Chandra Krishnamurthy, the erstwhile Vice-Chancellor of National Law University Orissa & currently the Vice-Chancellor of Pondicherry University is the latest in the series of academics who have been accused of plagiarism. Earlier this month, Deepak Pental (Ex- Vice Chancellor of Delhi University) & Abhijit Chakrabarti (Vice- Chancellor of Jadavpur University) were accused of plagiarism. This makes Krishnamurthy the third academic in India to be accused of plagiarism in a single month.
It is alleged that Krishnamurthy in her book, ‘Legal Education in India’, lifted 5 out of 8 chapters from research papers written by legal luminary, N R Madhava Menon. Following this revelation, the Pondicherry University Teachers’ Association (Puta), the Students Federation of India (SFI) and former Puducherry MP and former director of university M Ramadass approached the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) seeking Krishnamurthy’s ouster at the earliest.
The charges against Krishnamurthy include allegations that the two books which Ms. Krishnamurthy claims to have written are apparently non-existent and 24 of the 25 papers which she claims to have submitted could not be traced in the UGC database or the online repository for law schools.
The Puta Secretary, N. Dastagiri Reddy cited the example of Kumaun University vice-chancellor B S Rajput who had resigned following plagiarism charges against him and said that Krishnamurthy must resign. He said, “We all view plagiarism as an extreme form of dishonesty and academic theft. We call for immediate removal of the vice-chancellor and a thorough probe by the Union ministry of human resource development into her academic credentials and claims of publications.”
Reddy added that Pondicherry University has taken stringent measures in the past against plagiarism and had dismissed a faculty member guilty of plagiarism in the past.
Expressing strong condemnation, SFI Puducherry Secretary, A Anand, said, “This is an instance of theft and lack of credibility on the part of the head of a prestigious academic institution. These evidences vindicate the accusation that Chandra earned the VC post through fraudulent means. This is also a serious violation of the academic ethics from one who is supposed to safeguard the academic credentials of a higher educational institution. Chandra must be immediately removed from the post and an inquiry should be initiated into all her misdemeanors.”
The incident is an extremely unfortunate one; it exposes the deplorable state of academic research in the country and raises ethical concerns. It also calls for a serious debate on how to effectively check plagiarism in the academia.
While plagiarism almost always invites charges of copyright infringement, it is worth differentiating between plagiarism and copyright infringement. Plagiarism is the use of another’s work without giving him attribution, whereas, copyright infringement is the use of an author’s work without his permission (where the work is protected by copyright). Plagiarism is not only legally wrong, it also violates the moral right of the author to be recognized as the author of the work.
Nobody who has studied in a law school in India is alien to the culture of ‘cut-copy-paste’ or “CCP” prevalent in the student community. However, when the same is resorted to by academics holding extremely prestigious and important posts in educational institutions, it is indeed scary. The reputation of an academic is determined largely on the basis of how “published” he/she is and this leads to their appointment on expert panels and as heads of educational institutions. Vice-Chancellors and teachers of educational institutes must realize the academic responsibility that they shoulder and they must set the right example for their students by not indulging in dishonest academic practices themselves.
H/T: We would like to thank Mr. Onkar for bringing this vital piece of information to our notice.