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An Apology

Saturday 10 July 2010

On the occasion of Rabindranath Tagore’s 149th birth anniversary on May 9, 2010, an article “Tagore: An Introduction in the West” was published in Mainstream (May 8, 2010). The article, written by Mithun Dey, was sent to us by the author who resides in Bongaigaon, Assam.

Thereafter Diksha Joshi sent us an e-mail. She informed us that she was planning a research on Tagore’s plays in a German university, and disclosed that Mithun Dey’s was a plagiarised piece, lifted from an article written earlier by Sumangali Morhall on the website http://www.poetseers.org/nobel_prize_for_literature/tagore/influences_tagore/ She also sent the whole article through an attachment to buttress her contention.

On careful study, we found that Dey had fully lifted the article from Morhall’s “Rabindranath Tagore: Western Introduction and Influence” from that website. He only deleted the references given at the end of the article.

On the basis of Diksha Joshi’s submission Mainstream approached the contributor who, in a communication, wrote: “……my lapse ….was that I didn’t give reference of the site…” He also quoted from the site: “This article is licensed under a creative commons license. It means you can republish this article on another website as long as all links and biography remain intact and it is not changed in any way.” Mithun Dey further asserted : “…my writings are always my own and original.”

Dey’s reply is totally unconvincing and his assertion has no basis whatsoever. As Diksha Joshi pointed out, “….any writer’s write-up cannot be reproduced illegally in the name of someone else. That will amount to an offence of plagiarism. The site was only telling that in case the article be reproduced, nothing can be changed.... name, reference, citations etc.”

We strongly feel that this is a serious matter and highly objectionable. The contributor is clearly guilty of the charge of plagiarism. Diksha Joshi has suggested “exemplary action” against him by which she means “not just blacking him out, but also cautioning other publications and informing the Press Council and similar bodies”. She further adds: “My attempt is to keep the reputation of a magazine like yours intact and locate those who for easy name and fame choose to be parasites in the writing and journalistic world.”

A similar act of plagiarism was brought to our notice way back in July 1992 by no less a person than Prof Rasheeduddin Khan, the then Director, Indian Institute of Federal Studies, New Delhi, who is no more with us. At that time a contributor had lifted passages from Jawaharlal Nehru’s writings without any acknowledgement whatsoever. We had then too issued an apology to our readers.

We are grateful to Diksha Joshi for having brought to our notice this grave lapse on the part of the contributor in question. We shall explore all avenues to ensure that such a development does not recur.

Besides our readers, we also owe an apology to Sumangali Morhall from whose article Mithun Dey had committed the act of plagiarism.