Book Review: A Feast of Vultures by Josy Joseph


A Feast of Vultures is a sombre look at the underpinnings behind the facade of an emerging India. If you want a behind-the-scenes account of the functioning of the Indian state, this book is for you. It lays bare the truth behind the working of politico-business empires of the country, using them as a metaphor for vultures preying on the continuing feast of the liberalized Indian economy.

Penned by Josy Joseph, a journalist with a 2 decade long experience covering issues of national interest, A Feast of Vultures provides a narrative that is gloomy and disheartening. From the already much-criticised working of the government, to the crony capitalism of the private sector, the book is wide-ranging and spares none. However, this insider’s account is not to be confused with scoops and rumours compiled from Lutyens’ Delhi. This book is far from it, it has anecdotes and documentary references that betray the work of a battle-hardened veteran investigative journalist. In Joseph’s words, this is a reporter’s inquiry into the state of the nation. It is in fact, nothing more and nothing less.

A Feast of Vultures attempts to make some semblance of order out of the chaotic bureaucratic system, with its web of middlemen. If you only had a vague idea of the corruption in the creaking government machinery, this book will be a reasonable eye-opener.

For an optimist looking forward to a cleaner, transparent government and a society that is just for all, the book is a primer on where things stand and how far the nation still has to go. It might just turn you into a pessimist. At only about 229 pages long, A Feast of Vultures can leave you longing for more.




Excuse me! Who’s in charge?


Can someone direct me to who is in charge over here? I want to get in touch with whoever is running this show. Because, clearly this script is really messed up. I am talking about life.

When a 25 year old cricketer dies on the pitch, while 90 year old corrupt politicians refuse to kick the bucket, you really wonder if there’s any sense of fairness in the world. I’ve been asking this question repeatedly today, How can someone die playing cricket? Not even in the wildest dreams could Phil Hughes have imagined that he was going in to bat for the last time.

In that sense, I believe cricket resembles life, with every ball you face being a new day. You can score off it and be happy, let it go if it’s too uncomfortable to play, and sadly, it can even take your life. So, who is really the one in charge? Because it’s clearly not us. Could Phil Hughes have done anything different to save his life? I don’t think so. That you can’t really save yourself from death is a very humbling thought, and makes you feel helpless.

Is there anything we can actually do? Apart from enjoying our limited time here, utilising this gift of life to do something meaningful, I don’t think there’s much. So have fun while the party lasts, and I’ll be a bit cheesy and end with a quote from an SRK flick – Haso, Jiyo, Khush Raho! Kya pata, Kal Ho Na Ho! (Smile, enjoy and stay happy! Who knows, tomorrow may never come!)

The Happy Birthday Experiment

After an extremely long hiatus, I am back to writing my blog. So long that I almost forgot it even existed. Well, apart from being ‘busy'(a reason I always find lame), it was primarily because I didn’t find a good enough idea, or didn’t come across an issue I felt strongly enough to resist playing a multiplayer game with my roomie and sit down to write*. But then 2 days ago, voila! it struck, an idea I’ll call “The Happy Birthday Experiment”.

Like many great thoughts, this one occurred to me while I was in the washroom. No, not while I was doing “the” job, I was merely brushing my teeth :P. I was pondering over the tradition of celebrating birthdays when it occurred to me how silly all of it was. Just because we took birth a certain time ago, and this day happened to fall on a multiple of 365 days from then, we find a reason to be happy throughout that day, celebrate it to no end and get pampered by everyone around us. It just doesn’t make sense. What are we celebrating? Getting old? Or nearing death? Or the reminder that our best years are slowly passing by?


And like it usually happens when you are conversing with yourself, I answered my own question. (Umm, its also the only thing that can happen, but that’s beside the point.) We celebrate living, the fact that we are alive and kicking. Maybe the tradition started off when average life expectancy was low and the passing of every subsequent 365 days was something worth celebrating.  But then again, what age of life expectancy can you define as low? Alexander the Great died at the age of 32, yet is well known as the great conqueror centuries after his death. A famous dialogue in an old Hindi movie goes, “Babu moshai, zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahi ” (Life shouldn’t be long, it should be big).

Okay, so back to the birthday. I don’t believe it’s just a manner of celebrating the fact that we’ve made it thus far, lived X amount of years and still counting. I feel it’s a head fake, an indirect method of achieving something else. (For those who’ve heard Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture, you know what I’m talking about. For those who haven’t, do see it.  It’s worth the time) Birthdays are about celebrating at least one day in an year to the fullest. It’s about being joyful and positive to everyone and everything around us. Remember how we don’t let anything disappoint us on our birthday? What if we live like that everyday? Isn’t a normal day worth living to the fullest? Why should we celebrate being alive only once a year? And that’s when I made a promise to myself – that every morning, when I reluctantly wake up and drag myself to the washroom, and face myself in the mirror, with drowsy eyes and a toothbrush, I’ll tell myself that it’s my birthday (just that nobody remembers it but since I am a kind soul, I’ll forgive them).

Hoping for the successful implementation of the Happy Birthday Experiment, logging off till the next washroom idea. 😉


* – The multiplayer game is Age of Empires which usually lasts for 4 hours on one sitting. Yeah, I am a very busy person. 😛

Forgotten Heroes

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,

For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

Today, 26 July 2013, marks the fourteenth anniversary of the culmination of the Kargil War. The war in which over 500 brave men of the Indian Armed forces laid down their lives to protect the motherland.  Yet, our country does not have a national war memorial commemorating the fallen heroes. After more than 65 years of independence, countless wars and counter-insurgency operations, the only national memorial our country boasts of is the one left behind by the British, in memory of World War 1 martyrs. 
Moreover, Indian textbooks rarely have any account of Indian history after Independence. It’s one of the reasons why I am not surprised when many of my friends at college are unaware of the wars India has fought, leave alone remembering the dates. There’s no tradition of observing a Memorial Day or a Veterans Day either, as in the US.
As a parting thought, I’d like to ask what kind of a nation we have if the father of a martyred soldier (Capt. Saurabh Kalia)  feels ashamed to be an Indian.


Alas, my blog is finally up and running! After spending innumerable hours of laziness, I eventually got around to completing one of the agenda from my New Years’ resolutions. Yes, I take them very seriously, which is evident from the fact that it took me almost 8 months to finish a task that was No.2 on the list. On the top of the list is waking up early, which….umm, the less said the better. Apart from expressing myself, I don’t really have any aim,purpose or objective for writing this blog. As the old adage goes, “Practice makes perfect”, maybe I’ll end up improving my writing skills. Also, having a link to your name is a pretty cool thing to have. I’ll try to keep the posts relevant yet humorous, whenever possible.

Hoping to publish another post soon, comments are welcome.