Forget journalistic ethics; in an act of monumental stupidity, the editor-in-chief of India Today, a “premier” Indian magazine, copied some memorable lines from the Slate article on Rajnikanth that’d been forwarded to Everybody’s inbox. Aroon Purie plagiarized the easily-googleable line “If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth.”
(Image from http://www.countermedia.in/?p=225. )
He should have emulated his Deputy Editor, and stuck to plagiarizing from obscure bloggers like me instead.
India Today’s deputy editor, Ms. Damayanti Datta, copied an entire blog post of mine. The paragraphs have been paraphrased in a weak attempt to delay the moment of discovery, but the order of the sentences and ideas is IDENTICAL. The copied article appeared in Nov. 2008 on India Today’s website. I discovered the plagiarism (thanks, Aishwarya!) and immediately wrote to the magazine in April 2009, and I haven’t heard a word back from them to date. Ms. Datta never apologized, the article was never retracted (though India Today was quick to disable comments on the piece), and as far as I know, she was never called to account–she’s still a Deputy Editor at the magazine and continues with her regular column. Moreover, it’d earlier been documented that Ms. Datta had copied a paragraph or two from an article in The Guardian as well; no punitive action was taken then either.
The point of my experience is that plagiarism has long been condoned (and even tacitly encouraged) by the top brass at India Today. Are you really shocked that Aroon Purie passed someone else’s creative effort as his own, when he didn’t call his deputy to account for the same infraction? No, the story here is his idiocy in copying from an easily-identifiable source which possess the means and muscle to sue his ass. (Incidentally, I did speak to a lawyer in India, but he was either unwilling or unable to take on the India Today group, and his promises to action petered out.)
Will Slate take action? I devoutly hope so. India Today’s management has long needed a good bitchslap, and I’ll be cheering from the first row if and when it happens.
Visit countermedia.in for more details about this incident, including another line about Jackie Chan that Mr. Purie saw fit to appropriate.