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IIPM hits out at UGC, experts say blocking websites won't help

CNN-IBN
Feb 16, 2013 at 11:03am IST

New Delhi: The Indian Institute of Planning and Management is embroiled in yet another controversy as the government has directed Internet Service Providers to block over 73 URLs carrying defamatory articles about the private business school and its chairman Arindam Chaudhuri. These URLs include a University Grants Commission (UGC) notice on the unrecognised status of IIPM.

Arindam Chaudhuri has hit out at the UGC. In his response to the blocking of the URLs, Arindam Chaudhuri said, "Glad that defamatory links put up with a malicious intent have been ordered to be removed. UGC and AICTE are organizations full of bribe-seeking corrupt officials. Standard of education they (UGC) have created in the nation is shameful. IIPM is proud to have no affiliation with them (UGC). Hundreds of institutions which have nothing to do with UGC; then why aren't they issued notices?"

ALSO SEE DoT orders blocking of 73 URLs with content critical of IIPM, including a UGC notice: Report

Meanwhile, Cyber Law expert Pawan Duggal told CNN-IBN that blocking websites is an ineffective measure. "Blocking per se I believe is a field experiment and a failure because given the internet's architecture, so many distinct direct and indirect ways to reach out to these blocked websites, the blocking only helps generate more internet traffic."

Minister of State for Human Resources Development Shashi Tharoor tweeted, "I have written to @milinddeora asking him to remove the DOT block on the UGC website."

The government order comes after a Gwalior district court order. The DoT directive was issued on February 14, 2013. The list of URLs to be blocked, including many from mainstream news organisations. These largely includes those that don't paint a good picture of the chain of educational institutions headed by Arindam Chaudhuri.

The list of URLs to be blocked, including many from mainstream news organisations such as Firstpost, Outlook, Times of India, Rediff, Indian Express and Economic Times, largely includes those that don't paint a pretty picture of the chain of educational institutions headed by self-proclaimed management guru Arindam Chaudhuri. This action has raised concerns about free speech in the Indian cyberspace.

IIPM has a long history of being embroiled in controversies. Back in 2005, IIPM had threatened to sue two bloggers and the Indian blogging community rose against IIPM.

In 2011 IIPM had filed a lawsuit claiming damages to the tune of Rs 50 crore against The Caravan magazine, citing grave harassment and injury for its cover story of February 2011 issue which focussed on the institutes main man Arindam Chaudhuri. The article, titled Sweet Smell of Success: How Arindam Chaudhuri Made a Fortune Off the Aspirations and Insecurities of India's Middle Classes, was written by Siddhartha Deb, a contributing editor at The Caravan and a university professor based in New York.

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