Monday, October 31, 2005

Reshmi Bansal v/s IIPM ... the story so far !

Recent outcries by the blogger community, against one of the major Management Institutes in the country ( IIPM), for "threats", "legal notices" and "libel" against the editor of a youth magazine ( JAM ) has raised serious concerns regarding the authority, authenticity and credibility of blogs and needless to say has created much vigor among blog enthusiasts ( bloggers, readers and ones who leave their erudite comments ) to further their search and keep track of the events . Since I happen to fall under this category, it was but natural for me to follow suit.

This is how it all started :

June 15 2005 : JAM runs an in-depth matter-of-fact report exposing IIPM of wrong use of data ( polls and surveys ) on its website .
The article can be found here in JAMs webpage.

August 5 2005 : Gaurav Sabnis, ( an IIM grad ) and an IBM salesman, based in Mumbai , also an avid blogger, links the JAM report to his blog, Vantage Point, titled "The fraud that is IIPM"

October 4, 2005 : IIPM sends out a legal notice through e-mail as a "first notice of proposed legal, judicial and criminal action" to Gaurav Sabnis, asking him to remove these entries.

October 10, 2005 : Gaurav quits IBM , after IIPM students threaten to burn their IBM thinkpads in front of the IBM office in protest against his entries in the blog, to avoid a possible embarrassing situation for the IBM PR authorities. ( IIPM buys 2000 laptops every year from IBM )

IIPM issues a 17-page legal notices to the editor of JAM , Reshmi Bansal ( IIM grad ) ( in the picture ) , for the apparently "false allegations and wrong facts " about IIPM and in her personal blog and sues her for defamation.

October 24, 2005 : Outcry on the blogsphere invokes the mainstream media to take a look into the issue and CNBC-TV 18 runs a story that IIPM did not have the approval from UGC ( University Grants Commission ) to offer an MBA.

Here are a couple of other links vaguely or directly related to the same :

BMVP or Bharatiya Manavata Vikas Party , the party floated by MK Chaudhury, founder IIPM, who contested in state assembly elections in Orissa ( 2004)

The story as covered by Outlook magazine's online version .

The aftermath of the story and future implications :

a) This blogger v/s Corporate war has surely raised many a few eye-brows among the policy makers . Should blogging be broadly termed as independent journalism ? or should everything be generally brought under the much evolving Indian IT law outsprung from the Information Technology Act, 2000 ? Who or what would be the domain of this law ?

b) Blogging has surely turned into a source of understanding and general awareness among the general computer-literate world. Surely a media for mass-communication and one-click publishing, blogs are surely set to play a major role in bringing up the awareness among public.

c) Questions on what is responsible journalism. Should any sort of journalism owing to its linguistical eloquence be termed authoritative or credible ? What is responsible journalism ? In an argumentative society like ours, it is often very difficult for someone to be impartial on both sides and still put across her / his point.

d) The credibility of educational Institutions especially the management institutes that pool in huge amounts of money for advertisements and brand marketing should be questioned.

e) Prospective students , parents and public in general should be aware of the modus operandi of the annual surveys conducted by magazines and the results published there after. Selection of institutes for higher education based on these rankings/ ratings should not be such that they put your future at stake.

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