Book review: A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy  

A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy  is all about how the creaky government machinery moves only when the lubricant bribe is applied

The rule of the game in modern India is very simple, even if the structure it creates is horribly tangled maze. In this country it is okay to do practically anything, use fake promoters, accept bribes commission murders, intimidate media, manipulate courts, and the ultimate to grab power in one’s pocket.  The book A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy in India by Josy Joseph is a reality most citizen, the visitors experience in myriad ways.  He described through all the chapters and different sections about how the creaky Government machinery moves only when the lubricant bribe is applied.

The line which the author chose ‘THE HINDDEN BUSSINESS OF DEMOCRCAY’ details about how the big wigs like entrepreneurs, politicians, and industrialists blatantly abuse power and still thrive. How they buy their ways into the legislature and parliament to manipulate public processes for their private gain. How can leaders whose immoral politics is legend continue to control the levers of powers and paid news such a thriving industry? It’s the middleman, fixers, lobbyists, who has a complete control to the access of this big league.

The book is a journey of the author in some of the urban villages and his meetings with the middlemen from a small timer who does things at district level to the private levels mighty secretaries like M A Mathai , R K Dawan et al who control the bigwigs and get the things done for their  bosses  occupied the top greasy poles.

The story begins with a lengthy prologue as context of rest of the chapters in the book which is a narrative of a village name Hridyachak in the state of Bihar which requires proper roads, good health care centres and basic amenities for the people. It describes how rural people and majority living in India’s village finding themselves besieged. The Indian democracy works only through middlemen who know how to get the moribund system moving. Ordinary citizens in their thousands wait patiently every day at the residences of politicians’ typist professionals-intermediaries to get the system to deliver what is justifiably theirs.

Josy Joseph
Josy Joseph

Moving on the first chapter the middlemen details the work of these intermediaries whom author calls Mr. Fix it down the street, somewhere out there who could do the work from getting a birth certificate to organizing government subsidy, manipulating contracts or throwing a government out.  It talks about crisis that privileged Indians are in denial about because all of them benefit from it. India has become a rich country of too many poor people. Morality and public good have completely disappeared from the imagination of key participants.

It gives an insight to the nation’s most flourishing industry of the country. How deals are made at the back door meetings and the role of the middlemen in the dingy decision making process especially in the defence sector

Down the memory lane it describes the Sikh revolt in 1984. The mighty secretaries cum middlemen like  Rajendra Kuamr Dawan and Vincent George migrated India and went on to become the arbiter of power between the Gandhi family and a significant part of rest of the India including senior leaders of the congress. Description of his life story in the book helps understand the modern India and how its gigantic creaky engine of governance moves.

It gives an insight to the nation’s most flourishing industry of the country. How deals are made at the back door meetings and the role of the middlemen in the dingy decision making process especially in the defence sector.   How they provide a set of legitimate services mostly to the foreign company that finds it difficult to navigate the procurement process of the host country.

This book is a fix of field and the investigative reportings lay bare the systematic manipulation of public expenditure by middlemen the erosion of democratic accountability and the weakening of the governance. Political parties are aware of the simmering anger among the people. How corruption has become the focal point for civil society mobilization as well.

The very private sector is an instructive manual on how to do business and succeed in modern India. The three chapters are merely illustratives of course. An enterprising soul could come up with an entirely uncharted trajectory. The narrative reads a line thriller. It describes the rise and fall of East West Airlines rechristened as Jet Airways and the murder of managing director Thakiyuddin Abdul Wahid as the top target of Chhota Rajan, Dawood’s rival don.

The book also explores the storied rise of Dhirubhai Ambani, from a gas station attendant to billionaire owner of the Reliance group. It alleges the involvement of big names like Naresh  Goyal’s connection with Dawood Ibrahim. The pumping of money through how manipulatively is done and bigwigs got clean chit in several cases of corruptions.

The big league is about the men and women at the very top of the Indian democracy. They sit so high above us; they are practically out of sight. These are the stories about the ultimate beneficiaries of the Indian Democracy. But they are not representatives enough the true diversity of the nation most successful people hard to portray.  Success is the mantra that binds them.  Book alleges big league gentlemen like Jindal and Ambani pulling the rug beneath our feet even as more young joining the race to become well heeled company man.

The book is a good read. It tells clearly that anyone attempt to unmask the appalling double game of the people that run India and drive its economy and put together evidence of their duplicity, they will deploy igneous methods to silence them.

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About Khushboo Agrahari 15 Articles
Khushboo is a journalist based in Jaipur

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