India’s left-leaning journalists aren’t exactly known to be competent, truthful or honest, but now they also seem be committing one of the cardinal sins of journalism.
Columnist Swati Chaturvedi has been accused of plagiarism by Zia Haq, who is as Associate Editor at Hindustan Times. Haq today shared two paragraphs from two articles, one which had been published five days ago and was written by him, and the other from an article published yesterday on NDTV written by Swati Chaturvedi.
There was an uncanny similarity between the two pieces. “”HBS successfully plotted a BJP coup in Arunachal Pradesh, upstaging the Congress. He toppled the Congress, the single largest party in Manipur, stitching up a BJP-led alliance in 2017. He cut political deals leading to a non-Congress government in Meghalaya too. In Nagaland, HBS was instrumental in making rival fronts, the Naga People’s Front and the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party, tie up with the BJP,” Zia Haq had written on 3rd May in an article titled “Assam: The phenomenon called Himanta Biswa Sarma”.
A nearly identitical paragraph appears in Swati Chaturvedi’s piece for NDTV published yesterday titled “Opinion: BJP’s Dilemma As Himanta B Sarma Waits To Be Chief Minister.” “He plotted a coup in Arunachal Pradesh, upstaging the Congress. He toppled the Congress, the single-largest party in Manipur, stitching up a BJP alliance in 2017. His deal-making ensured a BJP government in Meghalaya as well. In Nagaland, Sarma, universally known as “HBS”, was the key figure in the alliance between the Naga People’s Front, the National Democratic Progressive Party and the BJP,” Swati Chaturvedi’s article says.
It appears that Chaturvedi, instead of doing a straight copy-paste, made tiny changes in her article to avoid detection by plagiarism detection software. In the first line, she changed ‘HBS’ to ‘he’; in the third line, she changed ‘cut political deals’ to ‘deal-making’. But it was apparent that she’d copied the entire paragraph from Haq’s piece, not given him any credit, and tried to pass off his work as her own.
This isn’t the first time that Swati Chaturvedi has brought the field of journalism into disrepute. Last year, she’d appeared to participate in a coordinated Twitter campaign in which celebrities had hailed Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray as ‘leader’, just last month, she’d shared an old photo of Amit Shah to imply he was holding a roadshow during the corona pandemic. But while her previous transgressions could’ve been attributed to political bias and incompetence, the latest plagiarism allegation seems to be a straight-up case of fraud.