India seems to be the place for the best of both the saints and the scoundrels. Shekhar Gupta, the former editor of Indian Express has now been caught in a plagiarism scandal. To give a background of the issue, here is a description of the original work followed by the plagiarized version of Shekhar Gupta and Ila Patnaik of Print web portal. Shekhar Gupta is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Print.in.
The Original article in 2017
In a 2017 Sunday Guardian article, Arvind Kumar, an IISc alumnus, first connected the dots for the yearly phenomenon of smoke cover over Delhi making Delhi virtually into a gas chamber for several days in November.
The author came up with the analysis that the laws in Punjab and Haryana delaying the planting of rice ostensibly to save the groundwater, led to the delayed stubble burning in the two states as the culprit for Delhi November smog. These laws were passed in 2009 and in turn, led to the smoke from these two states being carried to Delhi in November. Before the laws were passed, the smoke did not travel to Delhi as the burning was completed in late September and early October when the winds had not started blowing southwards after the monsoon.
In 1999, the career of V N Narayanan, the editor of the Hindustan Times, ended after he was caught plagiarizing from a British journalist.
This analysis in the Sunday Guardian article was stunning, to say the least and even a scientist at NASA admitted in a tweet on the same day the article was published in Dec 2017, that they did not know why satellites detected more fires in Punjab only after 2009. The thought process behind this analysis connecting policy changes, wind direction and the smoke in Delhi had to be unique and there must have also been a tremendous amount of hard work in gathering the data.
NASA Scientist’s tweet
The NASA scientist’s tweet along with the pursuant exchange with the NASA scientist was part of the second article by Arvind in Sunday Guardian which was published in 2018. This article provided some more persuasive analysis for the period between 2006 and 2009 strengthening the claim that the post-monsoon winds were carrying the smoke to Delhi.
The Grand Theft
Instead of appreciating this kind of analysis, Shekhar Gupta and his writers have indulged in a grand theft of ideas of the worst kind and attempted to pass it off as their own. Anyone can watch his recent YouTube video ‘Cut the Clutter‘ published on Nov 1, 2019 (from the 6th minute) and see that he makes the same claims as Sunday Guardian articles as though they are his analysis. He mentions a two-week-old article in his Print magazine by Ila Patnaik, the former Principal Economic Advisor to the Government of India during the UPA rule. That article is a shameful example of plagiarism and reading them side by side with the two Sunday Guardian articles will show that she meets the Press Council of India’s definition of a plagiarist. According to the Press Council, we see under the section with the title “Plagiarism”, the statement, “Using or passing off the writings or ideas as one’s own without crediting the source, is an offence against ethics of journalism.”
The problem of plagiarism is a rampant one that plagues Indian journalism and Shekhar Gupta has proven that he is just another cheap plagiarist who is responsible for the poor state of the Indian media. In 1999, the career of V N Narayanan, the editor of the Hindustan Times, ended after he was caught plagiarizing from a British journalist. Shekhar Gupta deserves the same fate and his presence in the media is a shameful reminder of the sad state of the Indian system in which people of mediocre abilities like him and Ila Patnaik rise to the top of the system while bright people with extraordinary talent and ability languish outside the system with very little opportunities to express themselves.
Today, Shekar Gupta revels in the glory in the form of hundreds of comments extolling his insight as seen in the comments section of his YouTube video. This is nothing but stolen glory on his part and the part of Ila Patnaik. Shame on them. Would it not be safe to assume that this method has been the standard operating procedure for Shekhar Gupta and his career is built upon stealing ideas from others and passing them off as his own?
I have personally known Arvind Kumar’s work and this is not the first time someone has taken credit for his work. He has been victimized repeatedly and shunned by others envious of his work and rarely even gets invited for conferences and seminars. As a result, he works in isolation without access to resources available to the larger organizations that are part of the system, but his output is far greater quality than the output of the mediocre people and organizations who boycott him and scheme to bring him down behind his back.
System needs to be cleaned up
If the system in India is to be cleaned up, those who have advanced their careers by suppressing others, worse even stealing others’ work, must be replaced with selfless people who are really talented. We need to clean the system by ending the careers of Shekhar Gupta and Ila Patnaik. For now, let us go to the site of the YouTube video and expose the plagiarism by flooding the comments section with what appears to be Shekhar Gupta’s business model – plagiarizing ideas and passing them off as his own.
- Dec 30, 2017 article by Arvind Kumar in Sunday Guardian, “Law aiding Monsanto is reason for Delhi’s annual smoke season”, gave the first clue to the reasons behind November Delhi smog when no one had any clue.
- Dec 30, 2017, Hiren Jethva, a NASA scientist tweeted about the article on the same day it was published in Sunday Guardian, stating now he understands why satellites detected more fires in November post-2009 over Punjab.
- Nov 3, 2018, second article by Arvind Kumar in Sunday Guardian, “Monsanto profits, not Diwali’ creating smoke in Delhi”, with more insights to causes that lead to Delhi smog.
- Oct 18, 2019, Shekhar Gupta owned ‘The Print’ magazine publishes an article by Ila Patnaik, passing the analysis of Arvind Kumar as their own ‘This is the real culprit behind Delhi’s poisonous Diwali air and PM Modi has a fix for it”
- Nov 1, 2019, plagiarist Shekhar Gupta of The Print in his Youtube video program, ‘Cut the Clutter’, starting from 6th minute makes Arvind Kumar’s earlier findings as those of Ila Patnaik’s article published in his own ‘The Print’ magazine (of which he is the Founder and the Editor-in-Chief)
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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