Plagiarism Council of India?

A 30-member committee led by President of IACP Kerala Region couldn’t write even a letter without plagiarizing more than half of it.

ow many psychologists would it take to produce original work spanning three pages? I’d say just one. But Dr Satheesh Nair, the President of Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists (IACP) Kerala Region, would probably disagree. For a 30-member committee led by him couldn’t write a three page letter to the Prime Minister of India without plagiarizing more than half of it. About 35% of this letter demanding Psychology Council of India has been plagiarized from my own work. I have lodged a complaint regarding this with Dr Kalpana Srivastava, President of Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists. Following is my letter of complaint emailed to her this morning:

[Letter begins]

Oct. 14, 2020

To
Dr Kalpana Srivastava
President
Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists

Sub: Complaint of plagiarism against Dr Satheesh Nair, President, Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists (IACP), Kerala Region

Dear Dr Srivastava,

I hope you are in the best state of your health and well-being.

I am writing to lodge a formal complaint of plagiarism against Dr Satheesh Nair, President, Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists (IACP), Kerala Region. Dr Satheesh Nair — along with Dr Anoop Kumar, Ms Anuradha Anoop and “State cordinators, Indian Psychologists Collective for PCI” (sic) — wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of India and “Minister of Health & Family, Office of Minister of Health, Govt of India” (sic) opposing the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020. The said letter (enclosed herewith) was circulated in a Telegram group named “Towards PCI — Psychological Council of India” by Dr Satheesh Nair at 11:58 am on Oct 13, 2020. A member of the group alerted me about it as it “resembled some of [my] points.” I read the letter and found that it extensively plagiarised my work. The plagiarism is so rampant that even the first sentence of the letter has been copied word for word. Following are the instances of plagiarism in this letter:

1. “Mental health should be a priority for every government, especially during this pandemic”: this sentence has been stolen from my tweet https://twitter.com/AjayGulzar/status/1307655033824051201.

2. The sentence “The Government of India withdrew the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018 on September 15, 2020, and the same day, introduced a new legislation entitled The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill (NCAHPB), 2020.” has been copied verbatim from my email communication dated Sep 17, 2020 to indianpsychologists@groups.io group (screenshot).

3. “The title ‘Behavioural Health Sciences’ itself is problematic and does injustice to the profession and society.”: this sentence has been taken from my tweet at https://twitter.com/AjayGulzar/status/1307652937003331584.

4. “It is inconceivable that same, or even similar, standards of education, training and licensing can be applied to psychologists and other professionals. It is worse that podiatrists and psychologists are supposed to be regulated by the same statutory body.”: these sentences are verbatim copy of https://twitter.com/AjayGulzar/status/1307653232718610433.

5. The sentences “The Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) deals only with, as the name suggests, rehabilitation. The narrow mandate and focus of the RCI has led to the neglect of clinical psychologists.” have been lifted from my article “The Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018 is terrible for psychology” available at https://medium.com/@ajaygulzar/the-allied-and-healthcare-professions-bill-2018-is-terrible-for-psychology-ec73e1d62b75.

6. The point no. 3 on second page of the letter [“Additionally, RCI is under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India. The Allied and Healthcare Council of India (AHCI), envisaged in the Bill, would be under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. This means that the profession of psychology will be governed by two different ministries.”] has again been plagiarised from my above article at https://medium.com/@ajaygulzar/the-allied-and-healthcare-professions-bill-2018-is-terrible-for-psychology-ec73e1d62b75.

7. The point no. 4 on second page [“The AHPB stated that “‘Behavioural health’ is the preferred term to ‘mental health’” and hence, the name of the category. This create conflicts with the Mental Healthcare Act (2017) and the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) Act, 1992 which is implemented in this country. ‘Behavioural health’ is not the preferred term to ‘mental health’. The former is even narrower in scope than the latter. Moreover, The NCAHPB does not cover important professionals in the field of Psychology such as Forensic psychologist, Educational psychologist, Sports psychologist, etc.”] has been plagiarized from these tweets of mine: https://twitter.com/AjayGulzar/status/1307653768276709379, https://twitter.com/AjayGulzar/status/1307653876875575297, https://twitter.com/AjayGulzar/status/1307654931302608899.

8. The point 5 [“For every category in NCAHPB, there would be Professional Councils under the National Commission. But due to clubbing of other disciplines with psychology, even within this Council, mental health of Indians would not always be a priority.”] has been copied verbatim from https://twitter.com/AjayGulzar/status/1307654623105179648.

9. The points 1 and 4 under “OUR PROPOSAL FOR REGULATION OF PSYCHOLOGISTS IN INDIA” in the letter [“The ‘Behavioural Health Sciences profession’ category should be removed from the AHPB.” *and*“For the promotion, standardisation and regulation of psychology, an independent, statutory Indian Council of Psychology should be established. Therefore, the Committee should recommend to the Government the creation of such a Council.”] have been plagiarised from a Representation Template I wrote, which is available at https://www.dropbox.com/s/ptjk8amy1fs0b5a/Representation%20Template.pdf. I had shared this Template on IndianPsychologists@yahoogroups.co.in group (having around eight thousand members) on Feb 14, 2019 at 7:04 pm (screenshot). These points were also part of my two year old change.org petition at https://www.change.org/p/remove-psychology-from-the-allied-and-healthcare-professions-bill-2018-create-an-independent-national-psychology-council (more than 5,600 signatures). The Template was used by multiple associations, institutions and individuals to send their representations to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare and these points form part of the Committee Report. Interestingly, the petition and the Representation Template were about the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018, which has been withdrawn and replaced by the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020. But the letter writers did not pay attention to this detail while copying. Moreover, the writers have also made mistake while copying the part “the Committee should recommend to the Government the creation of such a Council,” as the Committee has already presented its report to Rajya Sabha on 31st January, 2020 and therefore, not considering representations regarding this issue now.

About 35% (350 words out of 1000) of the core letter has been plagiarised from my work. This amount of plagiarism is beyond any acceptable limit. Moreover, it appears that parts of the letter have been copied from other sources also. For instance, several points under “OUR PROPOSAL FOR REGULATION OF PSYCHOLOGISTS IN INDIA” have been copied from the representation by Tata Institute of Social Sciences [see page 41 of Parliamentary Standing Committee report on the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018.] Consequently, the extent of plagiarism crosses 50%.

When I posted a message referring to this extensive plagiarism in the Telegram group “Towards PCI — Psychological Council of India,” instead of addressing my concerns, I was banned from writing in the group and my message was deleted. [Dr Satheesth Nair is an admin of the group.]

I am not aware if IACP has any rules regarding plagiarism by its members and holders of leadership positions, but the University Grants Commission (Promotion of Academic Integrity and Prevention of Plagiarism in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2018 state that the penalties “in case of plagiarism in academic and research publications” on similarities between 40% to 60% are:

i) “Shall be asked to withdraw manuscript.”
ii) “Shall be denied a right to one annual increment.”
iii) “Shall not be allowed to be a supervisor to any new Master’s, M.Phil., Ph.D. Student/scholar for a period of two years.”

Based on this, I seek following penalty for Dr Satheesh Nair:

i) Withdrawal of the letter
ii) Resignation as President of IACP, Kerala Region and not allowing him to hold any post in IACP for two years.

Although I am aware that in recent past, IACP had struggled to remove from the post of President even the person who was facing allegations of sexually harassing children, I do believe that under your leadership, the standards of integrity and ethics at IACP have been raised. Therefore, I hope that you would take a strict and exemplary action against the President of IACP Kerala Region.

I would like to state that this letter is being made public.

An acknowledgement of this complaint would be appreciated.

Yours Sincerely
Ajay Gulzar

Enclosures (5):
1. Letter written by Dr Satheesh Nair and others
2. Screenshot of email to indianpsychologists@groups.io group
3. Screenshot of email to IndianPsychologists@yahoogroups.co.in group
4. Report of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare on the Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2018
5. University Grants Commission (Promotion of Academic Integrity and Prevention of Plagiarism in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2018

cc: Dr Manoj Bajaj
General Secretary
Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists

[Letter ends]

I would update this space whenever I receive a response from the IACP. Please share this piece widely.

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Ajay Gulzar

Psychology. Policy. Law. Poetry. LAMP Fellow, 2015–16. Alumnus: JNV, University of Delhi, IIT Bombay.