Even IIT Academics Practice Plagiarism in India

Plagiarism in India. Observations, Numbers and Reasons for Plagiarism in India

Even IIT Academics Practice Plagiarism… That’s some of them copy from the Research work of others.

A TOI report today, shares a recent Plagiarism incident, where in a plagiarism charge has been made against an IIT academic. According to TOI, courtesy the data from the Society for Scientific Values (a volunteer ‘watchdog’, which investigates on an average around 200 new complaints of plagiarism and corruption against scientists every month), in this latest one, a well-known Indian scientist is accused of lifting entire paragraphs from a plant biology paper by a scientist at the University of Heidelberg.

The Society for Scientific Values says that one can find plagiarism cases from all IITs — IIt kanpur, IIT Chennai, etc. And understandably, most of the times, the copied paragraphs, texts, research is from the research papers of the acclaimed scientists. To cut the revelation short, while the complaints against academics at little known universities and other organizations are a common thing; the ‘prestigious’ institutions too are not far behind in plagiarism.

What the Society for Scientific Values has observed about Plagiarism in India:

Founded in 1987, the Society for Scientific Values, is currently headed by KL Chopra, former director of IIT Kharagpur. The society which has come a long way since its foundation has now has more than 500 members. This is what the Society has observed about Plagiarism in India:

1) When a case of Plagiarism is brought to the notice of the Institution, the usual practice of the Instituion is to ignor it and not respond to it. Even IITs try to sweep the thing under the carpet. In the absence of legal powers to take an action, the society can go ahead only if the the university acknowledges the society or the scientist accepts misconduct.

2) Institutions normally don’t take action against the Academic/Faculty accused of plagiarism.

3) Academics/Scientists/Faculties see a Research paper from the career growth point of view. That’s how a research paper helps them in getting a promotion to the next higher seat (promotions are linked to the number of papers they publish). This pushes them to publish as many papers as possible in a short time.

4) Still, the society feels powerless in its crusade for values. “We don’t have legal powers. Our cases move forward only if the university acknowledges them or the scientist accepts misconduct.

5) Proving Plagiarism is a slow and complicated process, sometimes taking years to take the case to its right end.

6) Even the Top Universities globally can’t nail a plagiarist, as their are no tools available out there.

7) Plagiarism is bound to become more rampant in coming years.


Why Even IIT Academics Practice Plagiarism?

The reasons can be many. One of which is stated by the Plagiarism in India Watchdog. Others we can discuss here.

One reason for increasing plagiarism in India, may be linked to the use of Web or internet. Web has made accessible to a user every information, right from basic to advanced. This has resulted in a situation, where a user is accessing any information he/she likes, without giving much thought to the copyright. For instance, online encyclopedia Wikipedia, an open Source project, is used by millions of Indians daily, but most are unaware of the nature of the copyright the Wikipedia offers. In short, there’s more moral dilemma plagiarizing paragraphs, texts from a book made up of paper, compared to some online publication.

Another reason can be what, noted writer Pawan Verma, shared in his book “Being Indian”. In the book, the author says that Indians by very  nature are Social Hierarchy climbers. That’s they want to move up in society and enhance their reputations. And Academics are no exceptions to this rule. According to him,  the moment an academic enters the university, he/she starts making right contacts to climb that social hierarchy. Top professors using their contacts to get some University Chancellor post, some deputation job at some Government ministry are a common sight.

I think there’s another factor as well. The factor is the Lack of Academic Culture in Indian Higher Education. With Academic Culture, I mean a culture where the only place to find an academic, apart from his/her tutoring duties, is his/her Study. India doesn’t seem to have that kind of Academic culture.

And there are reasons why we don’t have one. First is, Indians habitually give more weightage to money than talent. This  is evident from the observation that “Whenever someone demands more monetary incentive for talent, in the form of increased salaries for Academics, Scientists, Teachers” no one actually supports them. This results in Academics, who mostly reflect talent, lagging behind.

As in India, social status compensates for the lack of Money. Hence, unless an Academic reaches the top of social hierarchy, he/she continues to lag behind.  Since, climbing social hierarchy requires time, that automatically means an Academic getting less time to devote to his/her core area, research.


What is the Solution?

Plagiarism in India -- Even IIT Professors see research as a tool to get promoted. Plagiarism in India may have social dimensions to it. Plagiarism in India may be aggravated by the lacunae in the Higher Education System in India.Develop Academic Culture in India. This means respecting the talent. Respecting the talent, more than the money. Creating a structure, where in Academics are top paid individuals in the country. The compensation package must be that much which makes them toil in their academics and research without any distraction (distraction of other job avenues, necessity of social status ). This also means having Self Contained, best accommodating (in terms of residence, civic facilities)  University campuses. In an ideal Academic Atmosphere, a University Researcher, be it a Faculty/Academic, can live his/her entire life from his/her classes and Study. We need to give that Academic Culture to our Academics.

I’m concluding this write-up with a latest incident, where our sheer disregard for talent in India became visible.

The Resident doctors at Safdarjung Medical College  Delhi, went on a strike recently. They were demanding proper residence facilities and safety for women resident doctors during night shifts. Most of the newspapers and TV channels covered the news from the common man’s point of view. That’s, how the strike was affecting the patients in the hospital.

Although, patients are more important than the doctors, but what about the demands of the resident doctors. Why are the newspapers and TV channels not vouching for doctors as well. After all they have studied hard to become a doctor; and now are made to stage a strike to get a decent accommodation? Don’t they deserve it?

I think, treating Talent adequately serves a country in a long run… It’s more lucrative as well — As any person, who has the potential to research or value add to our understanding of Science, Society, humans, is a valuable asset to the development of human existence.  You can do the calculations.