Vikram Sampath is one of the most famous Indian writers and historians. He is popular for his books. He is also a curator and musician. Wadiyar Rajvansh (2008) and Gauhar Jaan (2012) are some of the books that earned him praise, a biography that depicts the life story of India’s first classical musician. He was also harshly accused of plagiarism for his other biography of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, which brought a bad name to his name.
Vikram Sampath was born in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. He did his schooling at Sri Aurobindo Memorial School and Bishop Cotton Boys School. When he was 5 years old, his parents decided to train him in Carnatic music and since he belonged to a wealthy family, his parents used Jayanthi Kumaresh and Bombay Jayashree as his music teachers. were able to.
He completed his graduation with a degree in Electronics Engineering and did his post-graduation with a master’s degree in Mathematics from BITS Pilani. Even though he had all the luxuries in life, he still wanted to follow his passion for writing. His professor wanted him to do a PhD in topology, but Vikram planned something else for himself. He holds an MBA degree in Finance from SP Jain Institute of Management and Research.
parents and siblings
Vikram belongs to a wealthy Tamil Hindu family from Bangalore. His father was a banker and his late mother was a Marathi housewife.
For 8 months, Vikram worked at GE Capital in Gurgaon in 2005, then he joined Citibank in Bangalore and worked till 2008. As of July 2013, he continued to work as a financial analyst at Hewlett-Packard (then known as HP). He put on hold his desire to become a writer until he received a scholarship for a PhD in ethnography from the Music School of the University of Queensland, Australia. He quit his job and went to Australia to fulfill his dream.
Vikram is famous for his autobiographies and history books. His major books are as follows:
- In 2008, he published his first book titled ‘Wadiyar Dynasty’, which was based on the history of the Wadiyar Dynasty of Mysore. He wanted to write about it when he saw the Indian historical drama ‘The Sword of Tipu Sultan’ and saw the derogatory portrayal of the Wadiyar in the show. His deep and complex research before writing this book was one of the qualities that made the book very famous and influential. Arun Shourie and Ramachandra Guha were his alleged inspirations, but he did not write the book from the point of view of a historian. There was a good response of the people to the book. Some said it was a page-turner, noting how many years they spent trying to release the book at best, while some called it to dominate other works made in a similar context. praised him.
- His second book was a biography based on the life story of Kolkata-based Gauhar Khan dancer and singer, who was India’s first classical musician to record on gramophone, published in 2012. To thoroughly research and learn more about the singer, he arranged a trust with the help of funding from TV Mohandas Pai to digitize old gramophone recordings. The book earned both positive and negative reviews, as if the citations weren’t enough, but the book made a huge contribution to traditional Indian music and gave Gauahar Jaan the recognition it deserved.
- In 2013, he published his third book under Roopa Publications, which chronicles the history of Padma Bhushan awardee Sundaram Balachander, a noted Indian veena player and filmmaker. When people came to know about the book, Vikram faced a lot of hatred but he did not stop writing the book. According to him S. Balachander was a notorious genius. s. Balachander’s family helped Vikram a lot in telling every minute detail. TM Krishna, an Indian Carnatic singer, writer and activist, reviewed the work to be captivating, detailed and portraying the various stages of Balachander’s life in a rare way. Others reviewed the book as a well-researched and detailed portrayal of a Carnatic music artist.
- The biography of VD Savarkar was the fourth book released by Vikram. The book was published in two parts by Penguin Books, the first part was released in 2019 and the second in 2021. For him, the motivation behind writing the book was to write a detailed biography as a tribute to the worthy Indian politician, activist. And as before, less detailed information was available about him and his presence in Indian politics. His book faced both praise and criticism. Swati Parashar, a professor at the University of Gothenburg, said that everyone should read the book, on the other hand Janaki Bachele, an associate professor of Indian history at the University of California, said that despite the subtle and extensive research, it lacks updates.
On 11 February 2022, Audrey Truschke, Rohit Chopra and Ananya Chakraborty wrote a letter to the President of the Royal Historical Society condemning Vikram’s plagiarism and requesting that his membership and scholarship be reconsidered. He was convicted of interpreting from the works of Vinayak Chaturvedi and Janaki Bakhale for his fourth book on VD Savarkar. He was even accused of copying nearly a paragraph from a graduate student thesis and not properly citing the work of others. Vinayak and Janaki both hated his actions which were not worthy of praise. They wanted him to apologize for his mistake and take back the publication of his book.
Vikram vehemently denied all charges against him and also pursued a defamation suit in the Delhi High Court, seeking costs of 2 crore rupees ($269,000). He said that due to a common source, the biographical paragraph was quite similar. To which the other authors replied that it was unprofessional to refer to a publication in order to freely reproduce the material. A restraining order was issued by the court at the first hearing to prevent Audrey Trushke and others from releasing any slanderous articles or letters. In violation of the order, several tweets were posted which were later asked to be removed.
Awards, Honors, Achievements
- Youth Award in English Literature for ‘Gauhar Khan’ by Sahitya Akademi, India
- Excellence in Historical Research Award by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections
- He was elected as a fellow in the Royal Historical Society.
- Vikram received a visiting fellowship from the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study.
- He is the Founder-Director of Bangalore Lit Fest and Zee Group’s Earth: A Culture Fest.
- Vikram is a former Senior Fellow of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.
- In 2014, Vikram was selected as the Executive Director of the Bangalore Regional Center of the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts.
Facts / Trivia
- Vikram is an animal lover and has a pet dog named Leo.
— Dr. Vikram Sampath, FRHistS (@vikramsampath) 5 April 2022
- He likes to take a walk on the beach and watch the sunset.