Saturday, October 23, 2010

Aditya Sinha on India Today's plagiarism

As far as I know, Aditya Sinha, editor-in-chief, The New Indian Express, is the only editor of a major publication to write about Aroon Purie's plagiarism in India Today recently.

An embarrassing silence has recently enveloped the Indian media regarding an act of plagiarism, probably because it’s not been committed by another journalist but by one of our most powerful media moguls, Aroon Purie. In his letter that opens the magazine India Today (but only for the Southern editions), he wrote about Rajnikanth a fortnight ago. One of the memorable lines went: “If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth (sic)”. Unfortunately, this line had already been written by Grady Hendrix and published on the American website Slate. Going by the blogs, what has irritated readers more was his “apology” in the subsequent issue which seemed more like a slap in the face, and in which he blamed the plagiarism on jet-lag. Friends who have worked for Purie say he is one of the sharpest media proprietors in India; if he forsakes humility in his attempt to put the matter behind him, then that’s his business. The real issue is that of rampant plagiarism in India and how it continues to erode the already low credibility of Indian journalism in the public eye.

I think Sinha is wrong to exonerate Purie somewhat, on the grounds that someone else committed the actual plagiarism. If Purie signed under the 'letter', he is responsible.

At any rate, other bloggers, including Niranjana - whose work has also been plagiarised by IT - have blogged about this, and in this case they've been noticed by India Today's Corporate Communications, whose generic comment has been reproduced on every website that noticed the plagiarism.

Grady Hendrix, whose article was plagiarised, has been pretty gracious about Purie's 'apology'. Some people's comments, on the other hand, have mostly taken exception to his understanding of Indian English. As if that was the point. Bah.

But it's good to see a mainstream newspaper take on the issue and contextualise it. Aditya Sinha FTW!


Rahul Siddharthan said...

Why the 'sic' after Rajinikanth? Hendrix gets it right, Sinha gets it wrong. Typical ignorant northie.

That apart, nice hard-hitting article. Good for him.

km said...

From the article:

....most of the 3,000-odd “letters” that have appeared with his signature over the years have been written by staffers.

"Most" of them? Stay classy, Aroon Purie!

BTW, do you or any of your blog's readers know about the plagiarism problem in non-English language newspapers and magazines in India? (And are there any eagle-eyed bloggers watching them?)

//Oh, and will editors and journos please retire the cliches "media mogul" and "media tycoon"?

km said...

Typical ignorant northie.

Well, whaddaya know. I too spelled it the wrong way till I read the Hendrix article :) Somehow "Rajini" just doesn't sound right to the mind's ear.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

km - a Sanskrit purist would of course say "Rajini" is wrong. But so is "Rajni", as A Sinha writes it. It should be "Rajani". Only a Hindi-speaker would think "Rajni" is correct (it is still written "Rajani" in Hindi, but Hindi-speakers swallow their vowels). Hence my comment.

Meanwhile, a quick check would have told Sinha that "Rajini" is the actor's favoured spelling. No doubt it comes from a transliteration of the Hindi "Rajni" into Tamil, followed by its transliteration back into English.

I find the "(sic)" unnecessary a lot of the time -- it only says "see I'm smarter than you, I'm pointing out your mistake". And here it's not a mistake.

km said...

BTW, you called the Express a "mailstream newspaper" in the last graf. Actually sounds cool :)

Space Bar said...

km: sheesh. Changed it, thanks. And re other languages, plagiarism, etc - no idea! fairly sure it must exist though.

Rahul: I couldn't, for the longest while, figure that it was for the "Rajinikanth' part. I kept reading the whole sentence for some weirdness in construction and so on.

Niranjana (Brown Paper) said...

I think I'll send Aditya Sinha a mash note.

JP said...

I have a lot of trouble remembering which variant spelling of a western name a particular person uses: Adrian/Adrien, Ford/Forde, Clare/Claire. Guess that makes me a typical ignorant eastie.