IIPM, Indian politics, and why Government of India websites are so fun
Now here's an absolute gem. Apparently Dr. Malay Chaudhuri started his own political party and in the 2004 elections even fought an election himself from the Balasore Lok Sabha seat in Orissa. Why Orissa you ask? Well senior Chaudhuri was born and raised in Orissa that's why. The party is/was called Bharatiya Manavata Vikas Party (Indian Humanism/Humanity Development Party), and let the puns on the name begin! And not to be a nitpicker, but Mssrs Chaudhuri, if you please, Manavata Vikas does not translate as Human Development. Human Development is Manaviya Vikas or Manav Vikas.
The party was apparently started in 2001, as a continuation of the Manav Seva Kendras started by IIPM in the 1980s in West Bengal and Orissa. Now I was fairly strongly involved with the voluntary and social development sector in India throughout the mid and late 1990s, but honestly, I do not remember ever coming across such any mention of such Manav Seva Kendras. Just to be sure, I checked the voluntary organization database by the Planning Commission, India. No, no mention there (but that might be because they folded up).
But I was the editor for one of the most comprehensive directories for NGOs in India and their fields of operation, and I don't remember a mention of Manav Seva Kendra. I had worked for an organization in the late 1990s that ran a very successful rural mobilization programme in Bankura, West Bengal and never was Manav Seva Kendra mentioned. And it would have been mentioned, considering the fact that IIPM was fairly well known in Delhi even in those days.
Anyway, so the symbol of the party is a book, and their USP is facilitating the entry of professionals into politics. Hence, a curious candidate recruting process involving newspaper ads (media savvy all the way) and interviews. Only graduates to be given party tickets (I'm sure they verified that the claims of candidates regarding their degrees were genuine :) ). There are articles about the party here and here, and do take the time to check out the election promises and manifesto, they are particularly amusing.
And now you must be curious to know the record of the party. Well it seems even though most of the press coverage of the party dates to the 2004 general election, the senior Prof. Chaudhuri did contest one election almost immediately after forming his party (or did he form the party for the purposes of fighting the election?). This was the Midnapore by-election in May 2001 necessitated by the demise of the late, great Indrajit Gupta. Needless to say, since management principles can never deliver a surefire way to win an Indian election, Prof. Chaudhuri lost and was placed last among the candidates.
And confirming my impression and assertion that government websites are an absolute goldmine of information, if you only know where to look, just check out what I found. Of course every candidate has to submit an affidavit declaring his/her total movable and immovable assets, and the Election Commission in it's infinitely tech-savvy avatar, has made this information available online. I would certainly encourage others to make use of this info and check out the asset declarations of local politicians and then try and match it up with they know about them. That'll be a super fun game to play.
Anyway, focussing on Dr. Chaudhuri, here is is declaration of assets. Here is a relevant page, and another one. Apparently, not only does Dr. Malay Chaudhuri not own a car, but the only house he owns is one worth Rs. 2 lakh (approx $4500)in Uttar Para, Nadia (a small suburban town close to Calcutta) where he shares ownership with his daughter. Contrast this with the Jaguar and BMW that Arindam Chaudhuri allegedly has, and you think, damn, the old man is having it rough! Sure he does have around Rs. 22 lakhs (approx $49000) as bank deposits and savings but those are supposed to be the savings of a lifetime, small change for a man who was the Director of a major management institute till recently.
(Copyright: Election Commission of India)
And here is one of the most interesting parts of the story. Here's the part of the affidvit that declares Dr. Malay Chaudhuri's educational record. I reproduce verbatim:
Ram Krishan Mission Jamshedpur High Secondary 1953
Presidency College, Calcutta University BA (Hons) 1957
Berlin School of Economics M.Sc. 1962
Berlin School of Economics Ph.D. 1963
Berlin School of Economics D.Sc. 1970
(Copyright: Election Commission of India)
Ok, this is on record. And very, very easy to verify. So Presidency alumni (you know who you are), jog up your alumni networks and try and see if the Presidency connection can be verified. About the Berlin part, I'm still trying to make sense of this one. I know the German system is kinda strange, but a PhD in one year! And the Berlin School of Economics states that it started in 1971 on its website (are they lying?). Perhaps it existed in another incarnation before morphing into the Berlin School of Economics in its present form? Is there another Berlin School of Economics? The mind boggles.
So this is how the IIPM and Chaudhuri saga stands so far. I'm raring to dig more, but I'm hungry and I strongly suspect I'm hypoglycemic, and so food must be consumed. Watch the space for more updates
Disclaimer: I'm grateful to Navin for pointing this out. I submit that the information reproduced here (with credit and URL reference to the Election Commission website) is solely for information and research purposes. Also, the information in the documents have not been altered and modified in anyway, and the quotes have been reproduced verbatim.
Update: Here is a great post by Sumeet that clarifies some of the things that I've always vaguely known about the German education system. Saves me the trouble of having to email German friends.