My tribute to Shanmugam Manjunath
20th November 2012
(This post has been published simultaneously on ankit9doshi.com and insideiim.com)
I first heard about Manjunath (in 2005) when I was 19 from a teacher at a class in Bombay who taught us Verbal Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. I wasn't really into the habit of reading newspapers and didn't know much about it. Actually, I didn't care enough to even go back home and check what she was talking about. I dismissed it as another IIM grad story - must have done something to get the attention of the press.
Fast forward 4 years - I was in a typically pointless class taken by a very uninspiring professor in my first year at IIM Indore. The guy sitting next to me had got a fiction book written by an IIM graduate to read in class. It wasn't a particularly memorable book either but still seemed more interesting than the lecture. However, at the end of the book there was a section on the Manjunath Shanmugam Trust and the story of Manjunath that caught my attention. Suddenly,the enormity of an event that took place 4 years back hit me. The story was deflating and inspiring at the same time. I almost choked with tears when I read a few lines of the yearbook message that his batch mates had written for him when he graduated.
The thing is that Manjunath makes me feel very little. I had never met him. I discovered him 4 years after he had passed away. But those 15 mins in the class were very moving. At that moment, the only thing that occurred to me was that Manjunath is everything that I am not and what I can never be. Courageous and largehearted. A man who will inspire thousands to stand up for what is right. What a legacy! Seven years later there are colleges across India who remember his courage and honesty.
Thankfully, there are enough people who have kept this story alive. And it needs to remain alive for years to come. However, what pains me is the fact that only when people die do we take issues confronting our own nation seriously. I also read about Satyendra Dubey later. The IIT/IIM world is supposed to be very elite and small. But even in this small world there are different worlds. On one hand you have stories of Manjunath and Satyendra and on another of people fighting over the exclusivity of jobs and companies that visit their campus. Of people outraging over the fact that their MBA school could only help them get a job of 10 lacs and not 15 lacs.
There will be many who will earn millions in bonuses, many who will win the best employee award and even a few who will start companies. But men like Manjunath are rare. Not everyone can be Manjunath. I am not saying let us all become activists. I am not saying let us die fighting corruption. But lets be inspired by his deeds to stand up for those small things in our lives. We may not eliminate corruption but let us at least put up a fight. We may not be able to stop telecom scams or CWG scams but let us report the bad roads in our area. Let us complain when we see someone stealing electricity in our neighbourhood. Let us not allow people in our building to employ children. Let us not pay a bribe to the Municipality just to collect the death certificates of our loved ones on time. Let us try to keep our surroundings clean. Let us vote for candidates who do not have criminal records. These are simple sounding things which aren't easy to accomplish and I haven't been able to do them either. But I do realise that I will not die if I show resistance. Because candle light vigils and articles like these do not create change. Because it is the least we can do to ensure that people like Manjunath and Satyendra haven't lost their lives in vain.
Let us all show some courage.
- Ankit Doshi
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