Monday, January 25, 2010

Oosi Pona Chutney and all that...

Enough has been said about the "outrageous act of plagiarism" by bloggers bigger, older and a zillion times more famous than me. In any case, though Chutney was well within her rights to do whatever she did (which she did quite rightly too, IMHO), I don't want to add more publicity to an already oversized issue.
Nevertheless, I was particularly perturbed by one specific aspect of the plagiarizer's mindset, which, I believe, is more pressing than the actual act of plagiarism per se.

I am shooting my mouth off here (as is wont of me), but I think it's time we Indians admitted that the average creativity of our population ends waaay lower than the supremely creative beings we've been known to produce. Which obviously implies that a large number of us are quite non-creative souls when it concerns intellectual output, but compensate for this via our creative methods of copying/ripping off stuff - be it Lalit Modi's IPL or Ram Laxman's Mere Rang Mein or Harris Jayaraj's June Pona or Kamal's undoubtedly brilliant Anbe Sivam or yet another term paper which we Indian grad students in the US routinely rip from a zillion sources courtesy Google (is it time to Bing yet?). Well, with regard to what I am trying to say here, the last example might be the most easily-relatable, but with a little creative thinking, you'll realize the others too are.

So then, we must admit we do rip stuff to do usual things. When a desi grad student tries to do a term paper, it's just a term paper. It's not like he's going to send it to IEEE or ACM as part of personal work/research (of course, he'd be screwed mightily enough if he did try to do that, but that's a different issue). So what we understand is that the guy that's doing whatever little/much ripping/plagiarizing is doing so just to get done with some basic requirements. It's not like he seeks some elite glory or recognition for the ripped work. This is also probably an indicator of a bigger problem - the flawed system, but that's beside the point, and besides, a flawed system is, by no means, a valid enough justification for whatever small act of plagiarism a grad student (or anyone else) indulges. But this is....ummm...overlook'able.

Which is where what our dear friend did with Chutney's post is especially condemnable. He picked a winner (that's the creative bit) and plagiarized it (the dumb bit). One read of Chutney's post in question is enough for any half-current_state_of_the_urban_Indian-aware person to realize that the piece is brilliant (though I confess that's definitely not my cup of humour, but this is again irrelevant). The girl is right up there, as far as wit and eloquence of language is concerned and her piece is as original as it is entertaining. The dude who ripped it obviously knew if this was made into a short film, it would definitely make some good noise, and no doubt, enhance his prospects. This is where the Epic Fail bit kicks in. You make use of someone else's work for something to ensure your survival or help you achieve something ordinary - no it isn't acceptable, but it isn't at least condemn-worthy and spit-worthy. But you make use of someone else's creative gift, pass it off as your own AND try to make good mileage of it, even the average desi grad student who used a zillion different journals for his term paper will put his thumbs on his nose at you.
Get Original. Respect Creativity.
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