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Just Shoot Me

Bala, 28, Gordon Gekko in the making, pseudo-intellectual, cynic, bibliophile, obsessive compulsive ranter...

When The Hindu gets inspired by me..

December 07, 2009

Today's Hindu has an opinion column on language issue in India by it's Reader's editor - S. Viswanathan. Its well written and convers a lot of ground. And it is basically a rehash of Wikipedia article on Anti Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu. Granted, there is some additional research and the language has been reworked till it is almost unrecognizable. But i still recognize it because i was the one who wrote the Wikipedia article (with help from another editor). A few phrases have been taken verbatim from wikipedia lead section . You wont find them in the current wikipedia article as we are constantly rewriting it to make it a featured article. But they were there a week ago (are still there in the article history). I rewrote this particular article only a couple of weeks ago and I feel sort of proud that a mainstream newspaper has seen it worthy enough to base a opinion piece upon it.

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posted by Bala, 4:36 PM

9 Comments:

That Opinion piece is written by Reader's Editor, the ombudsman who is supposed to check against plagiarism :-).
commented by Blogger Chenthil, 6:18 PM  
chen,

i guess, since that article is GFDL licensed question of plagiarism doesnt arise. But actually viswanathan's piece is a net positive for the wikipedia article - we get confirmation from a mainstream media article (and a few additional facts from Hindu's research team). In a few days, viswanathan's article will become a reference to the wiki article and add more "mainstream cred" ;-).. as my co contributing editor put it - a virtuous cycle for us :-)
commented by Blogger Bala, 9:10 PM  
Wow nice!
commented by Anonymous shilpa, 9:31 PM  
not that i'm doubting you but if you're going to charge inspiration/based-an-opinion-piece-on, you ought to provide more specific evidence than "i still recognize it", you need to show that they lifted specific concepts or phrases unique to your article clustered in a way that makes it unlikely to have originated independently.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 10:42 AM  
Anon,
Fair enough. I will list specific examples below - but the phrases are no longer in the wikipedia article It is being rewritten as we speak, since we submitted it to peer review by uninvolved editors to make it more encyclopedic. - The article history will indicate that. The phrases were present in earlier versions which can be obtained through the history pages of the article.

1) "the Great Elder" - Only Wikipedia articles (the anti hindi and periyar ones) were referring to periyar as such, i removed it as it was too praising and Non neutral (great is not a direct translation)

2) "The agitation succeeded in preventing the compulsory teaching of Hindi in the schools." This is an almost verbatim quote from the legacy section except i had used "stopping" instead of "preventing" because it is accurate - the agitation stopped something already happening not something that was about to happen

3)"After Independence, the agitations were staged to ensure the continuation of English as an Official Language and to prevent Hindi from being declared the sole Official Language of India." verbatim quote from the former lead. we used "post-independence" agitatons. you can see the evolution of this lead, when me and the other editor went back and forth on the talk section developing it.

4) Although few pundits recognised it at the time, the DMK’s emphatic victory in the 1967 State Assembly election meant that the Congress would never get a chance of ruling the State for 42 years and counting. - There is a seperate section for "impact on 1967 elections" and once again in the legacy section. we use the term "continuing dominance of dravidian parties". Also the wikipedia articles covering the 67 election article of and the rise of dravidian partiesmake the same points (i was involved in writing the first one last month, the later has been there for a year)

5) "The Act gave legal status to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous 1959 “assurance” in Parliament that English would be used as an alternate language as long as the non-Hindi-knowing people required it" - Taken from the article but expanded

6)"Congress leaders from South India such as N. G. Ranga, N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, T.T. Krishnamachary, and P. Subbarayan defeated the attempts by certain sections of the Congress led by Purushottam Das Tandon and Seth Govind Das and also by the founder-leader of the Jana Sangh, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, to make Hindi the ‘National Language.’".

- summarized from "indian constitution and language" and "language commission" sections of the article. Before the wiki article, most of them were quoted in different articles/books but not collated together before.

7) "The ‘anti-Hindi’ agitation in Tamil Nadu, before and after Independence, took the form of mass mobilisation – demonstrations, massive conferences, militant protests, rail rokos, and so on.". Again summarized and rewritten from the former lead which used to read "Anti-Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu refer to a series of agitations happened in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu (formerly Madras State and part of Madras Presidency) during both pre- and post-Independence periods. The term encompasses all mass protests, riots, student and political movements that happened in Tamil Nadu, concerning the official status of Hindi in the state and in the Indian Republic."

8) Before the current wikipedia article was put together around nov 20, there was no article/scholarly work with this particular narrative that begins with census stats, explains INC effort to promote hindi, explains 38 agitation, language policy and constituion, official language act and 65 agitation. There were separate scholarly works which covered all of them individually but none covering all (sumathy ramaswamy's passions of the tongue comes the closest to covering everything, but that too does not cover the constitution sections).
commented by Blogger Bala, 11:33 AM  
continued from above:

9) The only major parts that are present in the hindu piece and not in the wikipedia article is the 1958 Rajaji article quote and the "in china" para.

Summary: As i had stated earlier, the hindu piece is an "inspiration". The wikipedia article is not a "original research" work. We merely have pulled together info from other scholarly work to the same place to form a single repository on all anti hindi agitations. Viswanathan's work is the only comprehensive work i know (apart from the wiki article) which touches on ALL aspects of the agitation from 37 to 65 (wiki article goes beyond that). It is possible that the hindu team did the same research we did and arrived at the same narrative. But the fact it uses specific phrases (those i wrote and which are not particularly good) present in the wiki article's previous versions, indicates they started with wikipedia article as a base and went forward from it.

BTW, i have now added the hindu opinion piece as a citation for the wikipedia article. There is nothing factually wrong with the Hindu article and it becomes an additional citation for the wikipedia article
commented by Blogger Bala, 11:34 AM  
addendum :

1) for point no 1,"the great elder" was sourced from tamilnation.org. in the wikipedia article. another reason why i removed the quote - that site gets challenged as fringe. so anything sourced from it was going out

2) for point no 8, "there was no article/scholarly work with this particular narrative". i should emphasize "scholarly work". because there is the tamil tribune site and thanjai nalankilli's articles which have a comprehensive timeline of anti-hindi agitations, but full of hyperbole, rhetoric and POV claims all over. When i rewrote the article i made a specific point not to look at it/source from it because it will "tarnish" the final outcome. But even those don't cover the constituent assembly debate sections
commented by Blogger Bala, 11:49 AM  
Sir, great to know that you wrote that wiki article. I have linked to that article several times and have taken many points from it for my arguments. Thanks.

Pradeep
commented by Anonymous Pradeep T R, 9:09 PM  
pradeep,

glad you found it useful. it isnt entirely mine but a collaborative work of several editors - the latest version is mainly a product of mine and and a editor named cartick.
commented by Blogger Bala, 10:26 PM  

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