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Assamese scholar speaks up on Sankaradeva article row

By Hareswar Borah

NAGAON, May 24 - Following a row over a news report on inclusion of an article on Srimanta Sankaradeva�s religious philosophy by Nagaon-based scholar Dr Sanjeev Kumar Borkakoti in a course at Harvard University, the writer has said that the inclusion of his article in the course was not unusual and it was confirmed through an email by a programme administrator from Harvard.

In an interaction with this correspondent, Borkakoti, who has been involved in the study of Sankaradeva for a long time and has written more than 65 books � of which 45 are on Sankaradeva and his religious beliefs, and in English language � said he was overwhelmed when he saw one of his articles on Sankaradeva was uploaded on a website named www.coursehero.com that claimed to be a pioneer website for Harvard University and others in the US.

He immediately informed some of his friends, and one of them urged him to bring it in focus through the media. Subsequently, that friend himself contacted some mediapersons who later took a telephonic interview and published the news report.

Borkakoti said that a WhatsApp group highly popular among Assamese people living at various places in the US applauded him after reading the news report. But a couple of days later, an online news portal � The Cross Current � created a controversy when it alleged that it was not a website linked to Harvard University and that the news was a �complete hoax�. Borkakoti said the news portal even wrote that the article was probably uploaded by the writer himself.

After publication of the news by the portal, Borkakoti was himself in two minds, and thought that it might be true, as he was not informed by the University itself. He though that he might have misunderstood the entire thing.

Meanwhile, Borkakoti wrote a letter to the administration of Harvard University and asked about them the truth through an email.

In response to his letter, programme administrator Dr Elise M Ciregna wrote, �Harvard University is not affiliated with Course Hero in any way, something which is acknowledged on the Course Hero course website. In terms of courses, I have no way of knowing if your article is used as a reading on a course syllabus. Readings (books, articles, etc.) are an integral part of most courses in Art and Humanities, so it would not be unusual occurrence. Any published article available to students via scholarly databases are legal to use in education.�

Borkakoti said the letter by Dr Ciregna confirmed that his article on the unique features of Sankaradeva�s religious philosophy might be part of Religion in the University and it was �not unusual�.

Borkakoti also said that the website www.coursehero.com was a tutorial website followed by students of various universities in the US.

Similarly, syllabus of universities in the US is not like Indian universities. In the US, if a department thinks any book or published article available in a database can be used by students as a reference, it can be done, he added.

Borkakoti, a professor of Anandaram Dhekial Phookon College at Nagaon, said the article was written first in Assamese language in 1999 in a daily and later the same article with modifications was published in a souvenir magazine of Srimanta Sankaradeva Sangha and finally uploaded on a website dedicated to Sankaradeva study by himself.

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Assamese scholar speaks up on Sankaradeva article row

NAGAON, May 24 - Following a row over a news report on inclusion of an article on Srimanta Sankaradeva�s religious philosophy by Nagaon-based scholar Dr Sanjeev Kumar Borkakoti in a course at Harvard University, the writer has said that the inclusion of his article in the course was not unusual and it was confirmed through an email by a programme administrator from Harvard.

In an interaction with this correspondent, Borkakoti, who has been involved in the study of Sankaradeva for a long time and has written more than 65 books � of which 45 are on Sankaradeva and his religious beliefs, and in English language � said he was overwhelmed when he saw one of his articles on Sankaradeva was uploaded on a website named www.coursehero.com that claimed to be a pioneer website for Harvard University and others in the US.

He immediately informed some of his friends, and one of them urged him to bring it in focus through the media. Subsequently, that friend himself contacted some mediapersons who later took a telephonic interview and published the news report.

Borkakoti said that a WhatsApp group highly popular among Assamese people living at various places in the US applauded him after reading the news report. But a couple of days later, an online news portal � The Cross Current � created a controversy when it alleged that it was not a website linked to Harvard University and that the news was a �complete hoax�. Borkakoti said the news portal even wrote that the article was probably uploaded by the writer himself.

After publication of the news by the portal, Borkakoti was himself in two minds, and thought that it might be true, as he was not informed by the University itself. He though that he might have misunderstood the entire thing.

Meanwhile, Borkakoti wrote a letter to the administration of Harvard University and asked about them the truth through an email.

In response to his letter, programme administrator Dr Elise M Ciregna wrote, �Harvard University is not affiliated with Course Hero in any way, something which is acknowledged on the Course Hero course website. In terms of courses, I have no way of knowing if your article is used as a reading on a course syllabus. Readings (books, articles, etc.) are an integral part of most courses in Art and Humanities, so it would not be unusual occurrence. Any published article available to students via scholarly databases are legal to use in education.�

Borkakoti said the letter by Dr Ciregna confirmed that his article on the unique features of Sankaradeva�s religious philosophy might be part of Religion in the University and it was �not unusual�.

Borkakoti also said that the website www.coursehero.com was a tutorial website followed by students of various universities in the US.

Similarly, syllabus of universities in the US is not like Indian universities. In the US, if a department thinks any book or published article available in a database can be used by students as a reference, it can be done, he added.

Borkakoti, a professor of Anandaram Dhekial Phookon College at Nagaon, said the article was written first in Assamese language in 1999 in a daily and later the same article with modifications was published in a souvenir magazine of Srimanta Sankaradeva Sangha and finally uploaded on a website dedicated to Sankaradeva study by himself.

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