Seven acclaimed academicians from across the globe have urged IIT Guwahati to ‘compel’ Northeast Now to apologize and take down a news report which highlighted serious allegations of plagiarism against Prof Arupjyoti Saikia.
The seven academicians wrote to Prof. T. G. Sitharam, Director of IIT Guwahati, and said they would like to register “strong condemnation” of a “defamatory write-up” against Prof. Arupjyoti Saikia by Northeast Now.
Northeast Now on April 6 had reported that Sanghamitra Misra, who teaches history in Delhi University, in her review of Saikia’s book The Unquiet River published in The Book Review recently, had pointed to numerous specific instances of replication without attribution – in other words, plagiarism – by Prof. Saikia from the unpublished works of former JNU scholar Ritupan Goswami, who is now missing.
The seven academicians are:
- Prof. Mahesh Rangarajan, Professor of Environmental Studies and History at Ashoka University, India.
- Prof. James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science, Anthropology, and Environmental Studies. Founder and Co-Director of the Program in Agrarian Studies Yale University, New Haven, USA
- Prof. Sunil Amrith, Mehra Family Professor of South Asian History, Harvard University, USA
- Prof. Ramachandra Guha, Satish Dhawan Visiting Professor, Centre for Society and Policy, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
- Prof. Prasenjit Duara, Oscar Tang Professor of East Asian Studies President, Association for Asian Studies 2019-2020 Director, Global Asia Initiative, Duke University
- Dr Rohan D’Souza, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies Kyoto University, Japan
- Prof. K. Sivaramakrishnan, Dinakar Singh Professor of Anthropology; Professor of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University, USA
- Dr. Ling Zhang, Associate Professor, History Department, Boston College, USA.
The seven academicians claimed that the write-up “makes the patently false claim” that Prof. Saikia’s recently published book, The Unquiet River was ‘copied’ from a PhD dissertation that had been submitted at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2010. They have said in their letter that Misra’s review “while offering critical remarks about the arguments in The Unquiet River, however makes no charge of plagiarism”.
Northeast Now stands by its report. We are disappointed that these renowned intellectuals are unwilling to see that Misra’s review talks about:
(a) “the scale and extent of replication of the craft and vision” of Goswami’s work,
(b) the “unacknowledged overlaps” that according to her “permeate and orient almost every chapter of Saikia’s book”,
(c) the “mirroring” of “archives and their interpretation”,
(d) the “unacknowledged summation of Goswami’s extensive research”,
(e) the “brazen reproduction of Goswami’s section on boats”,
(f) the fact that “themes explored in Saikia…are but nuggets of information culled from Goswami’s”,
(g) the “improbity of cloning his research”,
(h) and the fact that “this reproduction refuses to go away and returns in the concluding part of Saikia’s monograph which duplicates the themes of the concluding chapter of Goswami’s dissertation”.
She says that “as with the rest of his work, Saikia bowdlerizes Goswami’s work without due acknowledgement and reproduces these shifts…as his own stellar original contribution to the field.” She mentions that Saikia “paraphrases unabashedly from Goswami’s” work.
If all of this does not amount to charges of copying and plagiarism, then we would like the learned professors who have written the letter asking the IIT Director to muzzle our freedom to report to kindly explain to us what to them is copying and plagiarism. We will be happy to publish their version.
We hope that IIT Guwahati and the Oxford University Press will institute enquiries by independent ethics committees to examine the substance of these serious allegations instead of trying to silence the media for highlighting an important ethical issue in the public interest.To Director_IITG_The Unquiet River