Plagiarism from West Undoing the spirit of NEP

The inspiration comes from our rich heritage of cerebral tomes starting from the Vedas and travelling through the centuries before the arrival of the British.
University of Delhi.
University of Delhi.

Last week Delhi University constituted a committee pertaining to the use of social media platforms in respect of its employees. While the teachers and employees on the campus expressed concern over the issue, the public relations officer of the university came out with a lame excuse.

Defending the move, the university official said, “The committee was formed to look into the multiple unofficial Twitter and Instagram pages that are being run with Delhi University in their names. This creates a lot of confusion as they are not being run by us.” The social media enthusiasts would point out that herein lies the catch.

In the ordinary circumstances an institution’s official handle claims itself being one and on some platforms get themselves verified. The content and the nature of postings by these handles establish their credibility. Over a period of time the quality of the content ensures that the official handles come to have a greater credibility and more important acceptability.

The mandarins of Delhi University may note that the leading universities of the world including the IVY leagues universities in the United States do not follow any unified social media policy. Among the general guidelines followed by them, two are most relevant. These being -- Professionalism and Respectful Communication and Academic Integrity.

The first includes interactions with fellow students, faculty, staff, and the broader community. The second includes avoiding plagiarism, cheating, or any other forms of academic misconduct in digital spaces. Delhi University community can be said to have low quotient on both the counts.

In a very recent, and much embarrassing case, Delhi University vice chancellor was forced to withdraw the draft of the university’s strategic plan for the next 25 years as it was found to be plagiarised. As a teacher member of the academic council succinctly put it, “if we cannot write our own document, what does that say about the university?”

Former vice chancellor of Delhi University, Prof Dinesh Singh, in a recent article in this very newspaper had mentioned about plagiarism taking endemic proportions within the Indian academic community. Prof Singh cited an instance and mentioned, “I recall the case of a senior professor, who had written a major preface to a critical and important programme, which was to be presented at the Academic Council. Since the agenda had been circulated some days in advance, I was embarrassed to learn that almost the entire preface had been lifted from the website of an American university without acknowledgement. When confronted, the professor seemed to not realise the gravity of what he had done.”

This question could well be put to the present Delhi University vice chancellor Prof Yogesh Singh whether he understands the gravity of misconduct which the committee which penned the document has committed. Justifications by the registrarthat level of plagiarism was below the acceptable 10 percent is a very atrocious statement to make.

The National Education Policy 2020, seeks to promote a pedagogy based on the Indian Knowledge System (IKS). This thought is based on the need to undo the undue western influence on our education system. The inspiration comes from our rich heritage of cerebral tomes starting from the Vedas and travelling through the centuries before the arrival of the British.

It’s ironic that a document is drafted by India’s most eminent university to implement the NEP 2020 over the next 25 years is itself copied from the western universities. The reproach of this academic delinquency should be applauded by the university establishment rather than make attempts of gagging disapproval by making rules to censure employees who would attempt criticism.As the retiring Supreme Court judge Sanjay Kishan Kaul said that judiciary should be bold, so should be academia.

Sidharth Mishra
Author and president, Centre for Reforms,Development & Justice

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