Shiva Shankar Gautam, who is popular as Shiva Ram Gautam among his clients, is a section officer at the Dean’s office in Tribhuwan University. His business, is to sell readymade dissertations and get the plagiarized researches approved by the university professors.
When we met Gautam, we requested him to provide us a Masters’ dissertation for sociology department. ‘I have one with me, it will cost you 12,000. Getting it approved is my responsibility.’, he made an offer. ‘I’ll get Krishna Bhattachan to sign it.’
When we asked him if he could get someone else to approve it, he said there are others who could do it too.
Gautam’s partner in this business is Janak KC, a former employee at TU who now runs Universal Photocopy Centre at Naya Bazar. KC told us, for NRs.16,000 he could provide us dissertation for any subject, except science.
‘We have to pay the person who writes it, and the supervisor who gets it fixed within the department. All that I get is two or three thousand rupees.’, he accounted for the entire business.
‘You don’t have to worry about anything. I will talk to Surendra Mishra and you won’t even have to write a proposal. I will introduce you to him during your viva,’ KC made his best offer.
He even told us he had some connections inside departments of management and rural development. ‘We have our ways, but you shouldn’t talk about it outside,’ he warned, adding that his business extends as far as Pokhara.
Next, we turned our attention towards Department of English, and found, you could get your thesis approved without having to write a proposal, or ever meeting your supervisor! It would cost a hefty 100,000 rupees, and the person who could work this miracle is Khagraj Lamichhane, a former student at the department and a private school teacher.
‘I know it’s a lot of money, but it is also a lot of work.’, he explained. ‘We have to go through a channel, paying as we move up the order, all the way to the invigilators that are appointed externally. We also need to pay those inside the administration, so that there is no leakage.’
We were curious, who actually writes these dissertations? ‘If necessary, we can get the lecturers to write it.’, he assured us.
Gokul Ghimire, who runs a book shop inside TU premises told us he could get a finance thesis written for Rs 20,000. Like others, he assured us that the supervisors at the management department would approve it too.‘I can get Saroj sir, Mahananda sir or Bhawani sir to do it.’, he confirmed.
Manmohan Thapa is another old hand in the thesis business. For his clients, he is a lecturer at Patan Campus and Asian College, but he actually runs thesis racket from Gyankunja Photocopy and Hira Books Centre inside the university’s premises.
Thapa told us he was well connected with professors at the management, rural development and political science departments.
‘It is easy to approve your work if you request Umesh Prasad Acharya at the Department of Rural Development,’ says Thapa. He told us if we paid Rs. 30,000, we would get a dissertation without writing a proposal.
Like KC, Thapa also gave us detailed accounting of where the money goes.‘The person who prepares the dissertation takes Rs 10,000, the supervisor takes another Rs10,000 and the remaining is distributed to the people inside the administration.’
Thapa told us he could ask Prof Dr Ram Kumar Dahal at the Department of Political Science to approve our thesis without writing a proposal.Tukanath Sharma, the proprietor of Gyankunja Photocopy assured us that we could trust Thapa.
‘Don’t worry, he is good at this and has sold hundreds of thesis.’, Sharma told us.
Raju Adhikari, an MPhil student at the Department of English, and NGO-worker Rajendra Paudel are also thesis agents. Both take turn in writing, recycling old dissertations and charge Rs 20,000 per thesis. Instead of scouting around for clients, they operate out of Oxford Book Shop and pay prorpeitor Ruma Hamal her share in the business.
Another recycler of old dissertations is Shyam Chandra Adhikari, known to his clients as Ramhari Subedi. Subedi tells his clients that he is from Nawalparasi and that he has sold many dissertations to students at Birendra Campus in Chitwan. He also claims to have worked at Alternative Energy Promotion Centre.
During out investigation, we found people like Gautam, KC, Ghimire and other agents, have such good access inside the TU departments that they can get a dissertation – no matter who wrote it – approved without any questions asked.
It wasn’t too difficult to find, the agents in the business of plagiarizing dissertations had full access to the archives at central and departmental libraries. All they did was, lifted information from similar dissertations to assemble a new one. These thesis agents also have their own collection of old dissertations, and are well connected to campus administration and members in the thesis committees.
We spent an entire month looking through as many dissertations as we could, to test the claims of those involved in this illegal trade. When we checked the libraries at the central departments and at different constituent campuses, we found many cases where almost same or mostly similar research work was submitted by more than one student. We understood, the students submit dissertations purchased from these agents, who rehash old dissertations available in the archive and bribe the supervisors and the department staffs to get the document approved.
We found, a research on child labour, archived at the Department of Rural Development has been plagerised and submitted under at least three names. Yadab Bhattarai, Bindu Kumari Gharti Chhetri, and Muna Kumari Acharya have all submitted dissertation on ‘Domestic Child Labour in Nepal’. . All three research works, done in Putalisadak, Thamel and Gongabu, respectively, have same data. All three papers have been approved.
Two of the three dissertations were supervised by Umesh Prasad Acharya, with Suman Banskota as external examiner, and approved by department chief Prof. Dr Pradip Kumar Khadka.
Similarly, two papers on child labour written by Shanta Pahadi and Anjana Bista are exact copies of each other. A close copy is submitted by Pratima Sharma. Pahadi and Sharma’s research has been approved by Chandra Lal Shrestha.
Another example are two theses approved by professors Dr Mangala Shrestha and Dr Umakant Silwal at the the Department of Rural Development. Paras Bhandari’s ‘Role of Remittance in the Reduction of Rural Poverty: A case study of Machhegaun VDC of Kathmandu district, Nepal’ ; and Tulsi Ram Nepal’s ‘Role of Remittance in the Reduction of Rural Poverty – A case study of Karmaiya VDC of Sarlahi district, Nepal’ have mostly same details. Bhandari submitted his paper in 2014 and Nepal a year later.
Another study on remittance, written by Junmaya Gharti and supervised by Prof Dr Chandra Lal Shrestha also matches with the above two dissertations. Most research works on remittance, social inclusion and tourism, that have been approved from the Department of Rural Development are close copies of each other.
The dissertations submitted at departments of Sociology, Political Science and Economics have also been plagerised. The study on the effects and changes of foreign employment, the changes in economic capacity of different enthic groups, and works on inclusion also resemble in content and data.
At the Department of Political Science, we found two exact copies of theses on women’s participation in Nepal’s constituent assembly. Bam Bahadur Rawal and Raju Kunwar’s works even share the same titles. Their supervisors were Siddhi Laxmi Baidya and Manohar Parajuli respectively.
Another two works on the development of journalism in Nepal, submitted by Rajesh Jha in 2005 and Tej Bilas Adhikari in 2006, supervised by Prof Dr Ananta Raj Poudel and Prof Dr Ram Kumar Dahal respectively, are also exact copies of each other. The department also archives submitted works on the role of UN in Nepal, Nepal-India relations, Nepal-China relations, human rights and peace process in Nepal. Almost every work we sampled were copies of each other.
Puja Basnet and Lalita Kumari Parajuli, who submitted their similarly titled work at the Department of Sociology, are infact copies of each other. Basnet’s ‘Relations of Kami ethnic group of Hathilet VDC, Mahottari district, with other castes’ and Parajuli’s ‘Relations of Magar ethnic group of Hathilet VDC, Mahottari district, with other castes’ were both supervised by Dr. Krishna Bhattachan, and approved by Dr Surendra Mishra, Madhusudan Subedi, and Prof Dr Tulsiram Pandey.
At the Department of Economics, Dr Ram Prasad Gyawali, Dr Umashankar Prasad, Rashmi Rajkarnikar, and Sanjaya Bahadur Singh have also approved two separate, but exact copies of dissertations written by Sristi Karmacharya and Indira Ghimire, on the challenges and opportunities in Nepal’s tourism sector.
Affiliate colleges are no better
DR Pokhrel sells theses at his Digital Photocopy shop near Shankar Dev Campus. When we told him we were looking for a readymade thesis, he immediately gave us the price-list: ‘Each research on accounts and finance would cost 13,000 rupees, and 18,000 rupees for English dissertation.’
Pokhrel told us, he has a team that prepares theses according to demand. While theses on English are outsourced, Pokhrel prepares the ones for accounts and finance himself. On our inquiry, why the English dissertations cost more, Pokhrel told us, ‘Preparing English dissertation is a high skill job. Hence, the costs are high too.’ Pokhrel also assured us about securing the approval, disclosing, ‘I am on good terms with campus chief Kamaldip Dhakal.’
We browsed through a few theses approved by Dhakal and found these papers were indeed exact copies submitted by more than one students. For instance, a paper approved by Dhakal and submitted by Mahim Bhattarai at Shankar Dev in 2009 was found to be the exact match of one submitted by Purusottam Lamichhane at People’s Campus. It is difficult to assert who among Bhattarai and Lamichhane plagerized their work, but the research was approved by Prof. Bishweshwor man Shrestha, Shreebhadra Neupane, Associate Prof. Laxman Joshi, Mangal Das Pradhananga, and Bharat Kumar Pradhan.
Similarly, Srijana Dhakal and Saptasingh Tamang’s work, both titled ‘Divident Policy of Commercial Bank’ also match in content. The research were approved by supervisors Associate Prof Ruchila Pandey and Dr Silu Bajracharya, and research head Prof. Bishweshwor Man Shrestha.
Pawan Shrestha, who runs Om Sai Photocopy next to Nepal Commerce Campus in Minbhawan also recycles old theses and sells them at Rs 10,000 a piece to the new would-be graduates. He disclosed that he had good connection with campus employee Rajan Lama, who not only helped him to retrieve archieved proposals and dissertations, but also to get them approved by research committee. Shrestha also shared that he was on ‘good terms with’ research head Prof Dr Sushil Bhakta Mathema and Madan Kandel.
Once again, we put the agent’s claim to test by going through archieved dissertations in the campus library. Indeed, most dissertations we sampled, approved by Mathema and Kandel, were repeat submissions. For instance, two exact works submitted by Surakchhya Nepal in 2009 and Rabinra Prasad Ojha in 2010, were both approved by Mathema and Kandel. Campus Chief Diwakar Pokhrel has approved both works. Another theses, submitted by Debaki Acharya also seems very close to above two in content. Mathema, Kandel and Ganesh Bhattarai have approved Acharya’s thesis. We found, Mathema has approved many theses on credit management, capital adequacy, cash flow and cost volume analysis, which are oddly similar and match in content.
After sampling hundreds of research works in more than half a dozen libraries across central departments, constituent campuses and affiliated colleges, we found, stationary shop owners and their agents, university employees, lecturers and professors, are close partners in this thriving business of plagerizing knowledge in Nepal’s university campuses.
The previously submitted dissertations are either entirely copied, or hastily edited to produce a new one for the clients. Those who produce these contents confidently assure their clients of a hassle-free approval, because the evaluation process is already fixed and everybody in the chain gets paid. Sadly, renowned figures like university lecturers, professors and academicians are leading this racket right at the top, all for money!
More worringly, we found evidence that the business of plagerizing has been going on for a long time in this country. We came across research works from three decades back that were exact copies.
Siddhi Bahadur Shah and Jay Satyal used the same data and passages in their dissertations ‘Performance evaluation of Agricultural Development Bank’ that was submitted to the Department of Economics. Both researches were approved by lecturer RD Singh in the year 1985.
At the Department of Management, dissertations on ‘Divident Policy of Nepal’s Banks’ submitted by Hariram Aryal in 1997 and Shivnath Prasadh Sah in 2003 were also exactly same. Aryal’s research was supervised by Prof Dr Manohar Krishna Shrestha and Prof Dr Bhawanishankar Acharya supervised Sah.
Two theses by Ajit Pokhrel and Rabindra Kumar Paudel on the ‘Divident Policies of few Finance Companies’ also have matching data and narrative. Both were supervised by Ajaya Prasad Dhakal. We found, many students of finance and accounts have submitted oddly similar dissertations on accounting practice, ratio analysis, dividend policy, and capital structures of banks, insurance companies and industries.
A dissertation is a work of research, which for obvious reasons needs investment of time and hard-work. Good universities around the world invest a lot of money into research. Students and their guiding professors contribute time and effort to examine and re-examine facts and phenomenon, or present new conclusions. These researches, in turn, are accepted as a resource for new knowledge creation.
Universities across the world employ plaigiarism detection softwares to discourage intellectual theft and promote original research. But, the lack of scientific mechanism to test research works in Nepal’s universities, insecure archiving, and more shamefully, moral bankruptcy of Nepal’s leading intellectuals, has led to thriving business of plagerizing researches.
Plaigiarism is not only morally wrong, it is also a crime against a society that holds scholars in the highest esteem. It is both, sad and ironic, those who are supposed to nurture and lead our academia towards new knowledge creation, are the patrons of this shameful business!
Centre for Investigative Journalism