Remembering Manjunath Shanmugam

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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.
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20 thoughts on “Remembering Manjunath Shanmugam”

  1. Yes, I'm surprised that I didn't read this or maybe it was 'hidden' in one of the back pages and I missed it…The media is more interested in the antics of a B-grade Bollywood actor than people who contribute positively for the betterment of society…

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  2. Contrary to the belief that all IAS/IPS officers are corrupt, there are still lots of people out there who work honestly and diligently. If only the society would recognise their hardwork and reward them accordingly.

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  3. Sraboney- This news was in only a couple of newspapers as far as I know. I saw it by accident. No, the media is not interested in such positive news.Philip- Welcome! There are corrupt people. But ,as you say, there are people like Manjunath Shanmugam too, who work sincerely, but their work is not appreciated.

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  4. While on one hand we have this award on the other hand a nuclear scientist Lokanath Mahalingam dies and the first attempt is to pass it as suicide .. I have some of my very close friends working for some of the Govt Org and i have seen the transformation that they have gone through .. from an idealistic with dreams of bringing on the change to an apologetic and confused as they become part of system and not able to withstand the corruption and not able to mix with it as well.

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  5. It is almost impossible to fight the system in government service, as SP has brought out. Those who survive without becoming corrupt are those who remain honest themselves but turn blind to all that is going on all around them. No one can fight it and the one who tries will be hounded till he gives up or, if he doesn't, he is made to give up his life, as was Manjunath. That made huge news and it is a sad reflection on our media that an award bearing his name, which can go a long way in motivating at least some people to listen to their conscience, goes almost unreported.It must be done Manju, but who will do it? The media itself is one more business, no different from any other. So it will cover the Shiny Ahuja rape case but not something positive like this. Unless it is promoted by a media house.

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  6. '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.'I became emotional while reading these lines, Manju. I agree with you completely. I am sometimes bewildered at the way the corruption is eroding each and every nook and corner of our society, govt.etc. No one has got any conscience. Just 'making money' is the slogan.As Mr.Vinod Sharma said, no one can do anything. What he said is correct. Now, all the channels are shouting about Shiney Ahuja rape case and his family and filmdom supporting him.'India Today' used to write a one page story about 'people who make a difference'. They used to write articles about individuals who take steps to do something different, to help people in their locality. Now we buy 'Outlook' and I miss that article.Thank you for introducing the three good people to us, Manju. .

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  7. SP- I, too, have seen a few young friends change from idealists to disillusioned pessimists because of the 'system'. It is, unfortunately, not always possible to stick to your principles when everyone else have none.Vinodji- I agree, it is almost impossible to fight the system while in government service. Why only in government service? In any profession- cuts, kickbacks, and padding accounts is commonplace.But reading the account of the work that these three awardees are doing gives us hope that, though difficult, it is possible to oppose corruption.

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  8. Sandhya- It is true that corruption is everywhere and not many people have any conscience.But I sometimes feel that we have become so used to corruption, that we do not oppose it even when it is possible for us to do so.Like when we buy tickets for a play" through the back door via a connected friend", even though tickets are still available, and we could buy them after standing in the queue.It is just a little thing, but we do it without even noticing that it is really corruption.

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  9. I agree that it is the little things we do (or don't do) that matter. It could be a simple thing like donating all your child's old clothes and toys to an orphanage. But how many people have thought of doing that?To take on a system that is bigger than them takes a lot of grit and courage…they should have been celebrated for their efforts.

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  10. sunder- I suppose that's also true- most readers are not interested in stories that inspire, they would rather read 'sensational' news.Sucharita- I was particlarly saddened in this case because news reports on Manjunath's murder and the subsequent trial had received so much publicity. The media could have easily publicised these awards, too.

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  11. When the top echelons anywhere are perceievd to be corrupt, its a sign to the subordinates that it is an "acceptable" thing to do. With politics becoming a synonym for corruption, today corrupt practices have become the norm. If someone does something honest, people doubt the motive. I have had to run from pillar to uneducated pillar to get simple things done like add names on ration cards, when all documents are in order. Even for something like getting a cremation certificate sent to the ward office for generating a death certificate, they expect something. Those who pay money and get these things done fast are considered smart. Which is why, in today's society, and the press, Manjunath doesnt count. It takes an honest man to applaud another honest man. And any movement like the IIM trust that gives the Manjunath Integrity awards must be applauded and encouraged. I sometimes think someone like Kiran Bedi can do TV programs on this . So many more people will hear. One needs to keep up the hope.

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  12. Roshni Mitra Chintalapati- Welcome!Yes, to take on a system larger and more powerful than themselves does take a lot of grit and courage. At least an effort to honour them is being made through these awards…Ugich Konitari- "If someone does something honest, people doubt the motive."This is so true. In this corrupt society we are suspicious of the motives of even sincere people. Yes, the Manjunath Integrity Awards initiative must certainly be appreciated.June 16, 2009 11:10 AM

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  13. While working for the Govt;it is impossible not to be a part of the corrupt system.You may recall,sometime back AAJ-TAK conducting a sting in Delhi at the Sales tax deptt where 80 odd were caught allegedly taking/taken bribe.Whwere is that case?Why has the channel itself gone quiet on it?

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  14. It takes a lot of courage to confront the system and fight it.It takes tremendous mental strength to accept that our fight will be a thankless burden and one may even lose one's life in the process. There may not be anybody to shed a tear other than our own family members.

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  15. This is indeed inspiring.. As you say, we can make a difference – if we want and it need not be something huge.. The example that you gave reg the play tickets is so true.. Small thing – but it is corruption.. I think we as a people have got used to corruption too.. We don't want to stand in line for anything. We have got used to the easy way out.. And yes , the media is certainly more interested in juicy news.. why bother about news like this which only a small minority is going to be interested in hearing…

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  16. Mavin- "There may not be anybody to shed a tear other than our own family members."That is the saddest part.:(Smitha- I think most of us do not like to read this type of news because it because it makes us feel guilty.

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