The Manjunath Shanmugam Integrity Award was shared between three shortlisted finalists this year.

Magsaysay award winner Aruna Roy presented the award to Jitender Chaturvedi at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore on Saturday.
The two other finalists were also adjudged winners of the award and will be given separate cash incentives.

The three winners are
Jitender Chaturvedi‘a homoeopathic doctor, set up DEHAT (Development Association for Human Advancement) in his home district of Bahraich in UP. He helped the villagers break out of the exploitation of moneylenders and forest officials. ‘

Vinod Adhau,-‘a village revenue officer in Maharashtra’s Amravati district, ensured in 2005 that debt-ridden cotton farmers received the government bailout package. He taught the farmers to use the RTI Act to get to know about their dues.’

and Sanjeev Chaturvedi -‘a 2002 batch Indian Forest Service officer, helped stop poaching and construction of a canal in Haryana’s Saraswati Wildlife Sanctuary. He also blocked a herbal park in Fatehabad in Haryana on private land with government money.’

I am saddened to find that only a couple of newspapers have carried a report about these awards. What is wrong with us as a society that a protest about some trivial matter is front page news, but we do not see fit to publicise the sustained long-term work that these three awardees have done?’

I remember the shock and sorrow that so many felt at reading the reports about the murder of Manjunath Shanmugam in November, 2005.

‘While working for the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) in Lucknow, he had ordered two petrol pumps at Lakhimpur Kheri sealed for selling adulterated fuel for three months. When the pump started operating again a month later, Manjunath decided to conduct a surprise raid around November 19, 2005. ‘

‘That night, during his inspection, Manjunath was shot dead in Gola Gokarannath town of Lakhimpur Kheri. His body, riddled with at least six bullets, was found in the backseat of his own car, which was being driven by two employees of the petrol pump. Both were arrested and the main accused, pump-owner Pawan Kumar (‘Monu’) Mittal, was held on November 23 along with seven others.’

Following his murder, S. Manjunath’s batchmates from IIM Lucknow took up the case and subsequently, a pan IIM initiative,“The Manjunath Shanmugam Trust” was registered.

‘With immediate objectives of fighting the case, they have a broader agenda of improving governance in Indian public life.’

‘ The main accused Monu Mittal and 7 accomplices were convicted of murder by Sessions judge, Lakhimpur Kheri.’

It is assumed that corruption is an inevitable by-product of democracy. But the sacrifice of Manjunath Shanmugam, the Trust established by IIM alumni which he inspired, and the work of this year’s three awardees of the Manjunath Shanmugam Integrity award, all show that corruption is not inevitable. It can be fought.

But we all have to believe that it is possible to root out corruption. So many people in Indian society personally benefit from corruption, that to fight it, it may be necessary to stand up against our near and dear ones, even against ourselves.

But this must be done, if the sacrifices made by people like Manjunath Shanmugam are not to be in vain.

This must be done if we want to make India a better place for our children and grandchildren to grow up in.