Skip to main content

How an erudite scholar seeking to expose plagiarism became victim of vested interests

Veer Kunwar University, Arrah; Amrendra Narayan
By Peehu Pardeshi, Sandeep Pandey*
It is unusual for a bright young scholar like Amrendra Narayan, with a PhD in Nuclear Physics from Mississippi State University, preceded and followed by research stints at Indian Institutes of Technology at Kanpur and Mumbai, respectively, to go and work at a relatively little known Veer Kunwar Singh University in a small town Arrah of Bihar near his native place.
His own family and friends would have probably dissuaded him from going to Arrah and for good reasons. After working there for three years he was physically assaulted on campus on August 13, 2020, by one Vivek Kumar alias Jitendra Pandey, who hangs around in the University without any formal affiliation there.
It appears that a section of people with the University were not happy with the reforms that Amrendra was trying to bring about in the prevalent ‘academic’ culture there. Using his technological capabilities, the University created a Computer Centre facility for computerized result preparation saving crores of rupees and freeing it from the clutches of private agencies and from external and internal manipulation.
His biggest attack was on plagiarism. He introduced software to detect plagiarism which made it difficult to obtain an easy PhD from the University. In his attempt to rid the system of higher education of the malpractices and corruption by strictly implementing the University Grants Commission norms, he shook the entire set up.
The Vice Chancellor was supportive of his efforts in the beginning because of which Amrendra was able to accomplish a number of things. But after the assault incident, the VC has decided to go mum.
The scenario at University in Arrah is not an exception. To a lesser and greater extent all the malpractices here can be found in any academic institution in other places too. Using unfair means in examinations is very common and is a collaborative exercise in many places with students, parents, teachers, and management of school or college, education department officials, administrative officers and people’s representatives all colluding.
It is an important factor responsible for fall in quality of education activity at educational institutions. Students of renowned institutions like King George Medical University, Lucknow, and IIT, Banaras Hindu Univeristy, have been caught impersonating for candidates in respective entrance examinations in exchange for money. Incidents of plagiarism have been reported at very reputed institutions too. 
Any intervention to rectify malfunctioning in university is likely to receive a violent pushback as experienced by Amrendra Narayan
Erudite economist Jean Dreze accused IIT Kanpur Associate Professor in Economics, Somesh Kumar Mathur, of having completely copied one of his articles published in "Economic and Political Weekly" when Mathur was a PhD student at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Mathur just added a section to Dreze’s article and published it in another journal in his name. In spite of charges of plagiarism in other works, Mathur continues to serve the IIT Kanpur. 
Jean Dreze
What is probably a rarity at IIT is a common practice at universities like the Veer Kunwar Singh. Dishonesty in research and teaching is rampant. The practice perpetuates from one generation to another. Any intervention to rectify the malfunctioning is likely to receive a violent pushback as experienced by Amrendra Narayan.
Campus violence is also not uncommon. From carrying the feudal-casteist disputes from the rural hinterland to academic campuses, clashes between student groups more for asserting their dominance than for any ideological reasons, giving vent to their frustration against any attempt to discipline them by indulging in vandalism have been common incidences.
Banaras Hindu University at Varanasi closing down sine die after campus violence was an expected annual event before the University decided to ban students union elections. This January we have seen masked gang going on rampage in JNU campus. A rowdy group forcibly entered the Gargi College in Delhi in February and molested girl students in a shameful act.
Most of our institutions of higher learning have no pretensions of being the ideal centres of learning and scholarship. In spite of high numbers involved in higher education India has a poor record in research. It is no surprise that no scholar working in an Indian institution has received a Nobel prize till date. The quality of research also reflects in the economy. The manufacturing in India is highly dependent on foreign designs and imported materials and products.
China has infiltrated the Indian market to such an extent that in spite of our wish to boycott Chinese goods because of its infringement of Indian territory we’re unable to do so. The Prime Minister may dream of an Atmanirbhar Bharat, the fact is we cannot do without external help, whether of finance or technology. A recent trend is even governments hire foreign consultants to advise them on matters of domestic policy.
It is quite clear that India has not taken its education seriously. Education is a ritual to be completed for upward social and economic mobility. The ultimate objective is to possess a degree irrespective of any capability acquired through the process of education. The more smart among the educated use their knowledge or skills to make money for themselves, legally or illegally.
Corruption in India is a product of the educated. Education is disconnected from social reality and does not even attempt to solve the real problems of our country. Corruption, violence and mediocrity are endemic to Indian education system. The system is deeply entrenched intertwined with powerful vested interests.
However, if the policy makers want an overhaul of the education system, as is desired in the recently released New Education Policy, the reality would have to be confronted. Some people will have to stem the rot. This will definitely involve risks as Amrendra’s example has shown. But the wider society and at least the intellectual academic community will have to support persons who attempt to reform the system and not abandon them.
---
*Peehu Pardeshi is Assistant Professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai; Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay award winning social activist, is Vice President, Socialist Party (India)

Comments

Unknown said…
court orders for this case makes the plagiarism allegations all concoted, null and void

TRENDING

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Women innovators on simple, revolutionary alternate solutions for water problems

By Proshakha Maitra, Mansee Bal Bhargava* The detrimental effects of uncontrolled population rise and accelerated change in the global climate have posed tremendous pressure on the water and sanitation. This calls all stakeholders, from both developed and developing nations, to improve their resilience and to instigate sustainability. It is more crucial than ever to optimise the use of the resources we have on hand since the world population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Crusader for people’s causes, this Hollywood actor entered 'unexplored zones' in US

By Harsh Thakor*  Marlon Brando on April 3rd completes his birth centenary. He perished in 2004, on July 1, aged 80 years. Arguably in Hollywood Brando penetrated sensitivity and versatility at an unparalleled scale and discovered new horizons or explored path breaking zones in acting.

Nuclear power expansion: Is AEC's new, 'unrealistic' target fully backed by PMO?

By Shankar Sharma*  Another unrealistic and tall claim by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) has been announced: India is eyeing 100 GW nuclear power by 2047, the AEC chairman  AK Mohanty   has said. A few years ago, the dream target for the Indian nuclear establishment was 275,000 MWe of nuclear power by 2050 (as per DAE document of 2008 "A Strategy for the Growth of Electricity in India”). Now this target of 100 GW nuclear power by 2047. And as at the end of February 2024, the actual nuclear power capacity was only 7,480 MWe, which formed only 1.7% of the total power capacity in the country. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

How huge crowd at Mukhtar Ansari funeral is comparable to BJP's 'people's court' talk

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The massive crowd at the funeral of Mukhtar Ansari in Mohammadabad reflects the power and influence that his family wields in the area. One can't deny that he had enormous power in Ghazipur and Mau districts. But the crowd that came and chanted slogans in his favour does not exonerate him of his conviction by the court.  It is important that we understand this.