Note: Please be patient with this post. Its long, but do read the point.
I cannot remember names. Just cannot remember them. Who came up with what theory, who said what... no names! I know Einstein invented the electric bulb and Edison the theory of relativity, but that's about it.
I like to think that it is genetic to Indians. All our paintings, even as recent as 300 year old ones, do not carry the landmark signature. Though I left my history long ago, (what hope did I have with such spectacular memory of names. My memory with dates is even better), I do remember that in India, it was considered sacrilegious to attach your name to a creation.
To us, all creation is nothing but the message of Saraswati, the goddess of learning and wisdom, and repository of universal Gyana (wisdom). We are but messengers. And therefore, how can we claim credit for creating something that we are merely delivering? In our tradition, we don't even know who wrote the vedas!
Books are identified, even today, by the method of the writer including his name, if at all, in a devotional passage to the god/dess of choice, terming him/herself as the "das" (servant) asking for blessings before embarking on the task ordained. Most poets and writers do not put it, and then we depend on references made by other writers to their work, to identify who the writer was. That was how the original name of Vatsyayana was discovered - ONLY through references in other works. That is also the way we found out about Aryabhatta and Leelavati Beej Ganit - the fore-father of all algebra books.
Ustad Mansoor, the legendary painter in Jahangir's court, also did not sign his paintings. That is our tradition. Ideas do not belong to anyone. They are just things we pick up from the ocean of universal wisdom. Some of us present them to others as messengers.
Now, my question is, name one original idea in the world today. The Monk Who sold his Ferrari is plagiarised from the Geeta. As are a lot of Shiv Kheras and the rest. Of course, the fact that Buddhism presents the ideas of detachment that I also found in the Geeta makes the whole concept of plagiarism a little... well, historic.
Given this, does Kaavya Vishwanathan deserve what she got? In a book full of .. What? 2000 paragraphs or so, we are raising a storm about 40 passages? Are we saying that these ideas have NEVER been written about by anyone else? If they have been, does that mean that the "original" authors raising a hue and cry themselves deserve to be pulled up for plagiarising? What is the similarity between a girl who discloses all to a man in a plane, and a girl who decides to get a life to get into Harvard? The opportunity to create a little issue, and to sell some more copies of the book, that's what!
Well folks, be very careful, bcs the first person to put "Don't give me gyan" to his college buddy, over a cigarette in the college canteen, in a novel is going to sue you for similar passages if you write a book - ever! It doesn't matter that chicklit can depend on some very familiar themes.
Incidentally, I have found a project: Am going to look for plagiarised content in all the Mills and Boons series. And I am going to find out all the passages where Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys have borrowed from the Famous Five. AND, I really MUST find out who else has stolen from the Geeta and the Vedas.