I happened to see an interview with Josy Joseph on Newslaundry.com sometime in 2016 or 2017, which made me curious and led me to purchase his book. It was only now that I could actually read it. People like Joseph is a rare breed in India today, people who risk everything to investigate the corrupt and the powerful, and for this very reason, if not just for the explosive contents and great writing, every Indian must read Josy Joseph.
This book is divided into three sections. The first one talks about the "middlemen", people from all walks of life, from a peon in a Government office to Union Cabinet Ministers and Corporate and Underworld criminals, middlemen are the ones who essentially keep our democracy running, albeit for their own benefit. Anything and everything can be accomplished if you know who to approach to get things moving and if you have the resources required. In particular, I liked the second chapter about the famous personal assistants (PAs) of our famous politicians. By playing the trusted confidant and gatekeepers of the big and the powerful, these PAs became hyper-important just by association.
The second section talks about India's aviation industry and is my favorite part of the book. It is full of exciting details about the inner workings and despite being non-fiction, it made me read it with the excitement of fiction. As cliche as it sounds, truth is often stranger than fiction. It talks about India's entrepreneurial spirit, the Government, the criminal underworld and how our premier investigation agencies are just toys at the hands of the powerful. I highly recommend this book just for this section.
Finally, the last section talks about India's super-rich and how they became what they are. It talks about the Mallyas, the Jindals, the Saharas, the Adanis and last but most prominent, the Ambanis. The last chapter, "A House for Mr. Ambani" was a great read.
I appreciate the courage of the author to name and shame such big and powerful names in India. But he knows what he is talking about and is not just making things up. His investigations have led to several big talking points in India's current affairs and we need more people like him to be India's conscience keepers. I highly recommend this book to everyone who would like to have a reality check of India's celebrated democracy.
Here's the video of the interview that made me pick up the book:
In the 80s there were about 80 million vultures on the Indian subcontinent. In 2017 there's only a few thousand at most of the three most important species of Indian vultures.
This all is the result of Diclofenac, a medicine used to treat fever, inflammation, joint issues, and wounds in mammals including cattle and humans. It also happens to be extremely toxic to vultures, causing renal failure and gout with very little exposure. And cattle carcasses are a large source of food for vultures. A simulation showed that if 1% of cows had diclofenac in their system it would decimate the vultures. In actuality about 10% of all cows in India are treated with it.
Prior to their population collapse, vultures were vital to the Indian ecosystem, being the primary large scavenger almost to exclusion. They also served as a means of disposal of human remains for the Tibetans and Zoroastrians, who now are having to find other methods of doing so, but the horribly anti-environmental practices of the modern funeral industry is a ramble that deserves its own post. Now that vultures are gone, there has has been a population boom in other scavengers, primarily rats and wild dogs. Vultures are exceptionally well suited to their ecological role, with their digestion effectively removing pathogens from what they eat. It also helps that pathogens have a much harder time crossing the mammal-bird barrier than going from cow to dog or rat. All this together means there's allot more diseases being spread around, both from the susceptibility of wild dogs and rats to spreading these diseases, and due to having many more rotting carcasses laying around since rats and wild dogs are much less efficient at consuming them. As a direct result of this, 30,000 people now die a year from rabies in India.
And farmers are still importing Diclofenac through the black market to treat their animals.
All of this to avoid accepting a little bit of loss from their herds. And now there's a far higher rate of loss than they ever saved from using it in the first place.
Right, in Highpool. It seems I dealt with the kids and unlocked her cage without actually talking to her. Shes run off, apparently never to be seen again.....
Does anyone know where I might find her?