Tuesday, September 13, 2011
IIPM and New India: Interrogating Aspirations
I have just read the Siddhartha Deb's Sweet Smell of Success: How Arindam Chaudhuri made a fortune off the aspirations - and insecurities - of Indian Middle Classes. I had to read it from a blog, as the original article had to be taken down by the Caravan magazine which published it first after Arindam Chaudhuri sued them, and other miscellaneous companies, for publishing it.
It is somewhat ironic that the article has been taken down, because it is beautifully written. Mr Chaudhuri may not see this, but the article is as fair and as balanced one could be under the circumstances. Mr Chaudhuri is surely not an one-off: Arvind Adiga has already written about his kind of White Tigers. Mr Deb alludes to this, in a short reflective section somewhat buried under the burden of the fascinating narrative of Chaudhuri and his IIPM, and writes about the tension between the new, aspirational India and India of the old, as symbolized by the IIM kinds. This is possibly the key message of this essay, the understanding of the brash, pretentious, amateurish new India, as opposed to the powers that be.
As if to make the story come a full circle, Mr Chaudhuri has sued the magazine and the writer, all and sundry, and tried to kill the story. This somewhat shows how little he understands new media, though he prides himself to be a media entrepreneur, having dabbled in movie production for a while. He clearly did not understand that courts are powerless these days to kill any story, as the national laws can not control transnational nature of the media. The action also showed why Mr Chaudhuri is representative of new India: His insecurity, somewhat characteristic of a social climber, gets better of his judgement to face the truth.
Indeed, if Mr Deb is to be believed, and there is good reason to do so, Mr Chaudhuri runs some sort of an educational Ponzi scheme in IIPM, where new students pay for pseudo-jobs for older students, whose placement record is then touted to attract more new students. But, again, Mr Chaudhuri is not the only one who is doing this in India: Most Indian business schools are in the same business, or aspires to be in similar business. This is a sector in search of a regulator, which combines ultra-tough entry barriers for any outsider to enter, to maintain the privileges of the insiders to make hay. The sector is so profitable that most of India's corrupt politicians park their ill-gotten money in this business, and play the same game that Mr Chaudhuri is attempting to play. However, from his quixotic attempts to shut Mr Deb off the press, it seems that Mr Chaudhuri has started believing in his own spin, and being consumed by his own megalomania.
But, then, he may be fraud and a showman, but he can claim to be out there, seeking to play out in a sector where everyone else plays by proxy. From the essay, it seems he has surrounded himself with students et al, people overawed by his presence and without any critical perspective, a typical flaw in most charismatic leaders. But then, this is so common in Indian corporate circle that it is difficult to see why it is even a story item. Unless, of course, Mr Deb is threatening not Mr Chaudhuri but those around him, who would rather live insulated from any form of public scrutiny. Indeed, it does seem that Mr Chaudhuri has failed wholesomely on his public and press relationships, and mostly sees himself as a victim. But then this is very common among self-made entrepreneurs, where they sometimes think that world colludes to make them fail. But, again, Mr Chaudhuri, the management guru, should understand that it is time he gets a media coach of some sort and reinvent himself.
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the...
Lean has come to Education too, but it needs some special consideration. Education Start-Up is no longer an oxymoron, but a real thing...
I came across a deeply insightful article by Vivek Wadhwa pointing out that the most successful companies in Silicon Valley are not focus...
There is this lovable term used in England - The Flat White Economy! For the uninitiated, this comes from the variety of coffee the twenty...
In the last 24 hours, I had two very contrasting experiences with air travel, which, I believe, illustrate how to (and not to) compete glo...
I have been working on Corporate Training market in India for a while, though it is strictly not in the scope of the business that we do. Ou...
That Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Bengali Polymath, Nobel Laureate and thinker, is one of the key influencers behind the idea of Mod...
I was asked recently in a NDTV interview: What do you think Tagore would if he was alive today? My answer was that he would remain, first ...
If this blog needed a purpose, I have one now. I started writing just for the sake of writing, and later, used this space for reflecting o...
Max H Bazerman and Ann E Tenbrunsel write about Ethical Breakdowns in organizations. They are concerned about the sort of ethical problems ...
How To Live
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Theodore Roosevelt
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T S Eliot
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.