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DU: Big Victory for Teachers as Administration Withdraws Plagiarised Strategic Plan

Ravi Kaushal |
Teachers have asserted that substantial portions of the document were directly copied from international university materials.
A Delhi University Student-Activist Explains why DUSU Election Matters

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New Delhi: Following an uproar in the Academic Council meeting on Wednesday, Delhi University has referred the strategic plan for the next 25 years back to the drafting committee amid allegations of plagiarism and concerns about the commercialisation of the esteemed institution. Teacher groups have asserted that substantial portions of the document were directly copied from international university materials. They contended that the primary goal of the plan was to lead the university towards self-financing, establish its brand identity, and engage in marketing efforts, including a switch to corporate leadership.

The document was found to have lifted sections from the Vision and Strategic Plan of the University of Sheffield, Ohio State University Advancement Strategic Plan 2013-18, Strategic Plan 2022-24 of Piedmont Technical College, and Strategic Plan 2016-21 of Friends College Kaimosi, Kenya, as well as the Vision 2030 statement of the University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya.

Delhi University Vice Chancellor Yogesh Singh stated in a release that editors and linguists would be added to the drafting committee to address linguistic nuances, and he pledged to investigate the plagiarism complaints.

Apart from complaints of plagiarism, the members emphasised that the university's thrust to adopt such a document, proposing an endowment corpus of Rs 100 crore from philanthropists, is pushing it towards privatisation. Vikas Gupta, a professor from the History Department and an Academic Council member, stated that the Vice Chancellor acknowledged the need for further input on an improved draft before the next meeting.

Gupta emphasised, "We dissented against the tabling of the plagiarised Strategic Plan of DU 2022-2047 on the grounds that it is not simply a technical matter of the degree of plagiarism. It is apparent that the present draft has not been prepared with sincere original effort."

He added, “The draft does not mention terms like reservation and secularism at all. The term 'dalit' figures only once, and that too in connection with indigenous knowledge. Besides this, 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 further said, “The draft repeatedly talks about collaboration with the industry, but not with the agrarian sector, dairy, and farming to resolve local needs and issues. It nowhere provides for any safeguards against the potential influence of these industrial collaborators on research and curriculum in Delhi University, which is otherwise an autonomous institution funded so far by the state. The so-called philanthropists, actually investors, will promote their self-interests within the university.”

“It seeks to generate at least Rs 100 crore annually from such donations. It is a roadmap to balance decreasing financial support from the state, which will be available in the form of loans with interest, not conventional grants. The Vice-Chancellor said that there is no dearth of funding by the state. However, he could not answer why the Plan focuses so much on resource generation through collaboration and philanthropy,” noted Gupta.

Monami Sinha, who teaches Economics at Kamla Nehru College, told NewsClick that several members from the administration tried to defend the plagiarism and remained ignorant that the plan would severely affect the students from marginalised communities.

She said, "In spite of DTF members and other members of the house raising their voices against the plagiarised strategic plan, the house went ahead with their discussions on the said document, giving it legitimacy. It is shameful that many department heads justified and defended the plagiarism by illogical arguments such as these: 'If a building like the arts faculty is designed based on the design of a foreign university building, should we demolish the arts faculty?'"

She added, "The double standards are appalling. Just in the previous AC meeting, we were discussing the quality of work of university professors, with DU raising the promotion requirements over and above the UGC regulations to ensure the quality of research, and yet they themselves tabled a plagiarised document, even though we had called their attention to the fact that it was plagiarised the day before, by emailing them a document highlighting all the plagiarised parts, which is pretty much the entire strategic plan."

Mithuraj Dhupiya, who was also present in the meeting, told NewsClick over the phone that it is extremely unfortunate that a plagiarised document has become the foundation of DU's Strategic Plan 2022-47. "Plagiarism in any form is totally unacceptable, and the fact that it is being promoted by the top authorities of DU by tabling it for discussion is absolutely shocking."

Reacting to the development, Abha Dev Habib, former Executive Council member, said, "The University seems to be in such a tearing hurry that it has forced the AC to discuss the same plagiarised 'Revised Strategic Plan (2022-2047).' The VC acknowledged that the document has plagiarism issues but has forced a discussion on the same. While the AC can debate the issue, how can it adopt a Plan for the next 25 years when the document is not before the house in its final form?"

"The policy thrust of NEP is towards privatisation and commercialisation of publicly funded universities. It is being pushed at the University level by subverting statutory bodies,” she alleged.

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