Sambalpur ex-VC criticized for ‘plagiarism’ blog

Former Sambalpur University vice-chancellor Arun Pujari’s March 10 blog alleging largescale plagiarism in PhD thesis across varsity departments has evoked sharp reactions from various quarters. The allegations were first reported in TOI on March 27.

DOST, a social service organization of students in Sambalpur, sent a memorandum to governor M C Bhandare and chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday, seeking an investigation into Pujari’s charges.

“If Pujari is correct then cores of rupees were being siphoned off in the name of research in the university. As Pujari has pointed out, the matter was placed before the Syndicate but the members showed no interest to address the issue. This must be probed,” the memorandum said.

DOST president Dr Sanjeeb Mishra said persons involved in such activities must be punished to promote genuine researchers. Notably, Sambalpur Citizens’ Forum had demanded an inquiry into the matter on March 26.

Syndicate member Karunakar Supakar said he did not remember Pujari raising the issue of plagiarism in the Syndicate ever. “I don’t think Pujari raised such an issue during his tenure. He should desist from poking his nose in varsity matters now after he has left,” Supakar said.

Condemning Pujari for his “attempt to tarnish the varsity image”, the university students’ union said in a statement he did not do anything substantial for the development of the university during his three-year tenure between 2008 and 2011, but now he is trying to ruin the varsity image. “We have urged the varsity administration not to associate Pujari in any activities of the university,” said union president Punyamurthy Christdas.

Pujari, in another post on his blog, described the reactions as sad and unfortunate. “Writing about plagiarism was aimed at initiating a debate, not to hurt anyone. But some friends have taken it otherwise. It is unfortunate,” he wrote in the write-up ‘Sad and Unfortunate’, as a sequel to his earlier post of ‘Plagiarism and Jyotivihar’ on his blog Describing his writing as a private work, Pujari described that the medium of blog is “privately public and publicly private”. It is meant for exchange of opinion and consultation among a limited group of people, he added.

Pujari suggested that an impartial debate should start on plagiarism. “Are we conscious of plagiarism? Is it acceptable or deplorable? What is the mechanism to know? These things should be analyzed and remedial steps should be taken,” he wrote.

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