The Sceptical Patriot
Rupa Publications. First published 2014.
Vadukut starts off with a nervous disclaimer, more abject apology, really. He clearly anticipates violent reactions from all the non-sceptical patriots who have recently come out of the woodwork and are constantly and agressively casting around for things to take competitive umbrage to. Well, he need not really have been so fearful. For he finds a degree of truth in all the seven great Indian truths that he investigates, sufficient truth to allow even the mildest brown-shorted, black-capped, mustachioed patriot to satisfactorily silence the most voluble, khadi kurta-clad JNU-educated jholawala.
He finds that plastic surgery (nose jobs in particular) was practiced in India several centuries, even millennia, before it found mention in European records; Chola kings did invade South Asian nations (though this is contrary to the given wisdom that 'peaceful' India was always the invadee, never invader); the zero, the mathematical zero, that is, was first used in India - probably; India's per capita GDP at the time the British first colonized this country was on par, though not much superior to, the richest nations of that time; JC Bose did perform the first experiments that demonstrated wireless radio transmission over a few hundred metres and across intervening walls; Sanskrit is a pretty logical language, well worth investigating by researchers in sub-field of computer science called natural language processing; and finally, something like a university did in fact exist in Takshashila (in what is now Pakistan) about two and a half thousand years ago.
In my opinion the discoveries, while interesting in themselves, and leading to a deepened appreciation of Indian culture and history, are pointless from the point of view modern-day politics, the point of view that Vadukut apparently takes. He writes well, if a bit too elaborately, padding out the relatively slim returns he obtained from what must have been about eighteen months research, with anecdotes, both personal and historical, that only tangentially bear upon the subject at hand. Minus these, the book would have been no more than a pamphlet of some 20 odd pages. As it stand, it is a light, easily readable and amusing book, which did actually end up enlightening me. However, I remain not entirely convinced about some of his 'history'.