January 23, 2005

Pardhis, plagiarism and pomegranates

Especially since I have just met a number of Pardhis and just written about them, a note about plagiarism.

In 1998-99, I had a fellowship to write about Pardhis and other such tribes ("denotified" tribes). That effort culminated in my book Branded by Law; but before the book, I wrote a number of articles on denotified tribes.

Over the years, I've found some of my stories repeated by other journalists/writers without any mention of me. Two samples, by the same person:

One of my stories was about a woman I met who told me her husband stole two pomegranates for her and was stoned to death for his trouble (yes). The copier used the woman's name as her husband's (yes), but otherwise wrote the story as if theirs. Another was a Pardhi trick a police constable in Satara explained to me, about how they would use a wet piece of biscuit as simulated vomit to distract a bus passenger and steal his purse. The copier decided to say the Pardhis chew the biscuit and spit it out in "turd-like" shapes, but otherwise wrote the story as if theirs.

There seem to be people who believe that they can rewrite what others have written and pass it off as their own, without a mention of the original author. Furthers their careers, no doubt: the copier I mention above is a "consultant editor" to one of our largest papers.

It's not direct lifting, yet what is it?

The man whom a number of ace bloggers are going after seems, to me, pathologically stupid. He copies pretty much everything he posts. He copies the comments he posts. He copies, and here I mean no offence to any of the plagiarised bloggers, pretty innocuous, ordinary bits of writing -- writing that's not meant to be literature or profound in the first place, but simply thoughtful comment. He does all this so widely, so openly, so foolishly, so naively, that the only explanation that comes to mind is what I said earlier: he's pathologically stupid.

And to me, the sight of a number of savvy, expert, widely-read and widely-quoted people going after this stupid man is less than edifying. Even if what he's doing is reprehensible. There are more subtle ways to expose him and finish off whatever stupid or nefarious things he's up to. My opinion.

1 comment:

Anirudh said...

I was outraged when I first saw what he had done, but on second thoughts I agree with what you say. He is not copying the "ideas" and posting them as his own. He is simply copying the whole posts, as someone mentioned he is more of a reblogger.
However, it appears now that he might be doing this to earn more clicks through Google's Adsense or some similiar program. If that's the case then he has infact only succeeded too well, with the hundreds of hits he might have got because of this controversy. Surely some of them might have clicked on the ads. Any suggestions however on how to tackle him ?