Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Count your chickens… they’re coming home to roost!*

The first time I took notice of Arindam Chaudhuri, ‘management guru’ and author, was when it was reported that he was making a movie. Nothing unusual about that, except when he mentioned that the movie was definitely going to be a hit because it was based on ‘sound management principles’. The pre-release publicity of the film (I forget the name) painstakingly detailed the focussed group interviews, the tracking of each ad and article for impact, the collation of data on a daily basis etc. Despite my lukewarm interest in Bollywood, I was curious. Would Chaudhuri succeed where the Ghais, Chopras and Akhtars had failed? Apparently not. Economic theories notwithstanding, the film bombed spectacularly, and that was the last I heard of Chaudhuri…

… until a few days ago. Two bloggers, Gaurav Sabnis and Rashmi Bansal, have been the victims of a particularly malicious attack for taking a closer look at Chaudhuri’s exaggerated CV and the tall claims made by his institution, IIPM. No sound management principles are needed to gauge the extent of IIPM’s desperation. The abusive, lewd comments ostensibly by ‘IIPM students’ on Rashmi’s blog and the threats to burn IBM laptops outside Gaurav Sabnis’s office (IBM being his employer) are proof that the bloggers’ investigations have struck a chord somewhere. In an incredibly brave move, Gaurav has chosen to quit IBM rather than delete his posts on IIPM.

In a way, this episode is reminiscent of the ‘Mediaah!’ controversy a few months ago. It’s commendable that Gaurav and Rashmi have dug in their heels and chosen to fight it out. Desipundit has done a great job of drumming up support for Rashmi and Gaurav, and even for allowing space for dissenting voices. Let’s show them how it’s done!

While on the subject of freedom of expression, there’s one bit of heartening news from the UAE as well.

Two journalists from the Arabic dailies Al Ittihad and Al Bayan were , for their articles incriminating the Sharjah Macquitted by the Sharjah Court of Appealunicipality in 1999. (Coincidentally, it’s known as the ‘chicken politics’ case.) The journalists lost the appeal in the Primary Court but the Federal High Court stepped in and ordered a retrial, which resulted in the journalists being acquitted.

What’s more, the lead stories in both Gulf News and Khaleej Times today are of General Sheikh Mohammed’s (Dubai Crown Prince and Defence Minister) address to the media urging them ‘to be bold, transparent and unbiased.’

Perhaps it’s spin, perhaps it isn’t. I’d like to believe it’s the latter. In the meanwhile, here’s another voice in support of Gaurav Sabnis and Rashmi Bansal. IIPM, it’s time to start counting your chickens…

* For those not in the know, 'Count your chickens before the hatch' is the, ahem, ‘best-selling’ management book by Arindam Chaudhuri.

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