- Title – The Sceptical Patriot
- Author – Sidin Vadukut
- Publisher – Rupa Publications
- Genre – Non- Fiction
- Pages – 208
- ISBN – 978-81-291-2903-1
- Price – 250 INR
Blurb on the Book – India. A land where history, myth and email forwards have come together to create a sense of a glorious past that is awe-inspiring…and also kind of dubious. But that is what happens when your future is uncertain and your present is kind of shitty—it gets embellished until it becomes a totem of greatness and a portent of potential.
Sidin Vadukut takes on a complete catalogue of ‘India’s Greatest Hits’ and ventures to separate the wheat of fact from the chaff of legend. Did India really invent the zero? Has it truly never invaded a foreign country in over 1,000 years?
Did Indians actually invent plastic surgery before those insufferable Europeans? The truth is more interesting—and complicated—than you think.
Review – The book has a very eye-catching cover that’s creative, colorful and depicts the true essence of the book beautifully. I particularly loved the (* conditions Apply) written on the cover because the author has used this clause very intelligently.
The book begins with ‘Extensive Disclaimers’ (that’s the title of the introduction chapter) where the author has exercised his liberty to show the reader the thought process that he went through in writing this book.
The book points at the very biases we Indians have spun around us and how we have started living lives believing in the information being fed to us through viral texts, forwarded emails and repeated a million times in digital media. How we very conveniently, never ever stop to inquire or dig deeper or unearth the facts lying buried in the pile of attractive banners and messages doing circles in media of all sorts. Digital or otherwise.
Sidin Vadukut has touched upon handful of the most popular oft-repeated ‘India facts’. Researched about their roots and has tried to put forward the actual facts taking care to make this arduous journey interesting with a dose of his humor. The first seven chapters of the book are dedicated to such myths with ‘Fact score cards’ at the end of each chapter helping sum up the findings during the chapter.
Besides the ‘facts’, there are also the quotes outlining the greatness of India. As the author looks into the original versions of these quotes as such, instances of omission, excision & even misrepresentation begin to surface; leaving the reader to make his own conclusions.
The whole idea is some the ‘facts’ talked about in this book are believed upon blindly by the smartest, most educated, most influential Indians so fervently, that many wouldn’t harbor the idea of weighing the veracity of these perceptions.
“Why are we so easily swayed by facts forwarded by email? Why do so many Indians believe that the Taj Mahal was originally a temple called Tejo Mahalaya? Why do so many of us instantly believe and immediately proselytize that ‘India has never invaded any country in her last 1,000 years of history’ or that ‘The word “navigation” is derived from the Sanskrit navgath’ without even pausing to ask: ‘Is any of this actually true?”
The narration is crisp, language lucid and rich in entertaining anecdotes from the author’s life making it an interesting read.
I have to admit that on many occasions I felt ‘why should I bother to read all the research Sidin has done and not just skim to the inferences?’ At all those points, Vadukut seemed to have read my mind giving me funny and interesting memoirs of his life to keep me going till the end.
I recommend reading this myth-buster book with a lot of patience to experience the brilliance peppered with humor to the fullest. The author has made it clear right in the start that India is indeed great, this book is about Indians and the truth behind the glorified myths circling them.
The final two chapters make for the cherry on the cake as they talk about all the thoughts I felt fill my mind while reading the book. Why History and Skepticism matter? What is the point of all the research done while writing this book? What Sidin has written, suddenly seems to make a lot of sense.
If you’re looking for an interesting, different from routine, summer read that will engage & enlighten your mind, your search ends at The Sceptical Patriot.
About The Author – Sidin Vadukut is one of India’s most popular journalists, authors, columnists and bloggers. He is currently an editor with Mint, and is the author of the best-selling Dork series.
The Sceptical Patriot is his first book of non-fiction. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.
Rating - 4/5