Sidin Vadukut’s “The Sceptical Patriot” is the type of book that needs to be in Indian school libraries. In it, he explores the truthfulness of many of the facts that we “know” about India ranging from the invention of zero to plastic surgery. A civilization as ancient as the one in the subcontinent is bound to have many myths and legends, overgrown by hearsay and exaggeration. A course correction is, at times, needed.
In a work vastly more different than his satirical Dork series, Vadukut has matured as an author to move towards an alternate plane. The Sceptical Patriot is not meant for avid historians, but for beginners who are fascinated by many things Indian. The research done is excellent and for most part he sticks to the points being discussed. While it is easy for many writers to focus too much on research and bring out a boring technical book, Vadukut has managed to add just the right bit of humor to keep the average reader interested. He adds a personal touch as well, bringing in anecdotes from his life. While the connect between the anecdotes and the content are at times disjointed, they do well in humanizing the content.
A two chapter summation may sound too much, but it justifies the need for the book. It is often said history is written by the winners, but unless you kill off the losers like the way we killed off the Neanderthals, it is likely that their history will survive, creating a confusing version of the world. For example, have you ever thought why the only two people who would go for ritual circumcision in the modern world prior to Moses were the Egyptians and the Jews? For those really interested in history there are, for most part, material available for finding the truth. However, when history gets taught by the winners, it manages to imbibe itself into a society that may have otherwise rejected it.
The Sceptical Patriot do not seek to rewrite history textbooks, but it keeps the student open to more ideas. And for that it needs to be in Indian school libraries.