of corruption in the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary.
Josy Joseph tries to explore the corruption in depth in India in this book.

The author tells the secret of why the ultra-rich people and industrial houses are becoming richer while the poor are becoming poorer. Multiple scandals, murders, double-crossing, and all the dirty sides of our society are revealed in a thorough manner with all the proof by the author
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Harsimran Khural
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
One line summary:

"yeh bik gayi hai gormint!"
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..
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
ajay Kumar
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
while it picks up the right topics but the sense of detailing is so low that you fell like you are reading a long format newspaper article than a book...
Ashok Krishna
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Riveting. Revealing. Revolting.

Will share the full review soon.
Apr 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Raghuram V
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Too stark and difficult a read - not from a writing style perspective but from the presentation of the core theme. Nothing new/different from articles in most dailies.
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.
Mar 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
An intrepid journalist leaves no stones unturned in smearing the high and mighty of Indian political and business coterie, exposing the vicious nexus between politics, business and crime.
Even if the writing is not avant-grade, sometimes drifting away going all over the place, the startling exposé of how corruption and crime have been so deeply ingrained in our socio-political system across party lines, exploited by unscrupulous businessmen, make it a quite riveting read.
The story of rise and f
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
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
Kushal Bajpai
Mar 15, 2021 rated it it was ok
...This book highlights the plight of those who believe in the ‘system’ and the might of those who are believed to be the ‘system’... The only interesting read would be the chapter detailing the business rivalry between Thakuyuddin Wahid, owner of the first private airlines in india, ‘East west airlines’ and Naresh Goyal of Jet airways, both trying to outdo the other using their political connections. While the latter wins the race with flying colors, the former loses his life with flying bullet ...more
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.
Parth Arora
Jan 12, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating read on the corrupt and vicious relationship between politics and big business in India. We have all heard about how money controls politics and vice versa in India but the glaring examples that Josy Joseph brings out, backed with quotes from diverse sources, anecdotes and in some instances data hits you pretty hard. I was specifically mind boggled by the extremely shady rise of Naresh Goyal, CEO of Jet Airways, an entrepreneur I used to respect previously. It makes me wonder about ...more
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: bharata
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. ...more
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
Apr 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
The title has the "hidden business of democracy". It was enough for me to pick this up without looking at a lot of reviews.
Even with sufficient content around corruption, crony capitalism, the author manages to keep the readers interested. The first few chapters on the role of middleman is a revelation. We would have relied on their service at some point of time. An inefficient system like ours naturally attracts such actors.
The author further moves on to the story of East West Airlines and Jet
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. ...more
Alan DSouza
Mar 30, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I often wonder if I live in a democracy or is it just a fractured idea. Josy Joseph sheds light on some clandestine truths that has plauged this nation for decades. It is a page turner for sure and credit to the author for his deep research.
It seems neo-liberal economic reforms go hand in hand with extreme corruption in post-colonial third world countries. We will probably face similar (even worse) situation as india in coming years. Solid work of investigative journalism with fluid narrative. Have to read his other book about india's deep state. ...more
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
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Josy Joseph is an Indian investigative journalist.

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