Oct 112005
 

I like companies and organisations. I own part of one, and all my working life worked for the other. And one day I hope that my little compay will grow up to embody all the good things that organisations are supposed to.

On the other hand, i have issues with corporations. I always have had. The same kind of issues that I have with Government. Primarily, that they take themselves far too seriously. And all my remaining issues stem from that.

Whether it is a Roche, or a Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, or Enron, or indeed one of the Big Five Artur Anderson … all of them, and many more have subverted the cause of justice and fairplay … and got caught in the process. Somehow, to speak out against the Government is an indication of freedom of speech. To question the processes and practices of corporations is being anti business and slanderous.

So I can complain about the service of an Air India, or crib about the queues at State Bank of India, or wail about the quality of programming on Doordarshan, or the quality of education and facilities provided by UGC funded or AICTE recognised univerisities. But, dare I speak out against shoddy service on a private airline, or the hidden charges of a private/MNC bank, content in a leading newspaper, or a private ‘institute’ then all hell breaks loose. My reponse to those who seek to intimidate is just one phrase …. “fuck off” … i think that ordinary people and ordinary bloggers have had it with corporations and governments trying to intimidate them. Collectively we are taking a stand and saying “Rok Sake to Rok Lo” :)

Fellow Bloggers, Gaurav Sabnis and Rashmi Bansal are in thecross hairs of a large and powerful corporation with seemingly deep pockets, that doesn’t seem to have any problems in intimidating, threatening, slandering, sexually harassing, hounding and indulging in behaviour that would be criminal on part of an individual.

Gaurav resigned from IBM because:

He (senior exec from IBM) said that he had communicated to Iipm that I had made a personal post and IBM could not be held responsible for it. But apparently, the Dean of IIPM wrote him a mail saying that the IIPM Students Union had decided that if my blog posts were not deleted, then they would gather all the Thinkpads they had been given by the institute, and burn them in front of the IBM office in Delhi. Yes, that’s right. Burn laptops!”

Gaurav wanted to neither delete his posts nor embarass IBM – so he did the honourable thing and resigned. Hats off to him. Not many people in today’s would be able to take a stand like this for the freedom of speech.

Having said that he could have let them burn the laptops. It is really no great shakes, and would have probably allowed more public glare on the corporation. Afterall IBM doesn not technically own the Think Pad brand. It sold it last year in an over billion dollar deal to the Chinese giant Lenovo. Imagine a leading B-school that does not know this fact. I really can’t imagine a Chinese company taking the threat of PC buring very seriously. They would probably see it as an opportunity to sell more Think Pads. I hope IBM does the honourable thing and refuses to get intimidated by threats, and refuses to accept Gaurav’s resignation.

Funnily enough after being spontaneously conceived on the 5th of October, making a b-line to Rashmi’s blog to insult, threaten, proposition and intidimate her – a number of blogs in defence of IIPM seem to have gone seemingly silent spontaneously self combusted.

I think all of us in blogdom and civil life need to take up and speak up about this cause. Any of us could be next on any cause that we write about.

other bloggers takingup the cause:

Press Talk, Varun’s Thoughtful Chaos, Srini, The Arbit Council, DesiPundit, Anshul, Charu, Patrix, Muthuvel, Thalassa Mikra, Jagan, Vijay Krishna, Vatsan, Mridula, Jo, Varna, Amrit Hallan, Ash, Shivam Vij, Swaroop, Jujitsu Mode, Uma, Abi, Toufeeq Hussain, Shub,
Ranj, Abhishek, Rajan, Havoc, Kaushik, Chandru, Alpha-Q, Mandar, Kaushal, Chenthil, Tony, Bonatellis, Apurv Pandit, Scudie, Press Talk-K, Sriyansa, Miss J, Neha,TablePost.Com,Chitthacharcha (Hindi), Sujatha,Hitchiker,Sowmya, Saket, Dhananjay, Sriram, The Comic Project, Jai Arjun Singh, Secular Right India, Jaya Jha, Navin, Sudhish Kamath, Ravikiran,

links and sites shamelessy whacked from Kaps (please please don’t send me a legal notice :) . The updated list can be found at his site.

Other reading:
Amit Varma on a Question of Principles.
Michael Higgins on Reputation as a Business Asset
Gawker with two cracker posts here and here.
Ravikiran’s Outrage
Sepia Mutiny on the same issue here.

Finally:
I really don’t have an issue with a company trying to defend its turf. IIPM or any other company will try and maintain whatever advantage they have in a cut throat market. I know how my partners and I get geared for battle to protect our company. But there are certain lines no one crosses. If this entire episode had been about Rashmi and Gaurav receiving legal notices from the institute, I doubt that there would have been this kind of furore. I can’t remember this kind of outrage when Mediaah shut down under threat of legal action from Benett & Coleman. That is a part of the game. But, what has got everyone’s collective goats has been the blatant, unashamed and naked display of power and money. And that really stinks. And, no. I am sure that they do not teach this at the IIM’s !