Aryabhatta College Principal accused of plagiarism by a whistle-blower, DUTA demands an independent probe.
The presence of plagiarism in University level publications has been a concern of the academic community for a long time now. The vice has now hit a reputed University of Delhi when in recent turn of events, the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University of Delhi (DU) received a complaint through a whistle-blower, accusing the Principal of Aryabhatta College, South Campus, DU, of plagiarising journal papers and books, six months before applying for the post he currently holds.
This series of events started in 2014, when Aryabhatta College principal Manoj Sinha published five books and 11 journal papers, eight of which and four other works are said to be ‘heavily plagiarised’, casting a shadow of doubt over the authenticity of his work and even employment. According to the complainant, six of these claims have been verified. Apart from this, the complainant has also highlighted the publishing of the same material at two independent places in an attempt by Mr Sinha to take credit for it twice. It is imperative to note that Sinha is also the Secretary of the Delhi University Principals’ Association.
The complainant seems to have used the plagiarism checking software ‘Turnitin’ for this investigation. Last year, Union Minister for the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), Prakash Javadekar, had made this software available to universities to enable them in checking the credibility of texts.
In response to these accusations, the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), which also received a 243-page dossier detailing the allegations, has made a demand for an independent probe into the matter as of June 25th.
According to the University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations notified in July last year (Promotion of Academic Integrity and Prevention of Plagiarism in Higher Educational Institutions), the penalty for plagiarising above 60% of an academic publication would invite withdrawal of the manuscript, denial of two successive annual increments, a barring from supervising any new master’s or Ph.D scholars for a period of three years, and if benefit has been obtained from plagiarised works but proved on a later date, the benefit would be put in abeyance for a period recommended by the Institutional Academic Integrity Panel.
The UGC has prescribed that the “Academic Performance Indicator” or API of a candidate be looked into critically, for their appointments to the posts of Principal across varsities. These are points allocated to an applicant on the basis of factors such as the number of teaching hours put in, extracurricular activities engaged in and the number of books and research papers published. The system is meant to help incorporate a “transparent, objective and credible methodology of analysis of the merits and credentials of the applicant” read the UGC’s guidelines from 2013. To be eligible for the post of principal, a candidate requires a minimum API of 400 points. Mr Sinha, in an application to the post of Principal to the prestigious Hindu College in 2017, has bagged a score of 660, out of which more than 120 points have been allegedly secured to him by six ‘plagiarised’ texts, reports The Hindu.
A case like this defeats the university’s ideology of innovation and originality.
Under conditions of anonymity, a student of Aryabhatta College said, “Even though there is no decision in the case, I believe if these accusations are proved accurate, it will be very shameful for the college and the university.”
Defending his case, Mr. Sinha, who has been teaching for 29 years and is up for reappointment for another five-year term as principal of the college on November 22, told The Hindu that the plagiarism may have taken place inadvertently given the immense pressure during years of syllabus revisions to churn out textbooks in time for students to have study material.
Another anonymous student of Aryabhatta College told the DU Beat, “The credibility of these accusations is yet to be checked but this sets a very wrong example for the students as well as stains the reputation of the teaching faculty.”
The complaint if proven credible and the accused proven guilty, is deemed to open many Pandora boxes, putting numerous previous appointments under the scanner.
Image Credits: Manoj Sinha (@msinhadu) on Twitter