Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Another award for Gopi Chand Narang: Is there an intellectual bankruptcy?

Gopi Chand Narang, the former president of Sahitya Akademi has yet another award to his almost never-ending list. The latest to come is the Akademi's fellowship, which is considered the highest award. In an interview to Outlook, he speaks about the numerous awards he has got for his contribution to literature. But his rather illustrious career has been tarnished by allegations of plagiarism, the biggest sin any writer could commit.

I wonder why is he silent on the allegations that has been brought out by Imran Shahid Bhinder, a scholar based in the UK. In September, 2009 Imran Bhinder in an interview with urdufigures, shows in detail the extent to which Narang has used the work of others without giving proper references in his award-winning book Sakhtiyat, Pas-i-Sakhtiyat Aur Mashriqi Shi’riyat (Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and Eastern Poetics). In Bhinder's words: "He (Narang) also absolutely lacks the principal intellectual traits, which are essential not only to perform subtle analysis, but also to establish his reputation as an honest writer."

I am also sure that if these allegations were leveled against a writer of English, there would have been a huge furore. The writer would have had to give a lot of explanation. A prominent Bombay-based Urdu researcher told me Narang has a way with words and is a brilliant orator. And it seems like his spoken words are washing away the sins of his 'plagiarised' printed words.

Perhaps it is time for Mr Narang to come out and silence those who believe he is unworthy of such recognition.

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