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

'Scientifically flawed': 22 examples of the failure of vaccine passports

By Vratesh Srivastava*   Vaccine passports were introduced in late 2021 in a number of places across the world, with the primary objective of curtailing community spread and inducing "vaccine hesitant" people to get vaccinated, ostensibly to ensure herd immunity. The case for vaccine passports was scientifically flawed and ethically questionable.

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. 

US 'frustrated' with India’s discomfort: Maritime exercise in South China Sea

By Vijay Prashad*  In early April 2024, the navies of four countries -- Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States -- held a maritime exercise in the South China Sea. Australia’s Warramunga, Japan’s Akebono, the Philippines’ Antonio Luna, and the United States’ Mobile worked together in these waters to strengthen their joint abilities and -- as they said in a joint statement  -- to “uphold the right to freedom of navigation and overflight and respect for maritime rights under international law.” 

Dadi, poti discuss 'injustice' under 10 yr Modi rule: Video campaign goes viral

By Our Representative  Watan Ki Raah Mein, a civil society campaign of the Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Abhiyan, has released a short video conversation on social media of an exchange of letters between a dadi and her poti discussing poverty, unemployment, corruption and women’s safety. The letters also raise the question of  suppression of our fundamental rights of speech, expression and justice. 

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.

Right to health and informed consent: Why 'revisit' Mission Indradhanush?

By Deepika*  Extending on to the subject of Misleading ads and acting responsibly , another aspect that needs highlighting is our right to health and to be made aware of quality of products, as pointed out by the Supreme Court.

Indian authorities 'evading' discussion on battery energy storage system

By Shankar Sharma*  In the larger context of the ever growing need and importance of renewable energy sources for a sustainable energy/ electricity sector in our country, the critical role of energy storage systems, especially the battery energy storage system (BESS), is being emphasised frequently at the global level, such as the one by  the International Energy Agency (IEA). Unfortunately, our authorities in India seem not to attach the same level of importance, which the BESS deserves.