IIPM full exposed.. Be careful where you do the MBA next from ?
- IIPM When the chickens come home...The curious case of Arindam Chaudhuri, the Indian Institute of Planning & Management and Planman Consulting
Cast of characters
"Professor" Arindam Chaudhuri: A man who is incessantly advertised and promoted in the most hyperbolic terms by the organisations he runs. The publicity materials tout him as "a management guru", "a best selling author of management books" - notably Count Your Chicken Before They Hatch, an "iconoclastic film maker", creator of the "Theory i Management", an "economist by passion", a trainer of leaders, CEOs.... He is the dean, Centre for Economic Research and Advanced Studies, at the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM), a management training institute started by his father. Apart from that, he founded Planman Consulting and Planman Motion Pictures.
Rashmi Bansal: Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad alumna, founder-editor of JAM - Just Another Magazine, a monthly publication targeted at the youth. She is also a contributing editor to Businessworld and writes a blog called youthcurry.
Gaurav Sabnis: Indian Institute of Management-Lucknow alumnus and inveterate blogger.
Assorted bloggers: A few anonymous bloggers who purport to support IIPM and many others who jumped into the fray to defend Rashmi and Gaurav in the IIPM vs Rashmi Bansal and Gaurav Sabnis blog battle.
The case: IIPM brings out huge advertisements touting its facilities, its educational standards and its general excellence in the grandest possible terms. These ads exhort prospective business administration students to "Dare to Think Beyond the IIMs". According to an admission counsellor, IIPM charges its students Rs 5.26 lakh for its MBA course and Rs 8.85 lakh for its BBA +MBA integrated course, making it one of the most expensive management courses in the country. It claims: "What We Teach Today, Others Adopt Tomorrow." It advertises that its students are placed with some of the biggest names in India. However, the IIPM degree is not recognised by AICTE, UGC or any of the other Indian educational bodies.
In June, JAM decided to take a close look at the IIPM advertised claims. It published its results in an article titled 'The Truth Behind IIPM's Tall Claims'. Its general conclusion was that the IIPM claims were, to put it charitably, vastly exaggerated. And that students seeking admission to its courses should carefully check out what they were actually likely to get out of it.
The matter rested there for some time until Gaurav Sabnis linked the JAM article on IIPM to his blog, and added his opinion about the institute. IIPM reacted angrily by sending him a stern letter, phrased in legal terms, asking him to pull out all references to the institute, failing which it would sue him for libel for Rs 125 crore. Sabnis promptly put up this letter on his website. IIPM then sent a similar notice to Rashmi Bansal and complained to IBM, Sabnis's employers. Sabnis took the high ground, quit his job and wrote about it in his blog. Bansal too posted updates about IIPM's actions on her blog.
This triggered off a full-scale war on the Web among bloggers who saw IIPM's actions as a threat to free speech and IIPM supporters who reviled Bansal and Sabnis in the crassest terms. Meanwhile, "Professor" Chaudhuri decided to pay a visit to the editors of various media houses to present his side of the case. He visited Businessworld and invited it to conduct its own examination of the IIPM facilities and his credentials. He promised to provide all documentary evidence to prove the veracity of his claims. However, he also pointed out that his advertisements were models of careful wording.
Businessworld's investigation: At the outset we must confess that despite his claims of providing us with all help, neither Chaudhuri nor his head of corporate communications, Amit Saxena, provided us with the details we had asked for. Among the things BW had asked for were specific details on companies that come for campus recruitments at IIPM, salary details of the people placed, details about its faculty and facilities, as well as details of its study tours and other advertising claims. What we got from them by way of reply was a one-page letter full of generalities about liars (Bansal and Sabnis presumably) and the "inferiority complex of the pampered students of the IIMs".
BW, however, sent its reporters to various IIPM facilities to verify the claims of Chaudhuri, IIPM and Planman Consulting. Here are our findings:
The IIPM infrastructure: The institute takes in students at various branches/ centres - Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi. It charges the same fees from all these students. However, the swimming pool, 300-seater auditorium, seven huge amphitheatre classrooms, mini golf course, and other fancy facilities are restricted to just one campus - the one at Chhattarpur in New Delhi. The other places are fairly average affairs and can in no way claim to be world-class - unless of course one considers sub-Saharan Africa as the standard. Chaudhuri has a ready explanation for the ad claims in this regard: "We have only one campus. The rest are branches."
The IIPM faculty: Well, the bulk of the IIPM faculty is made up of former IIPM students. You pass out and promptly start teaching. Average age of permanent faculty: 27. Research conducted by faculty: no verifiable data that we could get our hands on. IIPM refused to cooperate. Chaudhuri has this to say: "Other institutes use people who have studied psychology and economics to take their classes. We are the only ones who have MBAs. And we extensively use Planman Consulting staff who have vast consulting experience." It is a nice example of vertical integration. You join IIPM. Pass out and join IIPM as faculty or Planman Consulting as a consultant. If you are a consultant, you also teach at IIPM. The loop is complete.
Being taught by world-class faculty: OK, this one is stretching the reality a bit too far. Faculty from the names that IIPM advertises so heavily - Harvard, Columbia, Wharton, Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford et al - do not actually 'teach' at IIPM. Instead of picking a subject and teaching it over some weeks, as is the practice at the Indian School of Business, they just collect students at an auditorium and give a one-time lecture.
The placements: The IIPM advertisement claims that 400 companies - including American Express, Coca-Cola, Max New York Life, Deloitte Consulting and Hindustan Lever - are involved in its placements. Here are the facts. One, IIPM didn't provide us with any proof that these firms actually visit its campus for placements. At least one of the companies - Max New York Life - confirmed that it had never recruited from IIPM campuses. Some other recruiters confirmed they did have IIPM alumni - but these people had applied directly and were chosen on their own merit, not through any IIPM placements. The big employers for IIPM students are IIPM itself and Planman Consulting. Many students go straight back to their family businesses. As for the claims about the high salaries offered to IIPM students, no documents were provided to BW. Chaudhuri said the ads never explicitly claim that the biggest names come for campus placements - all he says is that his students are placed in those organisations. A fine distinction.
The IIPM degree: The IIPM degrees/certificates/testimonials are not recognised by either AICTE or UGC. Chaudhuri makes no bones about it. He says it is noted in the ad. But it is tucked away in small print at the bottom of that huge slogan: "What We Teach Today, Others Adopt Tomorrow." In case you missed the fine print, you were not alone.
IIPM and B-school rankings: IIPM proudly says it doesn't believe in B-school rankings because it feels that they have a mindset problem which results in institutes like the IIMs getting preference. However, it has no qualms about advertising its rank in any survey - no matter what the methodology - if it can claim a position within the top 10.
Renowned economist/management guru status of Arindam Chaudhuri: Planman Consulting and IIPM consider Chaudhuri to be a management guru. Not surprising, given that he is closely associated with them. That apart, there is apparently an outfit named Om Venkatesa Society based in Chennai which awarded Chaudhuri the Management Guru of the Year award in 2000. Chaudhuri also is a bona fide gold medallist - from IIPM, the institute founded by his father.
Consulting services: According to Chaudhuri's profile, Planman Consulting provides solutions to firms like McKinsey & Company, Ernst & Young, Hewitt Associates, Samsung, Ranbaxy, etc. When contacted, people in these organisations failed to remember the consulting solutions he provided. Ranbaxy does remember Planman Consulting making a pitch to provide recruiting solutions to them. But it doesn't remember actually hiring it ever.
We could go on but that would be boring you, dear reader. If you are planning to join IIPM anytime soon, don't take merely our word for it. Do your research yourself...
With inputs from Tanmoy Neog