It's My Story: The Indian Sceptic

A voyage into the weird and wonderful world of Mr B Premanand and a fanatical rationalist.

The irreverant Mr Premanand, India's leading guru buster, is a man with two missions. The first is to expose any charlatan who pretends his magic tricks are miracles; the second is to dispel the curse of gullibility blighting his country and to replace it instead with the gospel of rationalism.

To that end, this sprightly septuagenarian has spent the last 25 years touring Indian villages and schools demonstrating the fallacy of so-called 'miracles'. His crusade has ensured his own mastery over magic and at the age of 73 he is the oldest member of India's International Brotherhood of Magicians, with a knowledge of over 1,500 tricks. He is also convenor of the Federation of Indian Rationalists, head of the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and editor of a monthly journal.

Tanya Dutta catches up with Mr Premanand on a rollercoaster trip around India. With him, she encounters a cosmic healer who can diagnose colour hunger, tries out meditation under a pyramid and witnesses the bizarre case of a statue growing hair.

But catching fraudulent godmen is not plain sailing. As Tanya and Mr Premanand go on the trail of a guru who claims he can heal, they are stalled, spied on and ultimately given the slip.

At a time when Indian politics has become more and more coloured by religion, Mr Premanand is determined to smash the stranglehold of superstition wherever he sees it. Some people think he's going too far. He's survived several vicious beatings and even murder attempts but, despite the risks, he remains undeterred, convinced that his vision for India is the only way forward.

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