Atanu Dey On India's Development

The Blogger and IIPM: If the cap fits …

Here are the facts, very briefly. A magazine called JAM, did a story on a management institute called IIPM. The story said that IIPM makes tall claims. Many Indian newspapers carry full page IIPM ads. A blogger, Gaurav Sabnis, blogged about that and basically called IIPM claims fraudulent. IIPM served a legal notice threatening to sue Gaurav for a huge sum of money. They also contacted IBM, from whom they buy laptops for their students, to convey to them that they may stop that business relationship. Why? Gaurav works for IBM. So Gaurav resigned from IBM. The word got around and everyone and his brother is now blogging about the story–a rich corporation threatened a blogger and somehow managed to coerce him into quitting his job.

Everything you ever want to know about this affair and more is at Desipundit’s IIPM Blog Wars Redux.

My take on the whole affair boils down to, “if the cap fits …”

Are the allegations (whatever they are) against IIPM true or not? If they are, then anyone bringing it out into the open is clearly a threat to IIPM’s carefully constructed value of their degree. If they are not, then unless the allegations are made by some huge media giant such as the NYTimes or the Washington Post or Hindustan Times, no one would bother to believe it and no harm will be done. And if the NYT or HT were to publish lies about IIPM, then they have sufficiently deep pockets that suing them for defamation would be worth it.

So by IIPM going after a blogger, it has done two things. One, it has admitted that there is a good chance that the cap may fit. Two, it has guaranteed that a lot more people would know about the existence of the cap and the question of whether it fits and so in a sense would be trying on the cap in public any day now. I am not a betting man but if I were, I would bet that the cap will fit.

Freedom of speech is guaranteed to some extent in India, I guess. And I further suppose that there are laws against defamatory speech. The courts have to decide if the exercise of free speech in a particular instance amounts to defamation. If the allegations are true, I don’t see how the expression of the allegations is illegal.

It is a marketplace out there. Ideas and information get traded. We get a bit more informed and we can then exercise better judgement about which product is the genuine article and which are cheap imitations. Those who peddle the real stuff have nothing to lose and everything to gain whenever more information is available in the marketplace.

So all in all, I am sure that no harm will come out of this. I am sure that Gaurav will find a good job, lots of bloggers will find out where the lines separating free speech and libel are, the general public–and especially the students who wish to take courses at IIPM–will find out how good an institution IIPM is, and lots of people will figure out the value of public action.

Post script: Here is a test. The main stream media carries of lot of ads for IIPM. They dare not carry the story of IIPM threatening a blogger for fear of losing their customer only if the bloggers are on the right. But if the bloggers are at fault, the main stream media will carry the story as soon as possible because it will not hurt their business interests. So I would be interested in seeing how soon papers that carry IIPM ads pick up this story.

Post-script: Dear IIPM visitor. Please understand that this is not personal against you. It is IIPM and its greedy promoters who are to blame. It is too bad that you have paid money to get into the system, but in the end, someone has to lose. In this case it is you. But in the overall scheme of things, those who would have otherwise got cheated are now not going to make the same mistake that you made. It is never pretty when the market system exposes the corruption of a firm. But it serves a much necessary corrective function.

  • http://www.aseem.net/blog/ Aseem Bajaj

    Ref. your “test” in Post script, Indian Express did publish a story:

    http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=152721

    I am not sure if they have a lot of ads for IIPM in print. So I can’t validate your test.

  • http://25worldcountry.blogspot.com TTG

    So far the only carrier of IIPM ads is TOI. It is interesting to note that I got interviewed by a team from TimesNow, TOI’s yet-to-be-launched News Channel, on this very issue (as did Saket Vaidya of Vulturo.com). Now they have the interviews for a channel which hasn’t launched yet, and the TOI itself hasn’t mentioned ONE WORD about this issue – at least not in the Delh edition. The papers that have picked it up have put it on their metro pages (HT, Indian Express). But not a peep from TOI…

  • Sahil

    There are markets out there indeed; if only they were efficient. ;-)

  • http://http:onlyvoid.blogspot.com Shivani

    Slimes fears for its revenues :)

  • Pingback: Rajan’s Rambling » Blog Archive » Economics Analysis of the IIPM vs Indian Blogdom

  • Tushar Saxena

    Everyone here seems to make the assumption that whichever topic has a blog-rush, the general public will be sort of aware of it. Im not so sure. In India, even in my town (Ghaziabad), people willingly pay Rs. 20 Lakh donations to worthless “colleges” whose campuses could use some janitorial staff. I think IIPM marketing strategists are shrewd. They have made a good initial impression and wont even think of doing a volte-face (or even close to it). Once the impression is in, little Rahul who just passed 12th grade CBSE with a 65% average will have his parents convinced of paying for IIPM. (look at the buildings! Wi-FI? Oh Theyre in 5-6 cities! Swimming Pool). Education scams have (ironically) failed to educate Indians the way they should have. Afraid to say, unless it appears on page 4-5, this story’s goin nowhere.

  • Tushar Saxena

    Oh and Im not currently in India. I study at SUNY Buffalo.

  • Tushar Saxena

    And Atanu, your welcome (in response to your email thanking me for pitching in your defense against JW – “commies” issue)

  • http://puneetworld.indiablogs.ort puneet

    what you mentioned about main stream media is right ..

    also i have found iimp is induling in search engine spamming .. is iipm website spamming search engine

  • vinay

    iipm is a average MBA school with average placement, but decent faculty.. with there magazine Business and economy and there review of indian economy are quite good, so i have my reservation about jam story.

    Atanu’s Response:
    Now that IIPM has stirred a hornet’s nest, I am sure that the outcome will not be very pretty for IIPM. For people who generally depend on a carefully constructed image of excellence with nothing to support it, the light of investigative journalism is the kiss of death.

    I am fairly confident that the Times of India will have to start looking for alternative advertizers soon enough.

  • http://www.sandeepcentral.co.nr Sandeep

    I surely agree with you. If IIPMs courses have so much credibiliity they do not need to worry about any invidual blogger. IIPMs actions only show that there is something wrong happening at IIPM.

    Sandeep

  • Sarma

    We need more Gaurav’s in this county and less IIPM’s and IBM.

  • sreejata

    well,
    my brother has passed out from I.I.P.M and believe me,every word of the stuff that has been said against the institute is true.My brother was smiling from ear 2 ear when he read all this n said “though i kno nothing will change,becoz of the dean’s(of I.I.P.M)clout,but still,if atleast 1 person gets 2 kno the truth and realises it,b4 making the mistake,like we did,it will be “divine vindication”.

  • http://gauteg.blogspot.com Gautam

    IIPM advertises in most major newspapers of the cities it has schools in. So in Hyderabad we get IIPM ads in TOI, Hindu and Deccan Chronicle. They target the ‘pop papers’

    Check this article that calls educational institutions the ‘hero of advertising’

    Whoever would have thought Lakshmi and Saraswati would blend so beautifully together?

  • ramesh

    >>> TOI’s yet-to-be-launched News Channel,

    I bet, it will be a best porn channel around.

  • shibani

    Although blogs are not considered to be a part of “mainstream media” this whole blog war with iipm has had one irrefutable result-any wannabe mba doing an online search for iipm is bound to get links to blogs exposing them-thereby hurting iipm where it hurts the most.People, atleast a few, are bound to be more wary of over-hyped,over-the-top ads.Also although newspapers haven’t picked up the story as much as they ought to have it’s been picked up by news channels like cnbc’s tv 18.

  • http://spaces.msn.com/members/gopalms/ SloganMurugan

    This is a case for The Advertising Standards Council of India!

    http://www.asci.co.in

    Just inform them and they will check into the details in the ad.

  • Alok

    I wish to add something more. sometime back one of my students from IHM pusa went on to do his post grad from IIPM. i was shocked to know that they had a batch of over 600 students. they had this concept of g-60. the best 60 students who were assured placements . Once they got placed the institute shouted from the rooftop abut 100% placement

  • http://ergosum.wordpress.com Ergo

    Thanks for the link on my site.

  • sandeep

    Atanu….i have always admired your articles and respected your point of view…You said the jam story might be true and it may be that.According to JAM magazine IIPM passouts could not get good placement through college and in some cases cud not be placed at all, this is a major issue since IIPM boasts of gud placements amongst other claims,but we must understand that even a student of IIM has to prove his worth in the interview with the company….most of the IIPM students who JAM people interviewd could not get placed through the college..Since I have frens who have got good placements from IIPM and I also know that they all were hardworking and sincere students…so the students who cud not get a job through the college,there incompetencies can not be ruled out as a reason. I also know students who were IIPM students and they were not at all sincere, they did not get a job through the college, they forget that they did not study in college but they do not forget to blame the college for it. Other issues such as there full page advertisements is nothin but shrewd marketing and they are able to sell there services with that…so why wouldn’t they do it..has coke or pepsi stopped advertising…with big celebs endorsing for them and vouching for purity…answers that ques…Other issues such as IIPM ratings…They mention ratings in accordance to industry interface, since IIPM is the only college which takes the students for seminars around the world…probably supports this claim. JAM also mentioned that they charge a high fees, and students pay extra for the trip…now this issue is for the student to decide whether he wants to shed that much amount or not. We cant really blame the institute if there are enough ppl to buy it. Another thing mentioned in JAM was swimming pool and infrastructure….now again there is no such option for anyone to pay the fees online…anyone who wants to enroll in iipm has to go to the college and pay the fees…that is a good time for the student to take a look at the infratructure and decide whether he wants to take admission or not. JAM mentions students who agree that IIPM is bad, why din they find the infrastructure bad when they became a part of it. Im a neutral person…if the allegations made by JAM are proved then it is good but still issues(such as swimming pool,trip, fees etc) which are irrelevant still would not be justified.

  • sandeep

    Atanu….i have always admired your articles and respected your point of view…You said the jam story might be true and it may be that.According to JAM magazine IIPM passouts could not get good placement through college and in some cases cud not be placed at all, this is a major issue since IIPM boasts of gud placements amongst other claims,but we must understand that even a student of IIM has to prove his worth in the interview with the company….most of the IIPM students who JAM people interviewd could not get placed through the college..Since I have frens who have got good placements from IIPM and I also know that they all were hardworking and sincere students…so the students who cud not get a job through the college,there incompetencies can not be ruled out as a reason. I also know students who were IIPM students and they were not at all sincere, they did not get a job through the college, they forget that they did not study in college but they do not forget to blame the college for it. Other issues such as there full page advertisements is nothin but shrewd marketing and they are able to sell there services with that…so why wouldn’t they do it..has coke or pepsi stopped advertising…with big celebs endorsing for them and vouching for purity…answers that ques…Other issues such as IIPM ratings…They mention ratings in accordance to industry interface, since IIPM is the only college which takes the students for seminars around the world…probably supports this claim. JAM also mentioned that they charge a high fees, and students pay extra for the trip…now this issue is for the student to decide whether he wants to shed that much amount or not. We cant really blame the institute if there are enough ppl to buy it. Another thing mentioned in JAM was swimming pool and infrastructure….now again there is no such option for anyone to pay the fees online…anyone who wants to enroll in iipm has to go to the college and pay the fees…that is a good time for the student to take a look at the infratructure and decide whether he wants to take admission or not. JAM mentions students who agree that IIPM is bad, why din they find the infrastructure bad when they became a part of it. Im a neutral person…if the allegations made by JAM are proved then it is good but still issues(such as swimming pool,trip, fees etc) which are irrelevant still would not be justified.

  • arpit jain

    I am going to take admission in IIPM. When i got to know about..JAM………I really very shocked. It is true that they are charging a huge fees from you but still it is providing qualitative education in business administration. So far i am concerned about placements, It is true for some students not to get any campus placements but the rest getting good placements…..
    I just know one thing if not IIM’s(they are like a politicians who wanted to give education a less no. of persons then required) than IIPM because a lot no. of educational institute doing the same or more….Why only IIPM………

  • http://www.aquadist.com Narender

    i want to join mba next year in iipm mba college chennai branch.,as i comes to know about it throw many adds,but once i heared its not much good college,but my father is also insisting on joining Missisippi University.. so that I shall succeed them in aquabot in near future,any how please someone have any knowledge on it then please help me. u can also mail me on mmd_zubair@yahoo.com ,hope we will have a great friendship.,

  • http://www.integritymbs.com Accounting Solution

    I am doing my mba from iipm hyderabad and will end my course in 2008 august will you suggest about job after?i want to know which kind of job i will get will it what salary can i expect where will i get a job in india or abroad.