October 11, 2005

Gaurav Sabnis and the IIPM hoopla and Internet root servers

Got this story from Om's journal. And quite a bizarre one at that.

A well advertised MBA institution ( IIPM ) has been making some false claims in its ads over the past 2-3 years. After coming to know of complaints from former students, a Magazine named Jam Mag decided to investigate the ad claims. http://www.jammag.com/careers/articles/mbacorner/iipm/index.htm . They found significant discrepancies between what was advertised and what the students were offered. They therefore published their findings at the above link.

A blogger by the name of Gaurav Sabnis found this article and after clarifying a few points with Jam, decided to link to it. A few weeks later, he received a legal notice from IIPM asking him to take down the links to the article from his blog ( http://gauravsabnis.blogspot.com/2005/10/im-disconnecting-my-cable-connection.html ).

This legal notice did not have its intended effect. Therefore IIPM decided to employ another tactic. IIPM’s students use Thinkpads. IBM’s(Lenovo) Delhi office received a threat that IIPM’s students would burn their thinkpads in front of the IBM office if they did not force Sabnis to withdraw his statements or give a written apology. Gaurav had 2 options: Delete his comments/give a written apology or Resign from IBM so that IBM would be not receive negative publicity if IIPM did decide to go ahead with their threat. So Gaurav did something commendable(and brave) and resigned from IBM effective 10 Oct(Mon) http://gauravsabnis.blogspot.com/2005/10/update.html .

The blogger community is taking up cudgels for him and I thought I’d add my own. Somebody who has decided to stand up for his words in the virtual world from India in the face of such a hard decision needs to be appreciated. Now the only point I would add is that since he was in good standing at IBM, a hardware/software company should get ahold of him and avail his services.

Now coming to IIPM, so many negative journals/links will definitely not help its reputation. This incident has created probably 10 fold more headaches for IIPM than it intended to take care of.

If you are Indian, you might recall that in 2003, the Indian govt forced ALL Indian ISP’s to block Yahoo groups because a separatist group from Meghalaya was running a group on yahoo and disseminated its propaganda(albeit only to 36 members before this matter became a crisis).

The ban was in place for 10-14 days. At the end of the the fiasco, membership of that group had increased to 185. A 5 fold increase. And it left many Indians (and Yahoo) with a bad taste in the mouth regarding cyber policies of the Indian govt (the stupid arrest of Ebay India’s CEO Avnish Bajaj in 2004 too did not help the image of the govt).

A little off topic-

For this reason, I am quite reluctant to allow the Indian govt to control root server access for India. (http://www.ridingsun.com/posts/1128754761.shtml )
Troubled negotiations in Geneva have yielded an unprecedented result: the US may have to give up control of the internet to a coalition of governments. That sounds great, right? OK, well — some of those governments are countries like China, Iran, and Syria, who have horrible human rights records and would be expected to impose greater government control. Freedom to wiretap, censor, and firewall?

...European, Middle Eastern, Asian, and African countries could control the internet/www in their own countries by setting up a PARALLEL internet/www and making access to the US-controlled version either impossible or illegal for their people. They do not have to seize the US-controlled internet/www (hardware or transmission systems), only isolate it.

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