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All Facts, No Conjecture

Did journalist Samar Halarnkar plagiarise from Frances Lappé’s article for his Hindustan Times column? We bring you the facts.

Newslaundry received an alert from a blogger Akhilesh Mishra alleging plagiarism by journalist Samar Halarnkar. Newslaundry got in touch with Halarnkar and fully assessed both sides of the story, taking into account the allegations and Halarnkar’s defence. This is what we discovered.

The allegation by the blogger was that an article written by Halarnkar, Editor At Large, Hindustan Times, titled ‘Not Much On The Plate’, (April 11, 2012) which appeared in HT http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/Samar/Not-much-on-the-plate/Article1-839106.aspx is plagiarised from an article written by Frances Moore Lappé  http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/food-for-everyone/the-city-that-ended-hunger  published on February 13, 2009 in YES! Magazine. Samar’s article appeared as part of the “Tracking Hunger” series and was a comment on the lessons India can learn from the manner in which hunger and poverty have been dealt with in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

In Samar’s article, he does mention Frances Moore Lappé and her book in the paragraph – “Hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but a scarcity of democracy,” writes Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet (a 1971 bestseller on meat production and global food scarcity). She recently visited Belo and noted how the hunger programme benefited a fourth of the city’s inhabitants and cut the infant death rate by more than half in a decade. Its cost: about Rs. 5,000 crore, no more than 2% of the city’s budget.”

There is NO reference to Lappé’s article – The City that Ended Hunger, which has similar information to that which has appeared in Samar’s article.

After requesting a response from Samar – to the allegation of plagiarism – he has named three sources which he says he has referred to while writing his article. The brochure, press release and article named as reference sources by Samar in his response to us, were published before Samar wrote his article in HT.

1)    Brochure by the World Future Council, Celebrating the Belo Horizonte Food Security Programme, Future Policy Award 2009: Solutions for the Food Crisis.

(Important to note: Frances Lappé became a founding member of the World Future Council in 2007, based in Hamburg, Germany. The specific brochure was printed after November 2009. Frances’ article was published in February 2009.) 

2) Article in www.marketplace.org – ‘Brazil Delivers On Hunger Promise’ http://www.marketplace.org/topics/sustainability/food-9-billion/brazil-delivers-hunger-promise published on April 4, 2012.

3) Press release from the Brazilian government http://www.brasil.gov.br/para/press/press-releases/february/brazil-keeps-inequality-reduction-trend-while-coping-with-the-crisis published on August 4, 2009.

None of these sources were mentioned in the original article which appeared in Hindustan Times under Samar’s byline.

Given below is the extract from Mishra’s blog citing examples of plagiarism. The facts as the Newslaundry Team has found them to be are mentioned in bold after each example cited.

Akhilesh Mishra’s Blog: Samar Halarnkar and Ethics?

Posted September 9, 2012 by Akhilesh Mishra in My Take.

Let us presume there are two people named Samar and Frances.

Below I am going to reproduce, verbatim, some extracts from an article each wrote at different times and in different publications.  The extracts from article by Samar will be followed by extracts from article of Frances.

At present, just compare the two extracts in each exhibit, one by Samar and the other by Frances.

Exhibit 01:

Samar: “In 1993, when 11% of its 2.5 million people lived in absolute poverty and a fifth of Belo’s children went hungry, a newly-elected government declared that food was a fundamental right of every citizen”

Frances: “Belo, a city of 2.5 million people, once had 11 percent of its population living in absolute poverty, and almost 20 percent of its children going hungry. Then in 1993, a newly elected administration declared food a right of citizenship”

The source:


The newly elected mayor of Belo Horizonte, Patrus Ananias, acknowledged his 2.5 million citizens’ right to food and the duty of the government to guarantee this right.

(NEITHER the statistic mentioned by Samar of 11% of the population being in absolutely poverty NOR that of a fifth of Belo’s children being hungry – are mentioned in the brochure. They are ONLY mentioned in Frances Lappé’s article.)

Exhibit 02:

Samar: “These did not remain words. Patrus Ananais, then Belo’s new mayor, created a council of businessmen, church leaders, labour representatives and other citizens to launch the battle against hunger.”

Frances: “The new mayor, Patrus Ananias—now leader of the federal anti-hunger effort—began by creating a city agency, which included assembling a 20-member council of citizen, labor, business, and church representatives to advise in the design and implementation of a new food system.”

The source: http://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/fileadmin/user_upload/PDF/Future_Policy_Award_brochure.pdf

“The newly elected mayor of Belo Horizonte, Patrus Ananias, acknowledged his 2.5 million citizens’ right to food and the duty of the government to guarantee this right. He created a Secretariat for Food Policy and Supply that included a 20 member council of citizens, workers and business leaders from all sectors involved with food, and church representatives to advise in the design and implementation of a new food system.”

Exhibit 03:

Samar: “Local farmers were, and are, given prime public spots to sell their produce to consumers, thus eliminating retail commissions that reached 100%, a situation not unfamiliar to India. The poor got access to cheap food, and farmers, themselves poor, prospered at a time when farm incomes were declining across Brazil.”

Frances: “It offered local family farmers dozens of choice spots of public space on which to sell to urban consumers, essentially redistributing retailer mark-ups on produce—which often reached 100 percent—to consumers and the farmers. Farmers’ profits grew, since there was no wholesaler taking a cut. And poor people got access to fresh, healthy food.”

This quote is only present in Lappé’s article. It is not present in any of the three sources mentioned by Samar.

Exhibit 04:

Samar: “In addition, Belo grants entrepreneurs rights to run, on public land, 34 local retail markets, where the government fixes the price, usually about two-thirds of the market price, for about 20 healthy foods. Other food can be sold at market price.”

Frances: “In addition to the farmer-run stands, the city makes good food available by offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to bid on the right to use well-trafficked plots of city land for “ABC” markets, from the Portuguese acronym for “food at low prices.” Today there are 34 such markets where the city determines a set price—about two-thirds of the market price—of about twenty healthy items, mostly from in-state farmers and chosen by store-owners. Everything else they can sell at the market price.”

The source: http://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/fileadmin/user_upload/PDF/Future_Policy_Award_brochure.pdf

“a. Food Outlets: In key regions of the city food outlets are licenced to private operators under the agreement that a selection of 25 quality-controlled products are sold at set prices, about 20–50 % below market price. Also, in exchange for the profitable selling spot, vendors are required to serve low-income periphery areas on the weekends, where they can also sell additional produce at their own prices.

b. Straight from the Country and Country Store: This part of the programme facilitates direct interaction between rural producers and urban consumers. Rural producers selected through a public process are assigned fixed sale points throughout the city.  The price and quality of their produce are regulated. In 2008, 34 producers from 8 rural municipalities participated in the scheme.”

Exhibit 05

Samar: “Perhaps the biggest direct cushion against hunger is Belo’s series of government-run cafeterias. Each offers people — not just to those officially declared poor — hot meals (rice, beans, salad, ground beef and an apple) for about Rs. 50.”

Frances: “People’s Restaurants” (Restaurante Popular), plus a few smaller venues, that daily serve 12,000 or more people using mostly locally grown food for the equivalent of less than 50 cents a meal.

The source: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/sustainability/food-9-billion/brazil-delivers-hunger-promise

“This is Popular Restaurant No. 2. It’s one of five government-run cafeterias in the city where you can get a heaping plate full of hot food for only two reais, about $1.10. When the doors open at 11, people start streaming in. This used to be only for the poor. Now college students sit next to senior citizens, and construction workers next to homeless people; there are nurses from the hospital across the street having lunch here, and cops in uniforms. On the menu today: rice, beans, ground beef, salad and an apple. In an hour and a half, more than 4,000 people get lunch. This happens three times a day, five days a week.”

Exhibit 06

Samar: ‘The local university is deeply involved in keeping the system honest and functioning. Students survey the prices of more than 40 basic foods, supply these to local media outlets and paste them on walls and bus stands.”

Frances: “For instance, the city, in partnership with a local university, is working to “keep the market honest in part simply by providing information,” Adriana told us. They survey the price of 45 basic foods and household items at dozens of supermarkets, then post the results at bus stops”

The source: http://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/fileadmin/user_upload/PDF/Future_Policy_Award_brochure.pdf

d. Basic Basket Research: The city compiles weekly price lists for 45 basic household consumption items (mostly food) found in 60 supermarkets around the city. The lists are posted at bus stops and printed in newspapers and also accessible by phone and internet. Consumers are thus informed on lowest prices, which encourages competition among bigger commercial establishments.”

End Of Blog Extract. The complete blog post can be read here – amishra77.com/2012/09/09/sam

Samar Halarnkar’s Response to Newslaundry

Let me begin with the mocking skepticism the blog (in reference to Akhilesh Mishra) has for my claims to having tracked Brazil and Belo Horizonte’s poverty programme. I have indeed followed Brazil’s poverty programme for some time, as personal interest and because it is particularly relevant to a two-year long effort I headed to track poverty in India (website, “Tracking Hunger” at www.hindustantimes.com). One previous column with references to the Brazilian programme is: http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/Samar/The-invisible-hand/Article1-668717.aspx.

I have been to Brazil once, in 2007. Obviously, for this particular column, I did not travel to Brazil, and I did not claim I did.

Now, as to your specific questions:

Question 1: Your article seems to be very similar – to the point of being identical in places – to Frances Moore Leppe’s piece for YES!. Is there any particular reason that you did not give her article credit in your piece for HT?

First, the credit to Ms Lappé is very much in my column!

As for the similarities:

This is the Brazilian government press release (http://www.brasil.gov.br/para/press/press-releases/february/brazil-keeps-inequality-reduction-trend-while-coping-with-the-crisis) that first got me to interested in on Belo Horizonte, which I chose because it was not a big city and so an area where anti-poverty programmes could be implemented relatively easily. (I even recall trawling Portuguese-language websites and doing google translations initially before I chanced on this reference to Belo).

As I recall (and I may not recall them all because it is an old column), I used these other sources, apart from Lappé.

This was one: http://www.worldfuturecouncil.org/fileadmin/user_upload/PDF/Future_Policy_Award_brochure.pdf. Please see pages 4 and 5. It is from here I got most of the details for what the blogger calls “Exhibit 1” and “Exhibit 2”.

Another was this story (http://www.marketplace.org/topics/sustainability/food-9-billion/brazil-delivers-hunger-promise) that refers to specifics of what the peoples’ restaurants consume: beans, salad, beef, rice and an apple. The blog (exhibit 5) says I took it from Ms Lappé’s story. It doesn’t feature in her story at all.

As you can see, some of the data from her story is merged with other information in the public domain, as I listed above.

So, it is very easy to do a rough reading of motivated writing and come to wholly misleading conclusions.

There is indeed similarity because the article that Ms Lappé wrote was one of my prime sources! I admire her work greatly, quote from that article and directly attribute some statistics.

It isn’t coincidence that her story and mine focus on similar highlights; we are writing about the exact same topic, poverty in Belo Horizonte. As I said, her story was one of my prime sources, duly credited.

Question 2: Would you agree that this qualifies as plagiarism?

No, I certainly do not.

Apart from responding to your two questions, I think it is relevant to point out that this blogger belongs to a twitter handle that I blocked some time ago because of many vicious attacks against my views, which he considers to be pro-Congress, anti-Hindu and the like. Please note that the other two twitter handles mentioned in the blog post are among those who routinely attack me. The entire blog has also been posted on a website called niticentral.com, which did not bother to seek for a response from me. Their motivations are entirely personal and not remotely journalistic.

One would hardly attribute everything (population, formation of a city council etc) that is in the public domain. 

End Of Response

Contrary to Samar’s response to question 1, he does NOT credit Lappé’s article in his column. He does mention her book. Also, NONE of the sources which have now been mentioned by Samar Halarnkar were credited or referred to in his article titled ‘Not Much On the Plate’.

Samar Halarnkar’s response on September 12, 2012

“If a blogger with an agenda — and I do not see how you cannot see this, considering he has emailed everyone possible and demanded my suspension, from the BBC to Berkeley where I taught — rambles on, wrongly, about plagiarism and that is not established, what then is the point of this piece except to muddy a reputation for honesty built over 22 years?

In what newspaper column have you seen the title of an article quoted? 
A direct quote from the article couldn’t be more plain. Morever, you say I did not mention my other sources when I clearly mention I used them for information in the public domain. Do you credit information in the public domain? I have not seen that in any newslaundry article. 
If you had just presented his accusation and my defence that too would have been fine. You have editorialised, critiqued my comments but avoided doing the same for a clearly motivated right-wing blogger, whom is part of the media and whom you do not hold to the same standards. Please note that his entire blog is lifted from someone else, who he has credited with a footnote mention and who has appeared on your comments section meekly claiming credit. 

I am sorry, but I am sorely dissappointed.” 

NL Team Response 

We are not unaware of agendas at play, and have not editorialised or critiqued any comments in this piece. We are only laying out facts. 

Image Source: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/jm3/1462063088/]

All our articles are run through a software to avoid the possibility of unattributed work finding its way into Newslaundry.

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  • dinipc

    Samar Harlankar caught with pants down and yet shamelessly tried a pathetic defense! #loser

    • troll

      How do I flag lewd comments? he he

  • DD

    Why the hell would one want to read these boring details? Who gives a damn if this Harlankar fellow lifted it word-to-word?

  • Brz

    This copy-paste culture exposes the HT very nicely. I am not a journalist, but i can see the standard of this newspaper. In Mumbai they sell it an an offer price of around Rs 200 for whole year, I also availed for the same first time in my life and now I am regretting. I am not regretting after reading this news of ‘plagiarism’, but was cursing myself long back for opting this paper. Personally speaking, even if they sell this paper for free, no one should read this paper. Its such a waste of time and valuable paper.

    • No no, if they sell it as cheap rate, you should subscribe … since you can sell it to the kabaddiwala, right? Of course, you would need to have a large house to store it daily. I can’t really speak about HT one way or the other. But TOI is really Advertising Times of India …

  • AQK

    The cut paste story goes even deeper and starts from here:

    Check the specific points in this article, date of publishing compare with the article in question and its date of publishing and then read the rejoinder of the plagiarist. All will be clear.

  • Pingback: Comment on the NewsLaundry article on Samar Halnarkar’s article « Plainspeak : Free speech of an Indian()

  • Voluntary disclosure: I was the one who flagged that the piece was possibly plagiarized.

    I couldn’t post my long comment here. So, I have posted it at: http://plainspeak.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/comment-on-the-newslaundry-article-on-samar-halnarkars-article/

    • Atanu Dey

      Keep up the good work, Rakesh Babu. Social media folks like us keep the MSM media folks honest.

      Atanu Dey

      • Thanks, Sir.

        • Confused

          Do u have a prob with the blog written by mr. Mishra? He credits u in the footer .. mr. Samar thinks that he is at fault equally in doing so.. What’s ur take? Did u approach him? Did u write a blog earlier on this that Mr. mishra picked up?

          • Please check the other comment of mine that I have put here.



    • DA

      Good work. I can’t say you will keep them honest, because that is impossible for this lifetime of theirs. But these crooks really should be exposed for what they are.

  • Samarth

    So Newslaundry is getting formulaic again, cashing the hype generated by Zakarigate. Be it Unmukt interview or this formulaic attempt at plagiarism trail, NL sounds as if it’s intent on just following some trends. Except some good writers writing for Newslaundry, the site seems chasing some ‘viral’ trends, and rarely reflecting deeply on media, society, politics and life. If you are so concerned about plagiarism, and not chasing a ‘trendy thing’, then listen, if you are serious you will find instances of plagiarism every week in print, web and TV, come up with a weekly feature on plagiarism. Trend chasing is one thing,and being profoundly addressing things is another. Perhaps that’s the difference between Newslaundry and highly respected The Hoot.

    • Jhinka Chika

      Shallow journos writing on shallow issues for shallow readers. Welcome to Newslaundry! 😛

    • Abhinav

      Were you, by any chance, about to put up an “intellectual” copy paste and did NL gate crash it? Sincerely trolling 🙂

  • Naresh Fernandes

    The lens through which this article is being scrunitised is faulty. Samar has written a large opinion piece about food security: this isn’t an on-the-ground report from Belo Horizonte. This Brazilian experiment is a tiny example that is part of a longer argument about ending hunger. It’s standard operating procedure for commentators to refer to the clips for data and information. It’s their analysis we’re interested in, after all. For instance, several Indian commentators have written edits about the recently Republican and Democratic convention in the US without actually being there. They got their information off the TV, from the wires and the US newspapers. They don’t need to credit these sources and failing to do so doesn’t constitute plagiarism.
    What makes this different, of course, is that Samar has indeed mentioned the name of the writer from whose work he has got some information. The other sources of data and information about Belo Horizonte are press releases and brochures — sources that commentators are not expected to credit as they make their analysis.
    It’s clear that this blogger doesn’t understand the conventions of commentary writing in the mainstream media. It’s also clear that he doesn’t understand the conventions of honest attribution. After all, he received this so-called scoop from someone else, who he should have credited at the top of the alleged expose, not as a footnote. In effect, he’s guilty of failing to credit his source appropriately — the same charge he is leveling at Samar. (The person who made this purported discovery has meekly made a comment below, trying to establish his claim to having made this nonsensical discovery.)
    Naresh Fernandes

    • Namita Bhandare

      Completely agree with Naresh Fernandes. You might want to look at opinion pieces in every major newspaper (including NYT) to bear him out. But one additional point, Samar’s intention was to ‘plagiarise’ then why would he shoot himself in the foot by citing Frances Moore Lappe at all? Unless you’re now accusing him of complete stupidity too. I’m sorry this is not a critique, this is a witch-hunt that plays neatly into the hands of vested interests, as mentioned by Samar, with the specific aim of tarnishing the professional integrity and reputation of a journalist who has done years of exemplary work on hunger and poverty.

      • The more I read about this issue, the more it seems that our ‘esteemed’ journalists have started morphing into political animals. Mouthing stuff like ‘this is a witch hunt’ and ‘vested interests’ when caught pants down is a trick practiced well enough by crooked politicians over the years. That journalists and their ardent supporters have to use this excuse to deflect from criticism of their work (or the blame of plagiarism) just goes to show what a mess the profession is in nowadays, not to comment on the very questionable ethics and tactics that the fraternity is displaying nowadays. And please let it be known that reputation and the claim to integrity are both ratified by individuals(i.e us) who read the works put out by you folks, not by the hoary clique of closeted in their own world journalists.

      • Ajitabh

        By that logic, I guess the ‘opinion pieces of every major newspaper’ need to be looked at once again! If something wrong is being done by everyone, it does not make it right or ‘accepted practice’. For me the basic point is this – there is a difference between attributing sources and mentioning them in passing.
        I would not have a problem if the author had mentioned that he was providing an opinion piece based on his reading of Frances Moore’s article and his personal experience in the field. I would then know that the author had taken the trouble to read that article and provided an opinion using data / views from that article.

      • Pankaj

        Come on, Ms. Bhandare, copy paste is also an art and one must credit author being good at that. Citing Frances is one thing and lifting the specific information, spinning it in one’s own language without attributing that specific quote/piece of information is nothing but ‘intelligent plagiarism’.

        • NAVIN DHIGHE


      • Abhinav

        and what were you thinking when you shouted your lungs out over Washington Post article allegedly copying from Caravan? Either you were wrong then or you are wrong now, you decide. Over your argument of “vested interests”, who doesn’t have it? All media groups have vested interests, did you bother taking a pot shot at the likes Ndtv or CNNIBN who would lie at the drop of a hat and won’t even bother to apologize/acknowledge even when proven wrong. Samar Halarnkar isn’t “stupid”, he might have missed out on mentioning the sources and like everyone else, he has the right to defend himself. However, if his reasoning is that he should be let go scot free as the Mishra is a right wing supporter then its too lame. Its like saying all the Commies are wrong cos they believe in Mao Chacha. Off track: Commies do gloat over the colossal murders committed by Stalin and Mao, did Samar mention that? 😉

      • Poor VNN – who also did “exemplary” work during militant mess in Punjab – lost his job as HT editor for unattributed “use” of few paras in his weekly column!

    • My purpose of flagging this issue was not fame for myself, but to initiate a debate on a questionable journalistic piece. I was on a trip on Sept 8 and 9, so couldn’t write any post. Mr. Akhilesh Mishra asked me to do it on twitter and when he didn’t get any response from me he did it himself, and I am thankful to him since he did it when the issue was alive. That’s how crowdscourcing works. I didn’t want to repeat what Akhilesh said , so I didn’t write a post. I was hoping HT/other media organisations he works for would hire someone to do a detailed alaysis of his piece after the issue was raised by Akhilesh. But, none have done so far, but NewsLaundry has taken it up. But, in my humble opinion, the analysis has fallen short. And that is why I put my comment here listing the things that the analysis missed out. Please read it and respond. The author and the people supporting him here are resorting to Ad hominem attacks, which is not a sign of reason. If the HT editor indeed thinks the author has done nothing wrong, what prevents him from hiring a Journalism prof like Charles Seife to check the piece for journalistic misdemeanour and give a report. One more thing. No where in the whole piece does he cite Frances or Frances’s piece for the paragraphs in Exhibits 1-6 when he has borrowed so much from Frances’s article, and any reader would assume that those paragraphs were the results of author’s own journalistic research. And that’s the crux of the problem.

      • Azous D’Pilid

        Actually it’s GOOD journalistic practise to attribute all your sources – even in editorials. If you’re reporting on the democratic convention, and reporting poll numbers – you would usually write:

        “According to the XYZ Poll, 45% of ABC voters are happy with Obama”


        If this is beyond people in the ‘Mainstream Media’ it is THEY who don’t understand journalism. I can recommend some colleges if you like.

        • Azous D’Pilid

          Sorry this post is a reply to the parent’s parent.

          Regards – or as anyone who has the grace to admit a mistake would say – ‘due to over-enthusiasm, this post is in the wrong place. The error is regretted!’



    • ArcInglees

      By the way – here’s an example of how not to plagiarise. I suggest you learn something from it. It also contains only secondary data and it is clear the write of the post is not taking any undue credit for it.


  • Naresh Fernandes

    The lens through which this article is being scrunitised is faulty.
    Samar has written a large opinion piece about food security: this isn’t
    an on-the-ground report from Belo Horizonte. This Brazilian experiment
    is a tiny example that is part of a longer argument about ending hunger.
    It’s standard operating procedure for commentators to refer to the
    clips for data and information. It’s their analysis we’re interested in,
    after all. For instance, several Indian commentators have written edits
    about the recently Republican and Democratic convention in the US
    without actually being there. They got their information off the TV,
    from the wires and the US newspapers. They don’t need to credit these
    sources and failing to do so doesn’t constitute plagiarism.
    makes this different, of course, is that Samar has indeed mentioned the
    name of the writer from whose work he has got some information. The
    other sources of data and information about Belo Horizonte are press
    releases and brochures — sources that commentators are not expected to
    credit as they make their analysis.
    It’s clear that this blogger
    doesn’t understand the conventions of commentary writing in the
    mainstream media. It’s also clear that he doesn’t understand fair play (seeking the view of the other side) or the
    conventions of honest attribution. After all, he received this so-called
    scoop from someone else, who he should have credited at the top of the
    alleged expose, not as a footnote. In effect, he’s guilty of failing to
    credit his source appropriately — the same charge he is leveling at
    Samar. (The person who made this purported discovery has meekly made a
    comment below, trying to establish his claim to having made this
    nonsensical discovery.)

    • R

      If what Samar followed is “the conventions of commentary writing in the mainstream media”, it is unethical. It is time to change. This NL article, Rakesh and Akhilesh have a done a great service pointing out this shabby practice.

  • AQK

    Peers passionately defending one of their own caught plagiarizing? Now where did we see that before?

    What would prevent Samar from googling up more links or saying up front, came across this Brazilian hunger elimination success story and here are the links I read and these are the things I found interesting. Instead he starts off saying he has followed that town for a while. Funny, his quotes are almost entirely from a single article. The remaining quote about the restaurant menu comes from another Treehugger article published just before Samar’s piece in 2009.

    Passing of something as a developmental research is a different ballgame than storyboarding ongoing events.

    In the end, Samar’s defense appears to be – hey, I plagiarized from three articles, not just one. How nice.

  • Dilip D’Souza

    In my previous comment, the links I’ve provided seem to have had the closing parentheses appended. Apologies for this. They will work without the paren, in each case.

  • Sudharshan Ashok

    All of you who never read the entirity of the above ranting and came right down here, upvote this 😀

  • Toto

    Earlier chuddi-baniyan pic was better than this screenshot.

  • This new defense by Mr Samar : “In what newspaper column have you seen the title of an article quoted? ”
    Well, you don’t, what you do instead is that you quote the author, the name of the publication “Yes Magazine” in this case and possibly the year of publication.

    In any case who asked Samar as to why did he not quote the TITLE of the Article? Nobody. Straw man.

    That reminds me, not long ago, Namita Bhandare was saying not citing “Caravan” in the WaPo article on MMS was a serious charge!! Know the difference? In WaPo article, the comment was still attributed to Sanjay Baru just that it didn’t mention where was the comment taken from (only initially, if I’m not wrong, later on they did clarify that it was from Caravan and was used with Sanjay Baru’s permission).

    Astonishing double standards.

    BTW I’m also mystified by “February 2009 being referred to as “Recently” in April 2012.

  • Dilip D’Souza

    We are, are we not, talking about ethics? http://dcubed.dilipdsouza.com/2012/09/talk-about-ethics_12.html

    • Azous D’Pilid

      Dear mods, thank you for not posting this Troll’s comments.

    • Azous D’Pilid

      If anybody is following (censored) comment thread at that link – despite countless commenters telling D’Souza that Babu had attempted to contact Harlankar prior to publishing the article D’Souza sticks to his guns:

      “When Babu asks for explanation from Harlankar on twitter, what
      happens? He gets blocked. This is same as a news org asking for
      explanation and getting no response ( in fact, the phone disconnected
      would be more like it).

      Maybe so, but what’s the point?
      What’s the relevance to this post, of Babu asking for things and getting
      blocked and phones getting disconnected and so on? (Are you next going
      to tell me about Babu’s brother combing his hair?)

      Mishra went
      public with his analysis without any attempt to ask Halarnkar for his
      response. This is no conjecture on my part, Mishra himself says so (“how
      do I ask for a response”). NitiCentral also made no attempt to ask
      Halarnkar for his response before airing Mishra’s article.

      What does somebody else’s tweeting and getting blocked have to do with this? ”

      So let’s discuss Ethics:

      1) By intentionally being obtuse and censoring any posts which don’t personally attack him or have logically constructed arguments against his posts, this troll thinks he ‘wins’ debates, by filtering his comment thread, and making it seem as though anybody who opposes his posts are rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth, Internet Hindus. I will even go so far as accusing said person of intentionally posting fake comments on his own blog to make himself sound more reasonable, the line of argument being “Look at poor little ‘ol me and the irrational vitriol I have to put up with”. There have countless reports of people who have attempted to have well thought and reasoned responses to this person, only to find their comments are ‘moderated’.

      2) Not to mention the fact that he ‘believes’ this is not plagiarism.

      3) Finally, he tried to use attack as a poor form of defence with his postscript #2:
      “Postscript #2: As is also well-known by now, Niti Central also
      posted a piece about Aseem Trivedi that turned out to be taken from an
      earlier NDTV report. They have removed that now, leaving up only a note that speaks of a “regrettable error” by “an enthusiastic junior member of the editorial staff.””

      Attempting to draw some kind of parallel between what Harlankar did and what NitiCentral did. The blatant difference here being that NitiCentral made a mistake and promptly _apologised_ for it. Harlankar + D’Souza don’t even admit to any mistake having been made!

      4) FInally, D’Souza attempts to make it sound as though the comment about left-liberal ethics is a non-sequitor, when in fact, to anybody who has spent more than 5 minutes on the internet, the entire history of left liberal dishonesty is up for display including:

      A website which encouraged violence against ‘owners of capital’ – the exact quote, which mercifully has now been taken down was somewhere along the lines of ‘they had it coming’ – referring to the murder of some company’s CEO. It also spent a significant amount of space pushing non-vegetarianism as being a solution to malnutrition in a western state (basically making a veiled, dergatory comment about India’s majority religion).

      Lobbying misadventures of ‘star journalists’

      Purchasing homes on encroached tribal land

      and the list goes on.

      Plagiarism, Intellectual dishonesty, selective morality. These are the hallmarks of many journalists in India, and I guess it’s just a mere ‘coincidence’ that they are left-wing.

  • Ajitabh

    When both the articles in question – the ‘copied’ and the ‘copy’ – have nothing to do with left wing, right wing or any wing, why does the affected party play on a ‘right-wing’ agenda?

    I thought this critique was about plagiarism.

  • Pankaj Shrivastav

    Anyone even with average intelligence and ethics after reading the two articles would most likely conclude that the HT piece is a smart if not a straight lift from the Yes Mag piece by Fraces Lappe.

    It is really strange that the HT writer rather than owing up to the indiscretion is trying to brazen it out with the help of his fan club. A simple ‘sorry I messed up it wont happen again’ would have been just okay but the gent is hell bent in digging a deeper shithole for himself.

    Also an expose done by a person whom you club as ‘right winger’ is not going to delegitimize the facts of plagiarism and unethics.

  • Shilpi’s comment is still hidden at the bottom of this page and is marked as “abuse” (?). NL may please rectify the same.Very nicely worded balanced (and yes not balancing) take @shilpitewari .
    However, IMHO it is high time slightly tougher stand is taken against
    those who had been treating the masses with such a disdain and have got away
    with it thus far. The sheer arrogance with which the entire “ gang” (yes I
    refuse to call them fraternity anymore) had been reacting and trying to justify
    Samar’s despicable act of plagiarism, (by way of citing trivial mistakes (?)
    like omission on part of @amishra77 in mentioning the credit to @raksopenmind not
    in the beginning but in the end of his blog, or blowing out of proportion a
    small goof up by NitiCentral, for which they have already duly apologised, ) it
    is becoming very clear what is awaiting those who ‘dare’ call their bluff. Have
    no illusion that any minor slip on the part of the latter would be put under
    the microscopic lens and would be pounced upon by the shouting brigade, who
    will go any length to highlight such bloopers to shield the original indiscretion
    committed by their blue-eyed boy” which is simply called “cheating” in common
    parlance. Any college goer will tell you that.

    • madhu

      Shilpi’s comment got deleted by mistake in newslaundry’s shift to a larger server. There was nothing abusive in her comment for us to remove it. We welcome all criticism. We have a ‘No Abuse’ policy. We have requested Shilpi to not take it personally. There is no conspiracy here. Thanks.

  • Sameer

    If Samar’s work was plagiarism, wonder what the same people accusing him had to say when Niti Central (that dutifully published Mishra’s piece, was acting holier than thou and whose editors seemed to be spearheading the attack ) copied the article on Aseem trivedi lock stock and barrel form NTDV. And had to issue this gem of a retraction later (“regrettable error” caused by “over-enthusiasm”) –
    http://www.niticentral.com/2012/09/regrettable-error.html . Of sauces and Geese..

    • Azous D’Pilid

      So you yourself admit that at least NitiCentral had the good grace to apologise for a lapse on their part, instead of trying to dismiss their accusers as left? Thanks.

  • culdivsac

    News Laundry’s comments section does not allow bold letters or italicization, which is why I have posted this comment on my blog. Here’s the link:

  • Nigel Britto

    This is not an issue of plagiarism. It’s an issue of defamation—attempting to destroy a towering reputation built over years of honest, unbiased journalism. Secondly, there seems to be a lot of people mistaking a column for a research paper. The two are very different, and completely different standards apply to both. A columnist, no matter where in the world he or she is, is not expected to credit facts in the public domain. Read some of the other great columnists of contemporary journalism—Thomas L Friedman, Paul Krugman, etc. When was the last time you saw them crediting facts which are public? That’s the convention of newspaper opinion. Of course, if this was a post-graduate thesis or Ph.D thesis, there would be footnotes all over. But it’s not.
    Mr Halarnkar’s piece is commentary, and what’s important here is the opinion, not the facts on which the opinion is based. He cites Frances as primary source, and that’s to his credit. What this also IS, is an attempt to malign his reputation. I have no doubt about this, since I’ve seen for myself the abuse he gets on Twitter from right-wing trolls who wilfully abuse and mock anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their extremists views. It’s good to see the odd sensible voice in these comments (Naresh Fernandes, Namita Bhandare, etc) and hope that better sense prevails. Quite ashamed of and disappointed with NL this time.

    • The bases for your arguments above are:
      1. Similarities between Samar Halarnkar’s article and that of Frances are just the facts stated in the articles:
      But the assertion is *not* true
      If you read both Samar’s and Frances’s articles, it is clear that there are similarities in(in addition to the stats) :
      1. Narrative. Notice the similarity in the flow of Samar’s article and that of Lappe.
      2. Structures of the chunks of text in the Exhibits numbered 1,3,4 and 6.
      3. Even some phrases.(For the details, please see the link I have posted in this NL article’s comments section)
      2. He cited Lappe as primary source :
      He credits Lappe for one line worth of data. Nothing about the paragraphs in exhibits 1-6. So, the reader would naturally assume that those were the result of author’s own work.

      You say Friedman and Krugman also take stats from other pieces but don’t cite them. But, give me one piece from either author where it appears as if the author has taken almost all of the data from one article, presents the data in paragraphs/chunks-of-text in a manner extremely similar to the same article, uses many of the same phrases in those paragraphs and orders the paragraphs in a way very similar to the original article, and fails to cite the author for these paragraphs, and as an afterthought, cites the author for just one line in the whole piece. Show me such a piece, and I’ll blog about it and become an instant celebrity in the world media for having taken down Friedman and Krugman.

      Another thing. Seeing the same stats in the two articles spaced 3 years apart raises a very important question. Did he verify that the data of 2009 was valid in 2012 as well? What were the sources that were used to verify this?

      Similarities in the two pieces and apparent lack of attribution of these to the author/piece were pointed out and put in the public domain so that concerned people could examine the issue in detail. Defamation is telling a lie while knowing it is a lie. Telling what you think about an apparently questionable piece, supported by enough evidence, isn’t.

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  • Ramaavatara

    Plagiarism is nothing new to Samar Halarnkar. He entered journalism, via the Times of India, in the late 1980’s. His father was the DGP of Karnataka, and he happened to know Alan Mendonca. Rookie (convent or western educated ones) are given the movie/drama/theater review beat. I recall Samar sitting at his desk and directly lifting or reading a well-known movie review book available in print those days. He was apparently working on the movie “The Italian Job” (if my memory serves me right) that was being screened at the now-vanished Plaza theatre.
    So does this story surprise me? NO! I saw it, and was tactless enough to bring it up with him, that he brushed aside–as my rudeness.
    He is the most insipid non-writer one can encounter. He is just a hack. He stands tall on others’ shoulders!