Quora: What made Mahesh Murthy start his crusade against IIPM and Arindam Chaudhury?

Straight from the horse’s mouth…

Answer by Mahesh Murthy:

I have answered this elsewhere on Facebook, but it may be tough to make out a timeline from the fragmented posts there. So here’s some sort of general progression of events. This will be long, so brace for the ride:

  • 2005 – yes that long ago – JAM magazine writes about IIPM’s tall claims. See their redacted articles @

    @ and

    and @

    .

  • IIPM does the nasty – it sues the publisher of JAM in Assam – where she chooses not to contest because it’s too much of a pain to go there and fight a case – and a court order comes from there essentially asking her to remove said articles from the net. She does. Thankfully, others put it up so you can still see it.
  • At the same time IIPM runs a rather disgusting bad-mouthing campaign against the publisher of this piece, saying she was expelled from IIMA for lesbian sex and/or failing to get good grades etc.
  • Then a few months later, Gaurav Sabnis blogged about the lies that IIPM used in their ads. IIPM responded by blackmailing Gaurav’s employer IBM who it had bought laptops from – and this ended with Gaurav leaving / losing his job. More details are @Vantage point: An Update.
  • This pattern of publication followed by threats followed by deletion followed.
  • Then Maheshwar Peri of Outlook Group / Careers360 stepped in. He was quite aware of the JAM and Sabnis issues and went ahead and published an enormously damning expose of IIPM as a fake education company in @Best only in claims?.
  • The IIPM response was prompt. Peri got sued in Guwahati. But unlike JAM he went and fought there. IIPM got a stay order, convincing a judge that Careers 360 could not publish more articles on it till the defamation case was resolved. Once the stay order was obtained, IIPM then promptly never followed up in Guwahati and deliberately has avoided any further court dates since 2009. So it’s a stalemate there.
  • Unfazed, Peri continued. This time IIPM sued him in Uttarkhand. But Peri fought and won. The judge, in fact, asked for IIPM to be banned. @Think higher education! IIPM: Uttarakhand Registrar recommends a ban.
  • Meanwhile, every single claim IIPM made in its ads was falling apart. It’s apparent European b-school degree granter was found to be a fraud. It’s apparent collaborations with universities in UK and US were found to be non-existent. In fact, everything stated in IIPM ads was a lie. And as my friends at The Times of India tell me, IIPM has a contract with all print papers saying, in effect, “if we give you ads, then you can’t write about us without our permission” so they had ensured censorship there too. For a few years, IIPM was the largest print advertiser in India.
  • Other journalists tried to piece together a story. Siddhartha Deb wrote a balanced piece in Caravan. It also served as an intro to his book on modern Indian business. A lawsuit was filed against them. The book – actually the IIPM excerpt of the book was banned via legal wranglings. As was his piece. It is mirrored here: @Sweet Smell of Success- How Arindam Chaudhuri made a fortune – Pastebin.com.
  • Other found that in contrast to the apparent world-class education IIPM claimed to offer its students for their Rs. 15 lakhs, what they actually offered was a correspondence degree from MS University in Thirunelveli that one could get direct for Rs. 17,000
  • A host of “Delete” requests went from IIPM and its legal efforts to Google, various web sites (including Facebook) to get this content to stop coming up. Google said no way. Facebook complied.
  • Through all this, I just wanted to keep the content in one place. So I published a bitly bundle of links @Dare to think beyond IIPM’s lies & daylight robbery. Its distance learning 2-yr MBA costs Rs. 17,000 if taken direct from the same MS Univ in Tirunelveli. Why pay more to these scamsters? See documents below. to make sure the content wasn’t lost through the legal wranglings and the harassment.
  • Then all was quiet for a few years. I suddenly am told that this bundle of links is #2 in a list of links ordered to be blocked by the DoT after it received a court order from Gwalior based on a petition filed by some IIPMtard there. Medianama has a comprehensive listing of IIPM censorship attempts @3-7% Paid Users in India, Close to Global Standards – Linda Kozlowski on Evernote in India. The #1 link was the UGC Govt Of India link that called IIPM a non-degree granting body.
  • This pisses me off. IIPM gets a court to block what I wrote – and I wasn’t called to defend it? And it was done ex-parte? So I decide to engage.
  • I have a few Twitter followers now, so I start tweeting: Search – maheshmurthy iipm
  • I also engage on Facebook. Facebook sucks at content search and I yet don’t have its graph search so I can’t leave a robust set of links for this. But here are two https://www.facebook.com/maheshm… and I understand… | Facebook
  • By now this thing starts to go viral – and hundreds, sometimes thousands of people re-tweet, re-share and a significant chunk of India online figures out the man is just a scamster.
  • IIPM responds by hiring people who write on the posts under fake names and fake profiles. Allegations that Pinstorm didn’t get his digital marketing business so we’re retaliating (ha ha, bloody ha). I out the fake people, including one Krishanu Bhattacharjee writing as some Rohina Dubey.
  • He comes back with a “Happy 75th birthday Daddy” campaign across all print media to try re-instate his reputation. So I responded with evidence that his dad’s qualifications were also likely fake.
  • That was 6 weeks ago. There was a full-page Economic Times story How IIPM’s Arindam Chaudhuri built the Rs 533 crore business that did further damage.
  • And hey, things have been quiet since! I’m waiting for more news to break.
  • I have no particular grouse with this man – and didn’t have any for many years. I got after him only when he had me banned.
  • And now I do think he deserves to be outed. The world of education in India is full of scamsters and thieves. But none are as loud and loutish as this one.
  • I hope students stop enrolling with him, and I hope his business collapses – for all the lies he’s said so far.

Hope this helps,

My $0.02

Mahesh 🙂

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The Broken Indian Education System

I’m sure Thane would have had even better things to write had he studied in Bengal:

Most of my friends were 3rd years, like me, and all of them were obviously very bright. I was curious about what their plans were after they graduated. With only a few exceptions, they were planning on pursuing second undergraduate degrees at foreign universities.

“Wait, what?! You are studying here for three years just so you can go do it again for four more years?” I could not grasp the logic of this. What changed my understanding was when I started taking classes at St. Stephen’s College. Except for one, they were horrible.


This Indian defensiveness is false nationalism. It is not a stance that cares about India, it is one that cares about what others think of India, which is not nationalism. That is narcissism.

via An Indian education? – The Hindu.

Quora: Who do you think is the best professor in the world and why?

Definitely going to get a lot of nominations – just 1 from IIT so far though:

For example, I like Michael Wesch because he is fantastic in his pedagogical methods. Just check his wildly popular videos on Youtube or the incredible way of teaching with social media tools or the world simulation. It’s simply great! Who are some other great professors who you may have come across and what makes them so good?

Algorithm to write stories, read by Essay Grading Software?

First came the software to write stories based on data collected:

Once Narrative Science had mastered the art of telling sports and finance stories, the company realized that it could produce much more than journalism. Indeed, anyone who needed to translate and explain large sets of data could benefit from its services. Requests poured in from people who were buried in spreadsheets and charts. It turned out that those people would pay to convert all that confusing information into a couple of readable paragraphs that hit the key points.

Then came the essay grading software:

The EdX assessment tool requires human teachers, or graders, to first grade 100 essays or essay questions. The system then uses a variety of machine-learning techniques to train itself to be able to grade any number of essays or answers automatically and almost instantaneously.

The software will assign a grade depending on the scoring system created by the teacher, whether it is a letter grade or numerical rank. It will also provide general feedback, like telling a student whether an answer was on topic or not.

 

Just a prelude to the battle to figure out the loopholes in both with each trying to game the other?

via Four short links: 9 April 2013 – O’Reilly Radar.

College goer’s freeware toolkit

I’ve been suggesting quite a few software to my classmates over the last few months. So I thought of collating all the recommendations into one post. Here’s the list of different freeware that should be useful for different purposes.

Image editing

GIMP – This is the open source alternative to Photoshop, and the most popular image editor on Linux. It has a variety of features and there are quite a lot of tutorials available on the net for it. It recently underwent an interface overhaul.

Paint.NET – A Windows only image editor that should be powerful enough for most needs while being fairly simple to use.

Picasa – Not a full fledged image editor, but good enough for touching up photos. It serves quite well as a photo organizer, and is the official tool for uploading to Google’s Picasa web album.

Windows Live Gallery – Very similar to Picasa, with slight differences in the interface. It fills the gap for a uploader combined with a photo gallery for Flickr.

Video editing

Virtualdub – A very basic video editor (mainly for AVI files), useful for trimming and clean up.

Windows Live Movie Maker – The Live version of the popular Windows Movie Maker that supports publishing to the MSN online service.

Videospin – A very good alternative to the Windows Movie Maker. It has a host of features, and videos can be created in a variety of formats. I got to know of it from its coverage on the Digital Inspiration blog.

Audio editing

Audacity – One of the best audio editors out there, and a very handy alternative to the paid Sound Forge. Very useful for performing different tasks and processing on audio clips.

Screencast

Camstudio – A decent alternative to the paid Camtasia Studio. It supports the creation of screencast videos, along with the ability to record audio.

Wink – Another screen capture software that records images, but can also be used for making screencasts.

Document creation

OpenOffice – An open source alternative to Microsoft Office – not 100% compatible, but it has some additional features of its own along with support for other formats. The memory usage is on the higher side.

Lotus Symphony – Another alternative to MS Office by IBM. Similar to OpenOffice, but with fewer applications in the suite.

PDF creator – A handy utility to create PDFs from different sources (installs as a PDF printer).

Notepad++ – A must have replacement for notepad. Has a tabbed interface, supports syntax highlighting (useful for editing HTML, XML etc), and recording of macros.

Utilities

7-Zip – Supports most of the commonly used compression formats like zip, rar, cab etc along with its own 7z format which boasts of one of the best compression ratios. A very good alternative to paid software like Winzip and WinRAR. It can also be used to split files which comes in handy when sending large email attachments in batches.

CCleaner – One of the most popular system cleanup utilities. It clears temporary files, browser cache, history etc.

VirtualBox – Useful for creating virtual machines, like say for Linux which can then in turn be used for different purposes. Much more convenient than trying to set up dual boot configurations, especially on laptops.

Fun stuff

ComicRack – Very useful for keeping ones comic/ebook library organized. It supports various formats like pdf, cbr etc. Kind of like a media library for books.

Internet

Pidgin – A popular messaging client that supports most of the major IM networks like MSN, Yahoo!, AIM and GTalk. Definitely more convenient than having a ton of IMs loaded at the same time, granted that none of the advanced features of the networks are being used.

Flock – The social network incarnation of Firefox. It contains built-in tools for posting to blogs, uploading to photo sharing sites like Flickr, checking social networking sites among many other features.

Feed Demon – A powerful feed reader that is integrated with the Newsgator service (similar to Google Reader) to keep feeds in sync across machines.

RSS Bandit – Another feed reader that’s currently under development, but supports integration with Google Reader.

Portable Apps

PortableApps comprises of an entire suite of applications that can be run directly from a removable storage device like USB drives and external hard disks. It contains many of the software mentioned here. Some of them are included by default in the download, while others can be added using the respective installers.

The applications range from browsers and email clients to media players and editors, office applications to virus scanners among many more. Every portable device should include this.

Do education institutes need wikis?

Now that many companies have adopted wikis internally and are beginning to understand their power, why should education institutes be left behind. After all, the knowledge density in education institutes is bound to be as high as, if not higher, than in most companies. Moreover, content creation is part of any education process, and a wiki is an ideal medium for refining the content and making it available to a wide audience. So, what are the stumbling blocks in the widespread adoption of wiki or any knowledge/content management system for that matter?

Challenges

IBM has WikiCentral, an internal deployment of the Confluence wiki, and I was one of its 125,000+ users. We had wikis for our project, our team and various initiatives. In fact most of the documentation, FAQs etc of our project were on the wiki. So, we could easily refer to them and keep them up to date at the same time.

However, I have found a couple of limitations in wikis during my stint with IBM. Firstly, a wiki (barring wikipedia) is not the reference source (no prizes for guess the first) which means that even if we manage to aggregate a wealth of information, not too many people are going to actually refer to it. This can be tackled in some ways through publicity, which is precisely what was done in IBM. The second and biggest problem is the content creation part which is due to the lack sufficient contributors. Even wikipedia faces this problem (different scales though). I have ended up being one of the handful of contributors to quite a few wikis.

Wiki for SJMSOM

Finding the critical mass of contributors to sustain a wiki is the toughest challenge, and it gets even tougher with a tiny user base. However, I have not yet given up on wikis :-), and now that I am back to being a student, I find that a wiki is an ideal fit for this environment. There is a lot of information that is exchanged among students, and most of this would be of value in the future too. However, this information in the form of emails and verbal communication which makes the persistence quite low. So, a wiki with its persistence and ease of editing is an ideal medium to store all this information.

I did some exploration of different wiki options on the internet, and found two that were well suited: Wikia and Zoho. In fact, Wikia already has a section for students. However, Zoho has better access control (supports domain level access control), and I chose it as the platform for my b-school wiki. Of course an internal wiki deployment would have been ideal, but I’m just doing this as an experiment to see if it works out.

I have been doing some work on it, and the support for HTML embeds is quite handy for adding different widgets on pages. I have currently kept the wiki visible to the public with the ability to add comments. However, editing is restricted to students from SJMSOM (my b-school). It is currently a work in progress, and I am still trying to find the tipping point of contributors 🙂 . So, if you have any comments or suggestions, do share them with me.

P.S. My father has blogged on a similar topic “How Important Is Technology For Knowledge Management?”, and it doesn’t seem to be very encouraging for my experiment 🙂