Mona Sarika has been a prolific writer and her articles have appeared in major media vehicles including the online version of the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post and Foreign Policy.
She has written about an admirable variety of subjects ranging from the global Indian and the democratic uprising in Iran to bloggers in Pakistan and the solar eclipse in India.
The problem is that the aforementioned major media vehicles have pulled her work because they say some of it was plagiarised or simply made up.
The Wall Street Journal, the latest to catch on, served up an embarrassed correction online: “ Nov. 10 “New Global Indian” online column by New York City freelance writer Mona Sarika has been found to contain information that was plagiarised from several publications, including the Washington Post, Little India, India Today and San Francisco magazine.”
Among the quotes featured in that article was this one: “What America ‘s basically saying is, ‘We’ve educated you, we’ve trained you, we’ve taught you all about our markets,’ says Vivek Wadhwa, a successful Indian-born tech entrepreneur turned Duke University professor. ‘Now you have to get the hell out of here.’”
In an actual telephonic interview, Wadhwa reacted to the revelation: “It’s curious that I was quoted and I had not done the interview. I didn’t even know who she was.”
Even those who had actually been interviewed by Sarika were often surprised when her work was published.
She contacted Colombo-based blogger Indrajit Samarajiva this summer for an interview for an article titled Uncertainty among Sri Lankan Tamils after The War.
Samarajiva was described as a Tamil despite his repeated protestations that he was really really Sinhalese!
In a genuine email interview with this writer, Samarajiva said, “I was shocked when I read the finished piece. She had prominently identified me as a Tamil (when I clearly said I wasn’t) and made up fairly radical quotes for me. I put some of the other quotes into Google and found that they’d also been plagiarised. I responded to this on my blog and on the HuffPost. Thankfully they pulled the article.”
Attempts to reach Mona Sarika proved fruitless.
In the brief bio in the Wall Street Journal she is described as a “graduate student and freelance writer who hails from India and currently lives in New York City.”
In fact, the basic mistakes she made in her pieces — Samarajiva is Tamil, Jackson Heights is in Brooklyn — make her almost appear to want to be caught as if she were playing a prank on reputed media houses.
At this point, Mona Sarika just appears to be an international woman of mystery.
Though the woman part should probably carry an asterisk with it.