Posts Tagged ‘Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad’

Professor at IIM-A resigns

April 14, 2012

Update 2014! See new post 


There are many comments in support of Prof. Dass  and some in support of Sujoy Pal. But many are rather nasty and merely personal attacks against the one or the other. I have left the last comment with one of Prof. Dass’ students which is rather more compelling than the personal attacks.

But if the allegations against Prof. Dass are largely malicious then it is a great pity that

  1. he resigned, and
  2. that IIM-A has not backed him up and declined to accept his resignation.

IIM-A does not come out of this very well. My tentative conclusion to all this is that IIM-A is still developing its own internal processes and does not really know – yet –  how to handle matters of alleged plagiarism.

There are some parallels with development of internal processes in industry to deal with corruption over the last 15-20 years. Here the mistake made by industry – in my opinion – was to focus on compliance rather than on ethics. A focus therefore on detection and punishment rather than on prevention. There is a risk that Indian Universities are going down the same path with a focus on plagiarism detection rather than on ethics. While the act of “policing” cannot be avoided by organisations the mere mechanical use of software to detect plagiarism is not enough. My own experience is that if ethics can be sound then compliance (or plagiarism) largely become non-issues. The challenge is  how to institutionalise the development of sound ethics in any organisation.

Comments on this subject are now closed.


Professor Rajanish Dass at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad had blamed his co-author, Sujoy Pal (a research associate) for the plagiarism he was found guilty of. Dass has claimed that it was due to “ignorance and not intention” and had taken his case to the Gujarat High Court which had given him a small measure of relief when it had instructed the Institute to take some of his additional responses into account.

But he has now bowed to the inevitable and resigned.

Faculty of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), Rajanish Dass, who had approached the high court after the institute accused him of plagiarism, has chosen to resign from his post at the institute. 

Confirming the resignation, dean of academic affairs at IIM-A, B H Jajoo said, “He left on April 2.”  ……. In its report to IIM-A director Samir Barua on February 3, the committee concluded that allegations against Dass were “valid” and he has resorted to plagiarism in three papers. Confirming his resignation, Dass said, “I submitted my resignation due to health issues on April 2, which was accepted by IIM-A on the same day.” 

Dass has been on medical leave from the institute since the time he had approached HC (the High Court).

Considering that he had resigned 12 days ago and in a rather high profile case, it is a little surprising that the Institute did not have the courage to come out with the news of his resignation immediately. It suggests that they have not yet seen the advantages of transparency and that some are perhaps still hoping that the plagiarism issues cropping up at IIM-A will merely go away.

Some students at IIM-A have also accused Dass  – anonymously – of having outsourced his own thesis to students at Jadavpur University.

Plagiarism epidemic at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad as 5 more Professors are accused

March 29, 2012


Prof. Sebastian Morris has commented and his comment is reproduced in full below.

He refers to this follow-up article – where he is  quoted as saying:

“Plagiarism is an academic matter best judged by academic peers. Plagiarism can be of ideas and expression and not of facts except when they are facts that emerge out of particular research. Publicly available facts, and government policy statements when the source is revealed cannot be construed as plagiarism.”

But I would take issue with this statement on two counts:

  1. it may be comfortable to be “judged” solely by academic peers but that does not work. The Wikiplag site in Germany emphasises the need to get out of the “cozy” establishment environment. So far Wikiplag has found some 20 cases of plagiarised theses which have been missed by the usual “academic peers”
  2. Merely revealing a source is insufficient – it needs to be properly cited even if the source is as mundane as a government policy document.
Even if documents are in the public domain, improper attribution or citation is plagiarism. And if such documents are copyright protected then reproduction could be copyright violation as well.


A case of when the dam breaks perhaps. There seems to be an epidemic of plagiarism at IIM-A.

A reader pointed me to this story in the Ahmedabad Mirror:

A fortnight after Gujarat High Court asked IIMA to conduct a fresh inquiry into the case of a professor accused of plagiarism, a fresh controversy is brewing at the premier  institute. 

This time, an executive with a multinational company who also teaches management at a couple of B schools, has accused five senior IIMA professors of “mass copy-pasting” material from sources without crediting them in their cases.

Professor Anil Sharma has shot off a mail to institute’s director Samir Barua citing “serious instances of plagiarism” by professors Rekha Jain, G Raghuram, Rachna Gangwar, Sebastian Morris and Ajay Pandey. ….

…. The IIMs follow guidelines prepared by Harvard Business School and the American Psychological Association, which say that whenever there is sourcing, verbatim or otherwise, the source has to be cited adequately. Interestingly, the institute has a specialised internet-based software to cross-check research work submitted by students and alerts faculty to plagiarised portions, if any.

Even IIM Indore Director N Ravichandran, a former IIMA professor, has been asked by the Centre to respond to an accusation of plagiarism against him. Prof Ravichandran and a senior faculty member of the institute, Omkar D Palsule-Desai, had submitted a paper on euthanasia that was put up on the IIM website with a “Do not copy or reproduce” warning. Ahmedabad-based researcher K R Narendrababu has complained that the paper was sourced heavily from a Supreme Court judgment without adequate attribution.

A committee of inquiry seems to have been constituted for the earlier case of plagiarism but it is not clear if these cases will also be included.

Japan Colloquium: Lessons for crises management

July 24, 2011

I was recently invited to write a contribution for a Japan Colloquium for the Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad.

My contribution entitled ” Sound judgements must not be stifled by Crisis Management Protocols” appears in Japan’s Tragedy and Aftermath: Lessons for Crises Management, Vikalpa, Volume 36, No.2, April – June 2011, pages 81 – 118.

Sound Judgments Must Not be Stifled by Crisis Management Protocols – Vikalpa June 2011

The story is told that at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, the three reactors in operation began an orderly shutdown when the Great Tohoku quake of 2011 struck, even though the magnitude at 9.0 was significantly higher than the 8.3, the plant was designed for. But when the tsunami wave rolled in and all the 13 back-up diesel generators and all the emergency cooling pumps were knocked out, then an unprecedented and unforeseen chain of events was set in motion. It is said that the site management quickly came to the conclusion that sea water cooling was necessary even though this would render the reactors permanently inoperable. But it took a further eight hours for the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) management in Tokyo to agree. In the event the meltdown of the fuel rods may have been unavoidable in any case but an additional eight hours of cooling with sea water could not have hurt. A similar story is told about Hurricane Katrina where an operating engineer had the possibility of opening some valves and preventing flooding of some areas of New Orleans but did not do so because such a decision was explicitly excluded from his authority and his superiors were unreachable.

The question that arises is whether the culture of an organization helps or hinders individual managers to make judgments at times of crisis or impending disaster? Should the site manager at Fukushima or the operating engineer in New Orleans have had to wait for higher authority as they did or should the organizational culture have permitted him to bypass the chain of command? ……

The “goodness” of a judgment can only be assessed long after the judgment itself and therefore it is the soundness of judgment which must be sought rather than the intangible goodness of a future result. But a sound judgment must also be consummated by the willingness to exercise it. 

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