Delhi University’s academic council convened on Wednesday to talk about the university’s 25-year strategic plan. This 52-page paper, on the other hand, was riddled with instances of plagiarism from comparable publications from other colleges throughout the world, provoking heated resistance from council members and forcing the blueprint to be sent to a committee for revision.
The paper was withdrawn by the university’s registrar, Vikas Gupta, to be rewritten by the committee that created it, and plagiarism was confined to 8% of the text.
“Only 8% of the document was plagiarized, according to committee members.” “However, we will return the document to the committee for revision,” Gupta added.
According to a statement from the Vice-Chancellor’s office, the V-C would evaluate the concerns raised by the members. “The Vice-Chancellor said that linguists and editors will also be included in the committee to look into the linguistic nuances of the draft,” according to the press release.
The chairwoman of the committee did not reply to calls for comment.
The claims of plagiarism are not the first time the Delhi University Strategic Plan (2022-2047) has been criticized. It was brought to the executive council for approval in June, but it was returned for modifications after several academics criticized it as a “clear blueprint for privatisation and contractualisation.”
Academic council members argued that the plan needs to be rewritten with Indian contexts included. Vikas Gupta, an AC member, highlighted that the draft does not mention concepts of secularism, reservation, or the term minorities. “The term Dalit figures only once and that too in connection with indigenous knowledge. The term caste has been used only once, while this continues to be the most important social phenomenon of our personal and public life to reckon with,” he added.
Mithuraaj Dhusiya, another member of DU’s academic council, said: “It began with a discussion on the plagiarism because if we cannot write our own document, what does that say about the university? However, since we were there, we went ahead to discuss the document and highlighted the fact that there are no mentions of funding.”
The academic council members pointed out and published several papers that seemed to include passages that were allegedly plagiarized. These texts were taken from Ohio State University and University of Sheffield publications.
For instance, the vision and strategic plan page on University of Sheffield’s website reads, “Our motto “Rerum Cognoscere Causas” (to discover the causes of things), is as relevant today as when we were founded in 1905. However, the world is now a very different place. As the world has evolved, so have we. As we have grown, so have our ambitions. Now we don’t just want to understand the world, we want to change it. We believe in bold action and are unified in the knowledge that we can transform the world we live in for the better.” This same paragraph figures verbatim on DU’s strategic plan, with only the motto changed to “Nistha Dhriti Satyam” instead of “Rerum Cognoscere Causas”.
The Democratic Teachers’ Front compiled a list of such lifted paragraphs, claiming that they were also lifted from documents by Piedmont Technical College, Friends College Kaimosi, Kenya, University of Science & Technology, Meghalaya, IGNOU course material, and a paragraph from a blog on the UNESCO website.
A second alleged example they cited was a plan from Friends College Kaimosi in Kenya, which stated: “The University needs to continue with Research and Development Programmes in order to improve the current status through innovations, collect and act on feedback from interested parties, and explore new frontiers of Science, Technology, and Innovation.” For new information to be valuable, research must be conducted and distributed to the appropriate people.”
A dissenting letter signed by six members of the AC stated: “Plucked out of local needs and realities, the proposed strategic plan fails to actually keep up the University’s prevailing problems challenges, long-standing issues, and advantages at the centre of the agenda setting for the next 25 years.”
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