Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Because a Bully said, I’m Going to Twist Your Arm

Most of you must be aware of the storm brewing in the Indian Blogosphere: IIPM Vs Gaurav Sabnis and Rashmi Bansal.

Today morning brought the news that Gaurav has resigned from his job at IBM to prevent IIPM from bullying his employer.

IIPM, it turns out is a client of IBM and has purchased a large number of laptops from them. Apparently the Dean of IIPM wrote to IBM saying that the IIPM Students Union had decided that if Gaurav didn't take his blog posts down, then they would gather all the IBM laptops, given by the institute, and burn them in front of the IBM office in Delhi.

Gaurav resigned to protect his employer, IBM, from bad publicity.

It isn't funny anymore. IIPM, with its huge money clout, is twisting peoples' arms simply because it can.

Maybe IIPM will eventually get away with it all. But the desi blogosphere is ensuring that it is not going to be easy for IIPM.

Huree Babu of Kitabhana put it particularly well:
He didn't lose his job because his organisation told him they couldn't deal with the pressure, even though it was clear that IBM was worried about where this was heading: IIPM’s threats weren't, shall we say, on the level that constitutes a civilised discussion.
He lost his job because a bully said, I’m going to twist your arm till you take down those posts, because I don't like what you said, and most of all because I can. And Gaurav’s response was to see to it that IBM didn't get hurt, and to say, No, you can't. I won't let you.
I know how much anger this issue is going to raise. I know that some of our responses are going to be off the wall, I know that it takes considerable restraint to keep the rant nice and pure and invective-free.
But in the end, there are just two things to remember. One is that every citizen of this country has a right to express his opinion, that IIPM is trying to shut down free speech, and that it would be very, very nice if every blogger from India saw to it that we made their job that much harder for them.
Amit Varma weighs in with this on India Uncut:
But the blogosphere hasn't given up the fight. Desi Pundit, which has become a focal point for Indian bloggers, intends to carry this forward, and all the bloggers who have weighed in are listed in their post on the subject.

[. . .]

They are not scared. All of these bloggers have understood that the choice that they have before them is the one that Gaurav confronted. They've chosen to go with their principles. They know whose side the truth is on.
If IIPM thinks that by getting Gaurav to resign from his job, they have won a victory, they are mistaken. In my post yesterday, I had said that IIPM stands to lose much more than Rashmi or Gaurav in this "fight" and that IIPM should stand down and issue a personal apology to Rashmi and Gaurav.

Gaurav has only chucked away a job and with his qualifications he shouldn't have any problem finding a better one. Moreover, he is going to come out of this smelling of roses.

IIPM, on the other hand, is at a very serious risk of tarnishing its reputation for ever. An institution's reputation is very vital in education and takes many years to build. It is built by hard work and the quality of its students and not (as IIPM tries to do) by advertising.

Michael Higgins has this to say on the subject:
[. . .]
Harvard and Yale get the best students and the best teachers because they have such stellar reputations. Chances are excellent that these institutions will be at the top of the list even one-hundred years from now.

At the extreme other end of the reputation scale is the infamous IIPM. Instead of investing in producing a quality product, they have invested heavily in advertising. Most quality education institutions let their reputations do their advertising. I have never seen an ad for Harvard and Yale and don't expect to. But the IIPM apparently works on the P.T. Barnum theory of reputation: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
And he goes on to add:
But even a bottom-dweller in reputation hates to see more bad press in print or on the web. This might explain why this institute has been extremely aggressive in suppressing bad news coming from popular Indian blogs.

[. . .]

Why would an institution that needs to protect its reputation act so brazenly?
All I can say is, "Vinash kaletu vipareeth buddhi." If the time is bad one loses the ability to discern between the right or wrong. From what's going on, I doubt, if IIPM ever had a sense of what's right or wrong.

The least that IIPM could have done in this case is to think of its students and their future. Most bloggers who have posted on this have made it clear that their fight is with IIPM's management and that this should not reflect adversely on IIPMs alumni. But IIPM itself seems to be not giving a damn about how this controversy is going to reflect on the institute and its students.

If this issue snowballs, as it is threatening to, soon IIPM graduates, might as well burn their degrees rather than let people know that they come from a blighted institute.


Nirav said...

I guess you are right that the biggest losers would be the students of the institute. I really feel sorry for them, since this would not be what they might have bargained for while joining the insti.

anita said...

hi m, just read about this today - and found your name listed on the indiauncut blog. i also knew there was something screwy about this guy, but this is the absolute limit! good to know you're joining the good fight!

amodparanjape said...

Please tell Gaurav that I would like to know what legal, judicial and criminal action means and implies. (For if I am right and I usually am)all action under civil and criminal law is entailed in the word legal action. Judicial action is well beyond the domain of private individuals and enterprises.
As always we are with U and help is but a phone call away.