Wednesday, February 28, 2007

ToI digs up some more dirt on Mashelkar

Manoj Mitta of ToI has unearthed some seriously damaging stuff: plagiarism in a book co-authored by Mashelkar. The book -- Intellectual Property and Competitive Strategies in the 21st Century -- was published in 2004.

... [The book] bore striking similarities with a 1996 paper (see table) brought out by a British IP expert, Graham Dutfield, who took objection to it as he was given no credit.

What's more, those similarities are in a chapter dealing with traditional knowledge, an aspect of intellectual property that Mashelkar himself is said to have worked on extensively to protect India's heritage during his 11-year tenure as head of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.

Mitta interviewed Graham Dutfield; in his version of this story, he was told (not by Mashelkar, but by his coauthor Shahid Alikhan) that "the actual plagiarism was done not by Mashelkar but by one of his researchers." In other words, some parts of the book were ghost-written.

Mitta's story ends with these quotes from Dutfield:

Dutfield on his part is disappointed that Mashelkar himself never bothered to call and acknowledge the violation of his copyright. "I guess, I was not important enough to Mashelkar, or this issue was not deemed important enough for him to apologise to me directly".

Given his own experience, how does he see the controversy surrounding the withdrawal of the latest Mashelkar committee report?

Dutfield said: "I don't want to brand Mashelkar as a plagiarist, at least until there is more evidence than we have. But what I would say is that he is sloppy and irresponsible in the sense of using ghost writers to do his work for him, not checking what is published in his name, and of then blaming these people when it goes wrong".

Graham Dutfield's web page is here. And I also found a blog post about a recent debate on pharmaceutical IPRs; the debate covers, among other things, Novartis' on-going lawsuit against certain provisions in India's patent laws as well as the controversial report of the Mashelkar panel. Interestingly, Dutfield was one of the participants in the debate, and here is a curious little piece of trivia:

Noehrenberg cited a new report from India referred to as the Mashelkar report (named for a controversial Indian scientist who headed it) that purported to lend support to the importance of the patent system for developing countries. That report was withdrawn last week by the author for technical errors and plagiarism. Dutfield said the researcher who identified the plagiarism was one of his students. [bold emphasis added]

It's a small world, isn't it?


  1. Anonymous said...

    Judging by recent reports, it looks like Mashelkar has fallen afoul of both disgruntled scientists and the left agenda re patents.

    That said, apart from bringing attention to patents, Mashelskar (and on the opposite spectrum Vandana Shiva)has used it for a vast degree of self-promotion. Besides, most CSIR patents are badly drafted and worth nothing - the numbers do not mean anything.

    Everyone has been pretty much copying/paraphrasing/quoting Dutfield - he's one of the best sources for IP and traditional knowledge. Not to acknowledge that is shoddy indeed.