By Nidhi Khurana:
“I am an amateur writer. I dabble with my words and thoughts to express my opinion about the things happening around me. Satire is my favourite genre. I am also born in a free democratic country where ‘Freedom to Speech’ is my fundamental right.”
Well, that is how I thought when I ever said anything about anything. But the recent controversy around the banning of anti-IIPM (Indian Institute of Planning and Management) content has left me stunned and dazed and I dread that I might also get sued or blocked for expressing myself here.
Arindam Chaudhuri, the director of IIPM think tank sued some of the organizations and individuals for developing anti-IIPM content over Internet. The list also includes national bodies like the University Grants Commission (UGC) and some renowned websites. Mr Arindam claims that the content on these sites was defamatory. Now the question that one may ask is: What exactly is being referred to as defamatory content by him? For that, let us first explore the roots of IIPM.
IIPM as a University was founded in 1973 by M.K. Chaudhuri, the father of Arindam Chaudhuri. The University offers a number of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in National Economic Planning and Entrepreneurship. The certifications awarded by IIPM are not backed by the UGC, AICTE, or any other government regulatory body. In July 2012, the UGC issued a notification regarding the unrecognized status of the university and its fake excellence. Now here is the point where the actual tussle started. This appears to Mr Chaudhuri as defaming the name of the University. Well, Really? What is being defamed? A university that should get itself an accreditation. A university that sells degrees in the name of excellence. I am deliberately using the phrase ‘sells degrees’ because it charges lakhs of rupees to award degrees to students that are not even recognized by the UGC. The situation is funny more than anything else.
We, anyway, do not care about blocking of these URLs or the self proclaimed management guru’s lawsuits. Whatever content has been blocked has already been shared on a lot of social networking sites owing to the virality of the same. Apparently, it has been circulated more than this professor could imagine. Let’s assume that this was one more publicity stunt by this narcissist (pardon me). However, there is something that we should care about. In a state where critical thinking, criticism and satire are suppressed; there is little that can be changed about the society. A powerful democracy stands on the strong pillars of the media, the media whose role is supposed to be that of a watchdog. But the strong influence of the state and the big corporations (let us say IIPM happens to be one of them) has caused the media to lose its repressive power.
We are not prisoners to be kept in panoptic cells, under 24*7 surveillance. We have a voice and we have a right to get our voice heard. Criticism is to be taken in a positive light and the suppressing of voices is not the answer. Nor is the blocking of websites. Rather, Arindam Chaudhuri should think of the ways to defend the name of his university and restoring its lost glory. For, I will say what I feel