From unearthing the unholy nexus between the underworld and politicians to the staggering might of middlemen, investigative journalist Josy Joseph reveals the dark side of Indian politics in his book “A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy in India”.
In the book, Joseph — who has exposed scams related to Mumbai’s Adarsh Housing Society and the allocation of 2G spectrum, among others — lays bare the systemic and deeply ingrained corruption that is hollowing out our democracy. Published by HarperCollins, the book is an angst-ridden narrative where the author also revisits some of the “buried” defence scams, black money cases and the goings on in the corridors of power.
Your book talks a lot about the increasing influence of middlemen in our society. Are you suggesting that they are the root of corruption?
In my book, I tackle middlemen from villages to typists who rose to the higher echelons of power. Intermediaries distort merit and they impose an extra cost. A story in my book about the plight of Hridaychak, an ordinary village of Bihar, is the story of every Indian village. It talks about the real struggle to get a road, school or a hospital.
You attribute the growing clout of middlemen to economic liberalisation at a time we are celebrating 25 years of economic reforms…
It is a coincidence that my book comes at a time when we are celebrating 25 years of liberalisation and 70 years of independence. A lot of us born in the socialist era have come to believe that middlemen are part of our system. Liberalisation has given a fillip to middlemen and they’ve grown a hundred times. If you get the right middleman, you can even buy a government. My book is an angst-ridden narrative on the distortion of our democracy.
Do you propose any solution to weed out corruption?
I don’t have a magical solution. One of the fundamental flaws in our system is that Indian politics sucks in a lot of black money and our corporates are forced to feed the political class. If we can bring transparency in political funding, that itself will diminish corruption.