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Bloggers join hands against B-school
Internet chat rooms, forums discuss IIPM action on online journal writers
Express News Service

Mumbai, October 12: IIPM conducts its own programmes in Planning and Entrepreneurship (a non professional course) and does not teach any foreign institute’s courses. The MBA/BBA degrees are conferred by IMI, Europe, and is internationally renowned and does not come under the purview of AICTE, UGC or other state acts. Which means the so-called MBAs from IIPM are not even MBAs.

It was this post on his blog—a weblog or a shared online journal—that got Gaurav Sabnis (25) into trouble. Months after he wrote the blog on August 5, Sabnis, an IIM-Lucknow graduate, was allegedly threatened by the Indian Institute of Planning Management (IIPM) and decided ‘‘in principle’’ to quit his job as a sales manager at IBM.

‘‘After two months, I got a threatening mail from IIPM saying they have my personal details,’’ said Sabnis, who started blogging in 2002. ‘‘They threatened to sue me for Rs 125 crore.’’

According to Sabnis, he was forced to resign after IIPM—it buys 2,000 laptops a year from IBM—approached his employers, informed them about his blog and threatened to burn IBM laptops in front of their Delhi office.

With word spreading in the ‘blogosphere’, the incident has now erupted into a major controversy and hundreds of bloggers are standing by Sabnis and espousing their right to freedom of speech (see box).

One blogger who supported Sabnis was Varna Sriraman (20), a third-year Philosophy student at Gargi College, Delhi. On October 11, she got a mail from the head of the Legal and Compliance Cell at IIPM that threatened to slap damage claims of Rs 175 crore.

‘‘I did expect that some bloggers who supported Gaurav would get legal summons, but I was surprised that I was chosen,’’ she said.

When asked, A Sandeep, all-India dean for IIPM, said: “I don’t think so. I have no idea about it.”

Blogger Amit Varma says it would have been okay if IIPM had gone to court. ‘‘You can ask the blogger to clarify something, but you definitely can’t intimidate and threaten the person,’’ said Varma.

Legally, IIPM is well within its rights in taking the blogger to court, said advocate Vishwas Patel. ‘‘The organisation’s reputation is tarnished by such statements and if it continues to be eroded, it can resort to civil and criminal procedures under defamation laws,’’ he said.

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