news Friday, July 03, 2015 - 05:30
Arindam Chaudhuri never ceases to be in the news. If earlier it was for promising fake degrees, now he is back after news reports that the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) was shutting shop. In September 2014, the Delhi High Court had come down heavily on Chaudhuri and his father, and directed them to mention in their advertisements that IIPM did not provide students with a degree recognised by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) or the University Grants Commission (UGC) on completion of their course. In an interview with The News Minute however, Chaudhuri remained defiant and denied that he was winding up in the country. From calling the UGC, AICTE, the media and the entire country “third class”, here are excerpts from a loaded interview: The IIPM website had said that operations were shutting down. Is this true? No. We are not shutting down, but re-inventing the brand. Look, the announcement was made on the front page of The Times of India on May 11 that we were launching IIPM 2.0. Yesterday (on Thursday) several media organisations made nonsensical statements about me and IIPM saying that we are closing down but we are re-inventing ourselves, as per our advertisement on the said date. Courses on the IIPM campus will be phased out after the current batch passes through but we will now collaborate with other colleges and provide our best faculty at a fee.  Our programme has superior content, the books provided by the faculty are better with a focus on entrepreneurship, leadership and strategy. We have tied up with two institutes, one in Greater Noida (Ishan Institute of Technology) and the other in Hyderabad (Aurora Business School). We aim to tie up with 30 institutes by the end of this year, and close to 100 by next year. I will not teach stuff that everyone else is teaching, and I don’t want to be in this AICTE/UGC drama anymore. I would rather go to an institute and increase the quality there. The course content in most colleges is third class. Most of the college programmes have 24 papers in two years, but we have had 72 papers in two years at IIPM.   You criticise the AICTE and the UGC but the students will get the same AICTE/UGC approved degrees. Are the degrees not the same? No, it won't be same. After getting a degree in collaboration with us, the student won't be just an idiot passing out of some rubbish AICTE institute. My faculty will be teaching them. But that doesn't mean we are closing IIPM. This is just a new method. I did not want to run IIPM as it was, as this is a third-class country with third-class people running the education system. I do not want to talk to third class people which is why we have decided to launch IIPM 2.0. But you have been accused of issuing fake degrees too. People say that we gave out degrees. Where are the degrees? Which student had an IIPM degree? We never gave out degrees, only certificates. In this country I have the liberty to take class under a banyan tree and give out certificates, and no one can stop me. The business is changing. Uber has no cabs of its own like Radisson has no hotels of its own. It’s a simple change of thought processes. For 40 years we have stayed away from the corrupt government system and things like bribe rates which are lesser in Noida, higher in south Delhi. The media is also not writing about the corruption within the AICTE, which is a collusion between them and a third-class bureaucracy. They are hand in glove with the UGC as well. I cannot help it if the media takes the version of the corrupt UGC over mine. You are blaming the media, but how can you play the victim card when you’ve enjoyed their mollycoddling over a period of time? Who says I’m playing victim? I’m just changing business models. What favour has the media done for me? In spite of me paying for the advertisements in newspapers, they still write negative things about me. But hasn’t the media treated you with kid gloves, considering that not much has actually been written about you? I could die laughing. There was a time I was spending advertising worth Rs 100 crore in a year. That said, I have always been against the government and people used to call me whenever they needed someone to speak against the AICTE and the UGC. Education should be free. Do not harass institutions just because we are a brand. In September 2014, the Delhi High Court had prevented IIPM from using MBA, BBA, management course, management school, business school or B-school in their advertisements. Your comment? I’m glad you asked me that question because no one has asked for my reaction on it. Till September 2014, we won all cases against the AICTE/UGC. Then there was this other case of a private litigation being filed 12 years ago against us by a man named Mukesh. It was not a public interest litigation but private between us. We appealed to the court for the case to be dismissed. While dismissing it, the court said that they saw an advertisement in which we claimed to be giving these degrees. The judge said that IIPM should not be allowed to use BBM, MBA and the like on the degrees and added that our advertisements were misleading. My lawyer asked me if we had laid those claims. But when we asked the judge for a copy of the advertisement, I found out that the ads were fake. The website looks like ours and they had picked up my pictures too. We registered a complaint with the cybercrime police. I never bothered about the judgment because I was teaching entrepreneurship for many years. Sixteen years ago we changed from management to entrepreneurship. The court judgement is wrong. I have advertised with all these newspapers but not one of these newspapers bothered to check these ads. In spite of me being one of their biggest advertisers not one of them called to ask for a clarification (in anger). Not one media organisation wrote that there were fake ads every day in my name.   The Hindu has quoted the admissions in-charge at the Ishaan Institute (one of IIPM 2.0’s tie-ups) as saying that the technical collaboration is a “smokescreen” because IIPM students were unsure of continuing there. Your comment. This is a completely fraud thing. It’s a false quote and I am shocked. You can contact the chairperson of the said institute and ask them, we have a MoU signed with them. I will issue a clarification from their side. Chaudhuri did send us a clarification. It reads: “This is in response to your article today in The Hindu (IIPM puts admissions on hold) where you have quoted our admissions-in-charge Ms Anupam  She has denied the statement quoted by your representative. She has only said to an unknown person that Ishan Institute and IIPM both are seperate entity and having seperate jurisdiction. This year Ishan has an agreement with IIPM for knowledge sharing  to our students for betterment in quality education.It is a continuations process of each and every Institution to provide best education to them to to have technical collaboration for knowledge sharing..”. We at TNM had also contacted the other institute from Hyderabad that you have claimed to tie up with, but they did not seem to have a lot of knowledge on the nature of the relationship either. You must have spoken to the receptionist or someone like that. All the details are available on IIPM 2.0’s website. Would you say that the Arindam Chaudhuri brand is over? That is your way of looking at it. As far as I’m concerned, the brand is not in trouble. I have just made my way from one facet of the business to another. I am looking for new opportunities now and as the government is looking to promote soft-skills I would like to explore the area.