Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mashelkar does the right thing

He has withdrawn the Mashelkar Committee report that has been at the centre of controversy.

In their report in the HIndu, Ravi Sharma and Sara Hiddleston state that "the committee has requested three months to re-examine and resubmit the report." Their report also addresses the plagiarism angle:

According to Dr. Mashelkar, it was only after the committee had submitted its report that it came to their notice through newspaper articles that some plagiarism had occurred: "We have identified eight to ten lines that have been extracted verbatim from Basheer's paper. As a scientist I see this as not a good practice. In keeping with the highest and best ethical practices we want to withdraw the report."

However, a 'subgroup' is being blamed for it:

Dr. Mashelkar termed it "very unfortunate" and expressed the opinion that the "technical inaccuracy" could have happened when the report was being "drafted by a sub group."

Here's the ToI report by Manoj Mitta:

But he blamed "a drafting sub-group" for the lapses. "These were unfortunately not detected in time and, therefore, not corrected," Mashelkar claimed, in his letter written after consulting the other technical experts in the committee.

And finally, Pallava Bagla reports in the Indian Express:

“I am broken-hearted at being let down so badly,” an emotional Mashelkar told The Indian Express. “This is the first time such a thing has happened.” He said that a new report will be submitted in three months that will follow the “best ethical practices.”

“Being a scientist, I am so fussy about attributions but in the rush of the last working day, a slip did happen and I deeply regret it,” he said. He said he offered his “unconditional apologies for the inconvenience that has been caused to the Government” and that he took “full responsibility for this unfortunate development.”


  1. Raj said...

    Reading the report of The Hindu, I thought to myself that from atop his high moral pedestal, Mashelkar has said that 'highest ethical practices' make him withdraw the report. When you or your team member are caught plagiarising ( a few lines, a few paras or an entire page)you better own up and withdraw. Why the pomposity about 'highest ethical practice"?

    But I am happy to see the TOI report that you have cited, where he has offered unconditional apologies and has been man enough to take responsibility for the incident, instead of taking shelter in 'editorial lapses' etc.

  2. Anonymous said...

    I don't think Mashelkar can assume that he is allowed to file a second report. After submission, the report belongs to the Government which should decide what to do next. In the interests of the general public, this incompetent and careless committee should not be asked to re-write the report. Plagiarism is a very serious matter, and this issue is of national importance.

  3. Unknown said...

    I think there is far more at stake here than the issue of plagiarism. The point is that the committee with Mashelkar as head
    submitted a report in which a (or is it the?) crucial recommendation is taken from
    a paper written under the sponsorship of
    an industry (add also big, multinational) lobby. This lobby has a particular stake in settling in one particular way the question which the Mashelkar committe was asked to investigate in a scientific and presumably impartial manner.

    The outcome of this recommendation of the commitee could also have substantial repercussions on how much Indians pay for medicines and drugs, and in particular how unaffordable these prices
    could become for a substantial section of the population.

    There is far more at stake here than plagiarism and Mashelkar's response here is pathetic. The other worthies on the committee had also better come up with some explanations.