Noted historian Sabyasachi Bhattacharya said he was shocked and deeply hurt to know from the publisher that his book was plagiarised in a translated form by Punjabi University, Patiala.
“A lot of hard work and research goes into writing a book and one doesn’t expect such a treatment,” said the former chairman of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), considered to be an authority on economic history.
Bhattacharya’s book “Aadhunik Bharat Ka Aarthik Itihaas” was published by Delhi-based Rajkamal Prakashan in 1990 after buying its exclusive rights from the author and currently book’s seventh edition is in the market.
As per the Rs 20-lakh lawsuit filed by the publisher against the Punjabi University at Delhi’s Tis Hazari Court last week, the varsity’s publication bureau reproduced its Hindi book in Punjabi under the similar title in 2012. The author of the Punjabi book is SD Gajrani, who died earlier this year, and the book is on sale in violation of the Indian Copyright Act.
Bhattacharya said he didn’t want to take legal course against the university, but he had no objection to publisher’s filing the lawsuit.
He said plagiarism in the academic world was an unfortunate trend and stringent mechanism to check this was the need of the hour.
He said reputed publishers such as Oxford University Press with which he was associated for long get their commissioned books vetted by two external subject experts besides the in-house scrutiny before publication.
“Such checks and balances can stop malpractices in academics,” he told HT over phone from Kolkata.
Varsity’s vetting procedure has holes?
The alleged plagiarism has earned a bad name to the varsity even as the book was cleared by a panel of three experts and then edited by the department of Punjabi development (DPD) faculty.
DPD’s current head Baljeet Kaur Sekhon said it was indeed a serious issue and would be dealt on priority.
Book’s editor Yograj, assistant professor at the department, however, defended himself saying that his job was only to edit the content.
“The person at my level does not have resources and luxury of wide reference knowledge to actually unearth whether the content is original or copied,” he said.