A glimpse at world history and its contributions to mankind will reveal that man has also been constantly evolving mentally in search of a better way of life. While one section of explorers worked hard to step up the “standard of living” by using science and technology, there were others who tried hard to understand the “truth of life.”
Yet, none of these personalities who broke new ground for mankind felt the need to consolidate the information on a universal platform so that mankind can progress further from the point of what they already knew about.
As a result, we have been constantly engaged in the oft repeated activity of “re-inventing the wheel”. A glance through all the recorded material on various subjects which is available at the click of a button is proof enough to show that many subjects have been discussed and analysed threadbare and have reached refined heights long long ago, even as we are fumbling with the hems of the subject only now.
For instance, the heliocentric theory or the presence of atomic energy was known to ancient Indians thousands of years ago but the world consolidated the same as scientific knowledge only about 400 years ago. This is but just one example among thousands of such discoveries that were made by ancient civilisations across the globe.
Today, the scenario has changed. We live in a technologically advanced world, and all the information we need on just about any subject under the sun is available in both “hard” and “soft” forms for a price. But apparently, there are very few genuine takers who utilise this information for the benefit of mankind or self improvement.
A survey among the student community shows that while the younger children prefer to be spoon-fed by their teachers and their guardians, older students use the internet specifically for playing games, chatting with online friends and occasionally looking up for information about their role models in the sports and cine field in that order. Students pursuing higher education use information relevant to their subject only when they are pressurised to look up for some information on their own.
Many a project work, seminar and thesis submitted by students happen to be plagiarised from a source which they do not even bother to mention or acknowledge much to the consternation of the authors, who sometimes accidentally stumble upon their work verbatim in another person’s name.
According to them, “If you steal from one author, it is plagiarism; if you steal from many, then it is research.” It is indeed a sorry state of affairs. Experienced faculty from reputed institutions can vouch for the fact about how many times the earnest research work of an entirely unique nature has been snitched in the most unethical manner by people in authority.
While some original works do get compensated monetarily, many a creative work like a poem or a script or a formula are changed minimally and used unscrupulously. It is shameful and disheartening to note that even the teaching community cannot be spared of this accusation.
Novices in the field sometimes help themselves to the notes and the ideas of their seniors without acknowledgement or even a pang of conscience. Perhaps it was because of this reason artists, artistes, scholars and experts in different subjects held on to the keys of their knowledge to their bosoms in the past, are doing so in the present and will do so in future.
The scenario will not change as long as people reject their moral scruples and refuse to follow code of ethics. Till such time the portals of knowledge at the experimental and research level will close their doors for the fear of being robbed of their ideas which cannot be compensated with anything that is tangible. This will result in waste of time as scholars will feel queasy about sharing their opinions and findings for the fear of losing them and end up going in circles for a longer time.
The time has come when information has to be processed into knowledge through experience so that the end product can be used for the betterment of mankind.
To do so, we have no choice but to stick to the old fashioned way of holding on to our integrity and honour and acknowledging the hard work and the earnest efforts of people who may have arrived at some results in their respective fields.
Teaching and learning, which are nothing but the two faces of sharing, will become
meaningful and joyful exercises when the originator (devil?) is given its due.