Sunday, October 09, 2005

IIPM and online criticism

So, some people at IIPM are probably peeved by critical remarks of Rashmi Bansal (via JAM Magazine) and Gaurav Sabnis who were the basis of some rather ineffectual, though multi-pronged attacks after publishing their statements online.

Rashmi's magazine site was attacked by an anonymous blog with one post - which I guess we'd never have known about if Rashmi hadn't mentioned it herself.

Gaurav, though, was sent what purported to be an e-mail from the legal department of IIPM which not only claimed to be a "judicially notarized e-mail" (I doubt there is such a thing) but also threatened his arrest because he apparently provided "totally false articles" about IIPM "with proven deliberate and fraudulent intentions to harm the image of IIPM and related businesses." Hmmm. I wonder who they proved it to, themselves? And do they think thats all they need to do? Moreover, the e-mail allegedly comes from someone who identifies himself as the President (emphasis mine) of the Legal and Compliance Cell of IIPM. Interesting, isn't it?

And I really wonder why they deem Gaurav's blog entry damaging enough to threaten, but nothing is sent to JAM Magazine which, after all, has got to be more widely read. Of course, for that very reason, it might have some form of legal representation, even the most incompetent of which, I'm sure, will advise the IIPM e-mail to be a total bluster.

If IIPM is officially behind such actions, though, they need to wake up. As far as I can see, everything written on Gaurav's entry or JAMMAG's article is either a fact or an opinion -- neither of which can form the basis of legal action. As an institution, you will get criticized. Deal with it. The world is far more connected that it was a decade ago. People don't rely only on obscure rating mechanisms for everything anymore. From universities to computers, consumers rate everything online these days. Whether its in a blog, or a forum or a user review online, user experiences are in. Trying to suppress them will not only fail, but backfire. It may sound completely bizarre to IIPM, but consumers actually like that kind of empowerment and aren't going to be happy if you decided to take it away from them. A bad review by one guy doesn't hurt your reputation so much as evidence that you tried to squash that review unfairly.

I've never in my life given a thought to doing an MBA -- I believe quite strongly that management, marketing, finance were subjects God intended me to stay away from. After reading all this, though, I decided to visit the IIPM website to see if it really markets itself all that impressively. And after I did, I wondered why we're going through all this trouble at all. Anyone who visits their website and applies there deserves what s/he gets. And anyone who doesn't visit their website before applying there is living in the stone age anyway. Consider:
  • On their home page, IIPM proudly claims to have an area of more than 200,000 sq. ft. Thats right, a campus area being measured in square feet. 200,000 sq. ft. is two football fields. "Spread across India with seven centers". Wow.
  • Their cafetarias are among the four headers of "infrastructure" (the others being campus, libraries and academic centers), and the opening line states "Studies along with the enchanting aroma of food and beverages make a wonderful pair". What can I say?
  • The punch quote on the main page is one by Arindam Chaudhuri, who happens to be the dean of IIPM. I guess this takes "selling yourself" to the whole new plane of "selling yourself, yourself".
  • Their claim of "strategic partnerships" has its own Alliances page on their website -- except they have not a single alliance listed with an institution. Every name on that list (as of today) is an individual, and I find it hard to understand how such a thing works.
  • For an institution claiming to have "the most technically advanced infrastructure in business schools", their prospectus is curiously distributed in low-quality JPEG image scans which you can navigate by clicking on a link for each page. Heard of PDFs, guys?