Even as the controversy surrounding a plagiarism case against former Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Deepak Pental has grabbed attention, little is known about P Pardha Saradhi, the DU professor who filed the complaint.
A 57-year-old professor at the university’s Department of Environmental Studies, Saradhi has spent around 25 years in the varsity. In fact, barring a two-decade-long teaching career at Jamia Millia Islamia, Saradhi has been mostly associated with DU — first as a student and then as a teacher. In 1977, he graduated from DU’s Sri Venkateswara College in Botany (Honours) and went on pursue a masters and then a doctoral programme in the university. After teaching in DU for two years, Saradhi moved to Jamia in 1987.
Having published a series of papers on physiology, bio-chemistry, environmental nano biotechnology and bio-remediation, Saradhi also taught subjects such as eco-toxicology, molecular biology of cell, ecological and environmental plant physiology.
According to Saradhi, during his term in Jamia between 1995-99, his team developed genetically modified Indian mustard by introducing bacterial codA Gene under India-Japan Cooperate Science Programme.
At Jamia, Saradhi also supervised the PhD thesis of KVSK Prasad, another accused in the plagiarism case. Even as he fights a legal battle not just against a former DU vice-chancellor but also his PhD student, Saradhi said, “It is like taking action against my own son. It is very painful. I treat my students like my family.”
In 2000, Prasad had allegedly carried post-doctoral research under Pental in DU. During this time, Saradhi alleged that research data used by him was stolen.
Elaborating on the case, Saradhi alleged, “In connivance with Prof Deepak Pental, Dr Prasad had stolen the seed of codA transgenic Indian mustard developed by me and my team under India-Japan Cooperate Science Programme. Besides alluring Dr Prasad to steal GM seed from my lab at Jamia Millia Islamia, Pental allowed Dr Prasad to use this GM seed to carry out further research, fully aware that all GM materials are put under the tag of ‘Hazardous’ under Environmental Protection Act (EPA).”
“It is unfortunate that the data could not be used appropriately for the benefit of more students. The damage of research data is a more serious offence than plagiarism,” Saradhi said.