October 11, 2005

Fine print zindabad

What I do, and will keep doing till my eyes give out, is read the fine print. Because that's where you learn things. And two days ago in Delhi, I found some choice fine print indeed in a full-page ad in the Hindustan Times. Cut it out -- with several others -- to post here at some point. But on returning to Bombay last night and catching up with my mail, I find it is more relevant than I might have thought.

So here are those lines, right now. In the ad, they appear immediately below five different rankings ... well, you'll get the drift:
    IIPM believes that it is the #1 B-School in India in terms of COURSE CONTENT, GLOBAL LINKAGES & INDUSTRY INTERFACE. The above rankings don't reflect the same due to the inferiority complex and intellectually dwarfed unquestioning attitude that the industry and the media have developed towards the IIMs over the years. Through its various academic, research, global and industry consulting activities, mentioned in this ad, IIPM aims to make sure that the industry and the media develops the intellectual ability to come out of this unquestioning attitude and accept the reality, very soon. [Non-italics mine]

My free-ranging translation:
    We're ranked so poorly that we have to scrounge around to find some rankings, however obscure and meaningless, that we can actually put up here in our full-page ad. That need to scrounge annoys us no end. So we want to point out -- in a font so tiny we hope you won't read it -- that we're not ranked second-rate because we are second-rate, but because everybody else in the world is second-rate. In fact, they have an inferiority complex and are intellectually dwarfed. And if you believe that, you're just the kind of dude who's going to be thrilled with our course. So what are you waiting for? Sign up!

Fine print. As I said, it teaches you things. In this case, as I read these lines I knew that I need not read one other word in the ad. (And I didn't). The fine print told me all I need to know about IIPM. Which is to say, that age-old lesson: when you abuse others, you do nothing so much as prove that the abuse fits you best of all.

"Inferiority complex" and "intellectually dwarfed". Right. Tell us more, IIPM!

There's plenty of uproar over IIPM and what it has been up to in recent days, so much that I know I don't need to explain here. Except to say this: legal notices from IIPM, in response to criticism, are entirely to be expected. In one way, they serve the same purpose as fine-printed abuse. They prove that the criticism fits.

So Gaurav, good for you. You did a gutsy thing.

Though I'll say this: when Sushma Swaraj swore to shave her head if Sonia ever became PM, I wished Sonia had called her bluff instead of famously renouncing the chance. What I wouldn't have given to see Swaraj shorn.

In much the same way, I wish you had called those laptop-burner-wannabe's bluffs. What I wouldn't have given to see them burning their laptops. Like the abuse and legal notices, it would have said very little about you or IBM. It would have said everything about them and IIPM.


Note: No link to IIPM website above. They get no hits on my account.


Chenthil said...

This is fun Dilip. Linking it in my blog

Anonymous said...

Well said. I would have also loved to see IIPM students burning laptops in protest... Would speak volumes about their beliefs and values...

Vijay Krishna Narayanan said...

Rightly said, Dilip. We knew their class when we saw the threats they were issuing.

And from now on, I'm gonna read the fine print even if I screw up my vision.

Kaps said...

If IIPM had bought these laptops on credit, then IBM has every reason to get worried. otherwise IBM should not have given in to IIPM's pressure tactics.



Anonymous said...

absolutely agree about IBM. then the world, not just a small bunch of bloggers would have wondered why IIPM was doing this and not why IBM was. the whole sorry story would have come out. except, clearly, it is much more than laptop burning that was the issue. if the institute had say, threatened to cancel all future orders, then IBM would not have done anything else.

(about the inferiority complex bit, all I can say is what the big Marx said - groucho, not karl - 'you do not have an inferiority complex - you ARE inferior')

Anonymous said...

I agree with Charu. IBM was left with no choice.

What Gaurav did was very gutsy and deserves all the applauds.

Anonymous said...

Fine analysis Dilip.

I dont agree to the fact that IBM had to cow down. They could have stood up and said nothing doing and not accepted Gaurav's resignation.

They may be a powerhouse here in the US but in India, I guess they are trying to appease everyone and anyone. Their recent sacking of 250 empoyees in Bangalore for fudging expense reports is another case in point. In this case they did the right thing. The word is that they were pressured by the government to do it because they were asking for tax breaks from the government and the government pointed out to the loss in revenue.

In this case they fucked up. I am sure that if something similar had happened in the US, they would not have accepted a resignation, because then someday that person could have sued them !!

In times like this a higly litigious society helps !!

Michael Higgins said...

Hi Dilip
That was actually the fine print on one of the IIPM ads? And they still get students? How could anyone think such an institute could teach business if they write ads like that?

Suhail said...

Arzan, I believe that report of 250 employees sacked was from Intel, isn't it? I am not too sure, I didn't read the report, but that is what I heard here from my friends.

Anonymous said...


Sorry....I was wrong. It was Intel. The point I am trying to make still stands though

zap said...

Arzan - agree that IBM could have stood up to IIPM's pressure tactics.

On another note, the Intel incident happened only cuz of what they uncovered under an internal audit. And the figure of 250 is highly inflated.

Dilip D'Souza said...

I too think IBM could (and should) have stood by its employee and called the IIPM bluff. Bluffs like that must be called.

TTG, Shivam asked me to come to the meet when he and I met in Connaught Place a few hours ahead of the meet. But I had something else to go to, previously arranged, and couldn't manage it. Hey, I would have loved to argue. Let's work on doing it another time. I will be in Delhi twice again within the next few weeks. Send me a phone number, and don't argue.

Libran Lover said...

Everything is alright, but in this connection, there was no need to talk about Sushma Swaraj vowing to shave her head if Sonia became the PM. That was a cheap potshot.

To bluff is to lie. When you say, "What I wouldn't have given to see Swaraj shorn", you admit to believing that Ms Swaraj would indeed have shaven her head. So, her vow was not a bluff. And you know it!

The fact that you'd have liked Sonia to become the PM so that you could see "Swaraj shorn", tells us something about you, doesn't it?

Dilip D'Souza said...

When you say, "What I wouldn't have given to see Swaraj shorn", you admit to believing that Ms Swaraj would indeed have shaven her head.

Precisely. And I would have liked to see her without her hair. Thanks for your support.

Anonymous said...

er, Libran Lover (I almost got stuck on this name because I had a few questions about this - but I have a more important question) - do you also have a point about the post? which is NOT about the merits of SS haired and hairless. if you noticed, i.e.

This was once a regular blog but, after six said...

well put!

Abhishek Kumar said...

I wish I could have put it as well as you would have ... but it will suffice to say "Well said..."

Anonymous said...

What IIPM needs to do is simply offer a point by point rebuttal of the allegations. If they stand by their ads, how difficult can it be?

Instead they have taken the 'high ground' of talking around the issue. This is not only hurting their credibility (who cares!) but also the futures of many IIPM students.

Meanwhile, why does the government not investigate their credibility? Can anyone who can afford to buy prime real estate, start a management school in India?

Just like that...?!!