The Death of Honesty

Manjunath Shanmugham (27) , an IIM-L alumni and IOL employee, was killed by the owners of a petrol pump he had recommended be shut down for adulterating oil.

At the time of writing, only one mainstream newspaper has carried the story.

Some bloggers have pointed out the callousness and total loss of focus on part of the mainstream media for not carrying the story of a man who died for his honesty. I am not going to do that.

On the other hand, I would like to thank the mainstream media from shielding us from this piece of disturbing news.

Because I want to be entertained. Because I want to tell my next generation:” Always speak the truth. Always be honest. Remember truth always wins. ” without the gnawing feeling at the back of my mind ” Will this advice, if taken to heart, kill the kid?”

That’s why I don’t need to know.

But I do. Because of an incident that took place a long time ago. I was 14 then and my parents and I were returning from our uncle’s place on a local train. At some point, some rice smugglers got onto the train (who seemingly avoid octroi by routing their supply through non-conventional channels eg a passenger compartment), obviously without tickets and literally took over the compartment asking people to leave their seats and harassing passengers. Before you could say “CPM assholes”, the compartment was full of gunny bags and more ruffians than you could shake a finger at.

Some of the passengers protested, my father among them.

Then as the train reached the station, Railway Police men entered the compartment. My father went upto them complaining about these rice smugglers. By this time, the more worldy-wise passengers (except my dad that is) had slipped away as they knew something my dad did not—the Railway Police are the fighting unit of the rice smugglers. Yes sirree bob welcome to Jyoti Basu’s Ramrajya sorry Marxrajya.

Soon it was my father against a dozen RPF “people” who were openly threatening him with physical harm. The rice smugglers had, in the melee, made their quiet getaway. They then took my father to the RPF outpost where they were going to “take action” against him for obstructing them in performing their duties. What irony !

I remember being petrified at the prospect of these men hurting my father as my mother and I went and sat in that thana as my father was surrounded by more of these guardians of the law. Fortunately, their OC “pacified” his rank and file and that too after seeing Baba’s visiting card which had Professor, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta on it and thus being able to reason that assaulting my father may (may being the operative word here) raise a media stink—a fact that the goombahs below him had not realized.

So he escorted the 3 of us outside the station and I remember him apologizing privately to my father saying that he knew exactly what was going on, but so well-connected are the smugglers and the cops with the powers-that-be that he was helpless to do anything.

As I mentioned, I was 14 then. I had learnt my lesson—look the other way. Cowardly. Sure. I prefer being a coward than having a broken nose or being dead. And I am sure I am not the only one who feels so.

And thats why these stories deserve to be suppressed because they can only convince more 14 year olds that honesty does not pay. Now, we dont want them to lose their idealism, do we?

Am I being cynical here? I think not. A few blogs will be written on Manjunath’s death, a few readers will say “chuk-chuk look what India has come to”, a few of us will burn with righteous indignation before we bury ourselves in the sordid Abu Salem trial. He shall be forgotten, by most of us, in a day or two.

But his family wont forget him. They will always live with the feeling that their son died for being honest—-something he could have avoided without much ado. If he only had taken the money, he would have been still breathing. Like the rest of us.

What a waste of a fine human being.

So here’s my advice to everyone. Idolize Manjunath. Shed a tear for him. Discuss his honesty and the petrol-pump-allotment policies of the government over a cup of coffee.

Promise not to steal office supplies for a week. Err make it two days.

But do not under any circumstance try to follow him.

Remember that “Satyameva Jayate” is nothing more than a crappy Vinod Khanna movie.

Remember that.

And stay alive.

41 thoughts on “The Death of Honesty

  1. the one thing i don’t want to say to this is: “hi arnab! great post!” you will inevitably get some of those. and they’ll all be correct. still…it’s…cruel, somehow, to say that in this context.
    and to think i came here looking for a post so i could bitch about you (see my current post for reason).

    idealism is an idiotic inflexible obsession. honesty kills. all so true, dear god, all SO true.

  2. Hi Greatbong
    Indeed, a very sad story and a sad commentary on Indian society, too.

    But I think there is an entirely different lesson to be learned here. This fellow graduated from a top institution and could have had his pick of jobs. He chose one that was very dangerous. It probably paid well. Did he wonder: “why does this job pay so well?” The next guy will get even more. Is it worth it?

    The extra pay might compensate the extra risk, but you need to be realistic about this risk.

  3. Does this mean we stay quiet? If we stay quiet we’ll be allowing this to continue. This is _just one_ of the people who has died. There are obviously many more.

    Spreading the news means that these ruffians will be threatened. You are thinking in the short-term. Shutting up might save you in the short-term. But the root of the cause won’t go.

    “For every thousand people striking at the leaves of the problem, only one is striking at the root”.

    Are you saying that people being honest is the ‘root’ of the problem? Would you rather buy 10 bars of chocolate for 100rs, or 1 bar for 20 rs? One person’s life is nothing compared to that of many people.

    (Now, I don’t want to be flamed at. I don’t want death for honesty.)

  4. @Yes it is an inflexible obsession. Very true.

    @Michael: I am quite positive that this job in a Public Sector Undertaking paid quite below the average salary an IIML would get. Its a job that wont even be construed as risky because most people know the limits of their idealism and back away before their lives are in danger. Its only one man’s honesty that made it a dangerous job.

    Why Manjunath worked in a PSU is anyone’s guess—-but a lot of hue and cry is made that IIM/IIT alumnus are not patriotic and do not use their training for the good of their country. Well here was one who was doing something for the nation(at far less than the market rate which explains why IIM/IITS dont join PSUs) and see where it has got him.

    @Jetru: I wasnt looking at any root cause. And “spreading the news means that the ruffians will be threatened”….aww come on please. I saw on your blogger profile you are 17 years old and I can understand where that sentiment is coming from. [I am not saying this in a patronizing way…its good that you still have some idealism]

    But trust me, nothing will change. Except somewhere a family has lost a son. A brave, honest good man who deserved much much better. Look at the problem through the eyes of a grief-stricken parent.

    And you will see the point of my post.

  5. @Greatbong: This is a very poignant post. I appreciate your writing about the dilemma in life. What does a parent teach his/her child – the truth or reality – self-centeredness or selflessness? It is a catch-22 situation.

    @ Jetru: I don’t understand your point. I think you did not understand Arnab’s writing about the dilemma or confusion. He did not “mean to stay quite”. But the fact remains that we are in a quandary about a lot of issues in our lives. Facing the truth, being honest at all cost (even death) is one of them. To what point a person can remain honest? To what point a person can protest against dishonesty? Etc

    @ Michael Higgins: It indeed is a sad commentary on Indian society but India is not alone – this phenomenon is universal – it is also prevalent in the most powerful democracy in the world – US. Also one more point. I definitely disagree with your rational of this particular victim choosing a dangerous job for a fatter pay check. Are you telling us that all the IPS officers (who are also a part of the cream of the society – in other words who have the privileges of exercising choices regarding their careers) who always have the possibilities of losing their lives opt for this particular field because of fatter pay check? No – their pay structure is the same as other administrative services.

  6. Well while growing up in India, I always read in one form of literature or another that “One man can make a difference”. What it did not mention then and what I realize now is that while we know the one man who made a difference, there were several others that tried to do so and faced defeat often horrible outcomes like Manjunath.

    I have often been the silent observer rather than the vociferous protestor my inner soul desires me to be. The cause for that is my personal cowardice and love of life (for me and my loved ones) rather than the desire for justice.Everyone of us has seen or faced something like what Arnab has mentioned. It can make you be the next champion of justice or stifle the voice of protest within.

    I often ponder as to the choice I have made whenever I read articles about people like Manjunath but after a week, I will go back to being what I have become used to .. the silent observer.

  7. Amidst all the sentiment, what is forgotten are the inherent problems with the way gasoline business functions in India – it is state owned. If not completely, but at least to a very large extent, petrol pumps cannot be opened by just anybody.. the govt allots/licenses them (IOC is state owned, its top management is appointed by the govt, its not too different from a bureaucracy).. and you can guess how they are probably alloted.. you can also guess what is the honesty level of the people alloted pumps in that manner. Why would they want to sell unadulterated petrol? It’s not as if a more competent person is going to open a petrol pump nearby and acquire a better reputation by selling unadulterated petrol.. that kind of person is not likely to be alloted a pump in the first place.
    In this scenario an idealistic IIM grad marches in and decides that he is going to reform the unreformable system. That kind of misplaced idealism is no real use; he could have accomplished more by working for a private company that creates real wealth, not a public sector company.

  8. Dude,
    first time on here.I realise the incidence is of major concern and grave injustice but What is it that you are implying?
    1.Lessons you learnt at 14?
    2.Your sarcastic skills?

    Both of which although apparently cheered here, isnt of any worth in the context.
    If you are really that moved, you could do better than saying ”oh yeah, I learnt my lesson at 14 and all I can do at the most is blog about it now ”
    But what better can a reasearch scientist miles away can do ?
    Well, since you are in the business of advices, how about
    this– Atleast be graceful and show some respect for the man.
    And go have your coffee now.

  9. @yourfan: Thanks and do look at the first Anon’s comment below. Sigh!

    @Arun: Lovely comment. I fully understand what you say.

    @Debashish: Surely the larger point in this context. As you point out the way petrol pump franchises are handed out is through a non-transparent patronage process—there are no open bids. Obviously in such a scenario, petrol pumps will go to politicians and lumpen elements which everywhere in India, and more so in UP and Bihar, is often the same entity. Such a horrible thing was just waiting to happen under this system.

    @Anon: Dude. Its bizzare you found sarcasm in *this* post where there actually is none. There is only sadness and confusion at being unable to fathom what we should be teaching our next generation.

    Now I never said I am a social crusader or even an honest man…hence whether I am a research scientist or blogger is quite besides the point. Its obvious that by commenting on my blog you are also someone who has nothing better to do….

    And disrespect to Manjunath—where did you find that? Kindly refer to the comments above and see if anyone here felt anything but the deepest anguish expressed here in this post.

    Sad indeed people like you.

  10. Thanks to your post on jucse that led me all the way here… and voila, what do I see? a treasure chest of superb blogging! Coming back to the issue, the problem is probably too deep-rooted (corruption feeds families in India and virtually contributes to the GDP) to be solved by spontaneous acts of idealism. My heart goes out to Manjunath, but he should have known better. I don’t want to get philosophical here, but instead of acting on impulse, one probably should do whatever it may require, being within our bureaucratic system, however painstaking and immoral it may be, as a means to an end. The problem at hand is complex and someone (some Great One) needs to sacrifice one’s lifetime on it, not just throw away one’s life.

  11. There are three major issues in the post and the subsequent comments:

    1. Have we as a generation acclimatized to the fact that there is corruption and it is the way of life?
    Very few of us can call ourselves ‘crusaders’, but the least that one can do is stand up against the system and powers that be when required and not loose hope that there is a chance for improvement. Thats probably what Manjunath did.

    2. It is no doubt heartening to see that the IIM and IIT alumni (the main constituents of the brain drain of the 80’s and 90’s) are working with the PSUs and are standing up for the right causes.

    3. Honesty may not be the Best Policy always, but the choice remains with the individual on the ways to be followed. Passing irrelevant comments and demotivating people is not the Best Policy.
    Arnab, I generally agree to most of your sentiments on the post, but drubbing a 17 year old as an idealist, definitely was in poor taste.

  12. Somewhere between the dommsday reportage (for Rajdeep Sardesai, HT and the Express) and the euphoric news reportage by everyone else over Lalu’s loss today, a lot of media has actually picked up the case. Hey, even the Times carried a piece!

  13. Hi. I am of the view that in today’s world there is no scope of being a big hero in public. However this is not to say we can’t all do our bits. I am a big movie fan and often take lessons from some of my favorite films. In films like Schindler’s List and Hotel Rwanda, we see men, who use the system to do good to the people around them, all the while standing up for their principles as far as they can. Yet, they rarely mix up ‘rage’ and ‘courage’ (courtesy – Braveheart).
    I think that’s the way to live in today’s world, if we wish to make a small difference to the society around us.
    Manjunath was a good guy, no doubt, and I honestly feel sad and frustrated that a guy like him had to be killed and no one will do anything about it, but in all fairness, one needs to be less than idealistic in our country.

  14. My comment is for the anonymous who addresses Arnab as “dude” – @anonymous: What is your point – what are you trying to say? Why does it matter to you whether this blogger is a research scientist or a vendor or a janitor? If you have a disagreeable or an agreeable point – mention that specifically –and don’t beat around the bush. I smell a hidden agenda on your part. You wrote this gibberish comment just to masquerade your jealousy. Sour grapes aren’t you? The reason why I feel this way is that there is no point whatsoever in your comment.

    We did not find any sarcasm in this post. Also we did not find this post to be in any way disrespectful to Manjunath. The only disrespect shown in this post is for the smugglers and the corrupt cops. I have empathy for your dyslexia.

  15. @Greatbong: I read many posts on this topic, and I was horrified. But this was the only post that brought tears to my eyes.

    @Arun: Your words are spot on.

  16. Mr greatbong,
    I really don’t enjoy doing this , but its compelling to make glad exception here.
    You must forgive me if you don’t think my observations are worthy enough for your blog.I do get your point about ‘sadness and confusion at being unable to fathom’.Totally , trust me.
    But I think the whole idea in the blog esp the way it is expressed is a mistake. Let me eloborate.
    You ask me what you should be teaching our next generation? I take that was the intent then?

    But you seem to have already decided on that viz. the lessons learnt at 14,
    (In fact major chunk of the blog is about the lesson.)And you already know how to direct the 17 year olds. And I don’t see any efforts made even in the comments to explore about any ‘teaching you should be all doing’ except of course the gas pump licensing policies of the government.

    >>And disrespect to Manjunath—where did you find that?

    Read this–So here’s my advice to everyone. Idolize Manjunath. Shed a tear for him. Discuss his honesty and the petrol-pump-allotment policies of the government over a cup of coffee.

    This man gave up his life for a virtue we all value and perhaps most of us lack.And on the eve of his death, that hardly sounds like a tribute. But I know you didn’t lack respect for him but you have used him by trivialising his life and death to get across your anguish against the system in a sarcastic way.I don’t agree with the means you have used. And that’s what I meant when I said ‘show some respect for the man’. I didn’t mean you were a crusader, but as ive said you come across as utilizing his death to express your antipathy towards the system, which is disrespectful to the man.

    I am a research scientist as well and am equally moved and angered by the incident.I don’t see writing about him in this way as an option. Instead we wrote to the family expressing our feelings and respect. We may forget later, but some one wont.And it wont be archived.
    Isnt it, ironical that this blog was about honesty?
    I refrain from personal comments about what sort of persons we are and what can we do with our time.Im sure that wasn’t the intent. I used your designation for expressing your limitations as you are tied to do anything more, no offence.
    Have a nice day and if possible actually spare a thought on that.

    One final thing

    At Mr. Yourfan, for a moment I thought it might be actually greatbong himself.But I give more credit to him than that handle.So let me tell you just this since you have addressed this to me, Yeah may be im a dyslexic, but I am educated enough not to make it my business to respond to dozens of comments not addressed to me.Especially when I see no point in the comment.So there.

  17. @Babu: Great to see you here…thank you. At last someone from JU.


    Arnab, I generally agree to most of your sentiments on the post, but drubbing a 17 year old as an idealist, definitely was in poor taste.

    So Hutumpacha, an “idealist” is a slur now ! How ironic. Let me repeat what Jetru said:

    “Spreading the news means that these ruffians will be threatened.”

    Spreading the news? Manjunath by dying spread news? Raised awareness? Of what? That there is corruption in UP? That being an honest man kills? Whats new here? In other words, how are ruffians threatened by “spreading the news”? This is plain and simple naivette which I euphemestically called “idealism”. Which again is understandable coming from a 17 year old.

    @ K: Yes so they have !

    @Soham: Agree

    @Shruti: It indeed brings tears to all of our eyes…the entire incident is so tragic and so senseless….as I said…what a waste of a noble, honest man.

    @Anon: I also dont enjoy sparring with someone like you. But here goes:

    1. Yourfan, who is a lady and a long time reader and commentor in this blog is not me. Its possibly a reflection of your insecurities that you think that any of the readers who support me are as a matter of fact me myself ! Now I know you said :” At Mr. Yourfan, for a moment I thought it might be actually greatbong himself.But I give more credit to him than that handle”—but yes the point you want to make is very clear.

    Shruti in her comment says she was moved to tears by this post—and I can assure you again I am not Shruti.

    Now since you are , by your own admission, new here I see you do not know the etiquette of the blogging world. Yourfan is well within her rights to comment on anything you put in the comments section. This comments section is a ‘common discussion area’ and not a place for a 1-on-1 with me. If you really want to have a 1-on-1, there is an email address on the right hand side of the webpage.

    Trying to bully someone by saying “Hey stay out of it, I am not talking to you” just goes to shows you up for what you are.

    And do you see that among all the multiple personalities of myself who comment on this blog, you are (till date) the one who sees me “trivializing Manjunath’s death”?

    Of course that maybe very well because you see things others dont.

    Expressing my antipathy to the system is in no ways disrespectful to the man. It is the system that killed him….I hope you will agree with me there.

    My lesson at 14 which I see you are unable to understand was that it was not worth my father to die or get injured over a few sacks of rice. I am sure you would have sent me a mail of condolence but it wont have done me much good. All I would perceive would be the senseless of it all.

    And oh in all your comments, why this harping on “oh why did you write about your incident?” Why not? Firstly its my blog. Secondly its my opinion. And thirdly, what my dad did …whats the problem in me using that as a it “not that worth talking about” because he is alive? Whats your problem ?

    And I hope you didnt really mean “And on the eve of his death, that hardly sounds like a tribute”—eve means “before” not “after”.

  18. Arnab
    I don’t quite know what to say. My thinking is clouded by the tears in my eyes as I read the post. very well written.

    I know the exact feeling, but is it still living when you don’t live the life you want to? Do we have to give up our dreams and beliefs to make our friends and family happy?

    Maybe I am too naive, but I believe that it is possible to live according to your own terms and still live.

  19. Allow me to explain one more point. What my dad did that day was the right thing to do. What Manju did was also right. It was brave, heroic and salute-worthy.

    But the consequences of their right actions, from the perspectives of their loved ones, are just too immense to contemplate.

    Hence in a world where noone cares and everyone forgets, maybe its “most practical” not to try to emulate that kind of behavior. Respect it yes. But dont emulate it.

    This sounds cowardly but its a compromise all of us who stay alive make everyday with the devil. It merely sounds bad articulating out loud.

  20. Onek chinta kormal, kintu ami cynicism share korte parchi na. I just hope (may be I am still very very naive), Manjunath’s Sacrifice makes a difference.

  21. This world (and yes, this blog too) is so much better, when you are in your own little utopian dream world, where every person under consideration is just another funny caricature with a heart of gold; where all movies are Prabhu’s (and to be appreciated accordingly), and where all software is bug-free (no…ignore that last one). You might like to crucify me for this, but I identified your blog as one such place. It just so happened that I was in a dour, foul mood, and then remembered your blog, to help force a cynical smirk if not a smile,…and here was reality laughing back at me…

    Melodrama is not my cup of tea, but as far as blogs go, I was only used to tears through mirth and laughter. I hope you don’t have to try again…

  22. Hi arnab,
    first time here…was guided by your mention in “The Telgraph”, but what TT missed out mentioning that you seem to be an incurable pessimist. At least your father stood up for what he believed in…ditto Manjunath…maybe they were naive…but think about it…maybe all they wanted was a better world for their children…of course Manjunath didn’t have any since he was yet to be married…but what about your father and others like him? If such people had given up, we could have had a worse world to live in…maybe I am naive (no…I am not an idealist 17 year old, I am 36 years old…)but I have stood up to bullies and corruption all my life…in a small, small way I have contributed and lived to tell the tale…I have not always succeeded, but what the heck…I am willing to fight for what I want for myself and my children and that is A BETTER WORLD…I can understand your cynicism, I have myself faced it at times…but if we give up, our kids might face a bigger problem…think about it. Murders of Manjunath or Satyendra Dubey do dampen one’s spirits…but giving up never won anything for anyone.And dont think Manjunath’s death has gone unnoticed…his colleagues and countless others have raised a stink…only time will tell whether culprits can be punished…but dear arnab, that 17 year old “idealist” was bang on…even raising a stink about such happenings put other malefactors on notice, puts fear of god in their black hearts…maybe for a short time only, but is still worth it.
    Remember, it was our and our forebears’ apathy and cynicism which has led to such sorry state…and now it is we who have to clear the mess of our creation…we will lose several Manjunath and Styendra Dubey on the way…but it is still worth a sincere shot…what say, mates?

  23. Arnab, it is more of a feeling of sinking helplessness than self-righteous indignation. I have been through these situations myself, quite a number of times. But it is very difficult to realise the difference between a situation when you stand a chance and one where you do not. That is growing up, learning the ways of the world, maturity… you name it; there are thousands of euphemisms for that. At the end of the day, you remember Subhas Bose who quit ICS to become a revolutionary. But then, you remember him on school essays, CPM rallies and over cups of coffee. Your sarcasm hits home too hard. Thanks for the post.

  24. Oh great one! I am glad I came across your blog on this issue. Your thoughts and views make me wanna come back for more.

    First off, I am very glad that you are still just a wannabe politician. We have enough and more spineless, I-may-see-problems-but-care-more-about-my-ass politicians; we do not need more. Please keep the wannabe tag permanent.

    I infer (please correct me if I am wrong) that your childhood incident taught you that it would be ‘naïve’ and ‘idealistic’ to interfere when you come across a problem to which a blind eye can be turned. Please let me put forth a hypothetical question to you. If an atrocity is committed against one of your near and dear (god forbid), wouldn’t you agree that the best thing to do for the bystanders is to remained bystanders? Going by your argument that is the most prudent thing for them to do – not to interfere in any matter that may cause them their lives. Would you still agree that we should just be ‘realistic’ not ‘idealistic’, and turn our back to problems? I know I would be royally pissed if I knew that an atrocity was being committed on one of my near and dear, and people who could have prevented it just stood by watching because that thought it may not be sensible for them to interfere.

    Your views and attitude towards corruption set my thoughts on Wormtail, a character in Harry Potter, who snitched on the whereabouts of the Potters to Voldemort, helped Voldemort to regain his powers, etc., merely because he was afraid of the wrath of evil if he did not favor it. He – probably being a realist – believed his best interests were in saving his own tail.

    Judging past reactions, I am confident of expecting a tirade in response to my comments.

  25. Perhaps the only positive aspect of the post and the comments, tirades and rants that it has generated is the fact that there still remains some naive, idealist, so called ‘crusaders’ in this world.
    With an abundanceof realistic people, thats the only ray of hope and probably, Arnab one of them, God forbid, may be of help to you some day

  26. I don’t care if I sound like a moronic idealist dreaming of an utopian world, but can you imagine what happens if we all are as brave? We cause a revolution. Throughout the passages of time people like Manjunath Shanmugham have made this world slightly better. Ask any freedom fighter, any African American, any woman, and any person who dared to think differently. I don’t know if I can ever make a difference but to hell with anybody who says it isn’t worth the effort. It would be ideal to sit and enjoy the fruits of all who have made a difference but sometimes maybe just sometimes have to walk the talk.

  27. @Dreamweaver: Those are very fundamental questions you raised and a satisfactory answer is frankly beyond me.

    @SD: We may all hope but will it? Did the brutal murder of S Dubey change anything?

    @Metaj: Understand

    @Sudipta : Helplessness is right.

    @Swami: I agree. I should remain a wannabe politician and leave it upto “Swamis” like you who go on waxing eloquent and trumpetting high falutin ideals as long as its “others who are doing it”.

    Just like GWB talks about patriotism and saving the US homeland and the need to make sacrifices and then sends others sons and daughters to die…..

    I know I would be royally pissed if I knew that an atrocity was being committed on one of my near and dear, and people who could have prevented it just stood by watching because that thought it may not be sensible for them to interfere.

    I am sure you would. Because your near-and-dear is concerned. But what you never say is would you help a stranger in distress at the possible cost of your own life? I know its very easy to say “yes” to that in a discussion on a blog but when push comes to shove, there are very very few people who do it.

    Now I am sure you are one of these rare brave people who would actually walk the walk just like GWB would have fought this war himself if only he had the chance.

    Just like he fought the Vietnam War sitting in US.

    @Hutumpacha and Anon1 and others: The problem with you and some of the Anons here are that you simply interpreted this post as just saying “Dont help anyone”.

    Yes it does say so on the surface but the reason that some people have been moved to tears is that they realize the irony of what lies beneath…I am merely wringing my hand in desperation as to what advice I should give to my next generation—I *know* I should be teaching them to “not tolerate injustice” (obviously thats why I admire Manjunath) but then I also *know* that I wont be able to bear the possibility of my most loved ones coming back to me dead because of bags of rice or chemicals in petrol.

    I know I am cowardly while the rest of the brave commenters here would give their lives for their fellow men in a flash.

    I bow to all of you. You are obviously better people than I am.

    @Cribbycrab: Kindly refer to the reply above.

  28. Hey greatbong,
    brilliant post, too many comments to go through, so i will state wat i thot and my reaction to your post.

    The idea about what manjunath did is really simple, he did it for himself, not because it was his duty(i am assuming he knew that these mafia ppl would easliy take his life worst come worst), i am very sure he could not live with himself if he had not done what he did. When people do good, like remove corruption it cannot be through a law(we have so many laws stopping this and that, but really we are not morally binded to follow any of them), but the idea of what has to be done is very intrinsic. and seriously wat manjunath did was, not driven by society. Society gives all of us enuf slack to do wat we want, it our choice(i do not believe in free will, but choices we all have).

    Your incident about the rice smugglers, clearly shows your disillusionment(i share your disillusionment). Honesty in the current society is not a morally binding virtue, you can get away by not being honest in most things, on the contrary achieve faster and easier solutions to most day-to-day problems. The real reasons are forced to be dishonest because we feel we may lose out in the rat-race and more importantly survival. Even in this modern age, our decisions are more driven by survival, and then domination, both concepts which clearly allow dishonesty to be part of human existence.

  29. Granted, selling adulterated petrol is both illegal and unethical anyday. The rice smuggling on that day was illegal, but why is it automatically and unquestioningly assumed that it was unethical too?

    Most people (including the middle class intellectuals) would not hesitate to try to find ways (legal as well as questionable) to pay less tax. There was a time when the highest bracket income tax rate was 95%. Was it still unethical to try to find ways around those taxes? Fact is, there are just too many tax, permit and licensing regulations. Its not possible for anybody to do business without violating some of them, and that means having to pay off the parasitic bureaucrats. Now, technically that is corruption, but does the goverment leave you with any other option? I consider corruption to be a real issue mainly when it involves government contracts, not when you the CEO of an IT company has to pay off an inspector who could cause trouble for him because he forgot to follow the rule that says every office must have a spittoon.

    So, when people look the other way, it might not always necessarily be because they are cowards.. it could also be because they do not consider every instance of “corruption” to be unethical merely because it violates some arbitrary bureaucrat-written rule.. is the rule that was violated unquestionably ethical and if so by what standard?

  30. Remember that “Satyameva Jayate” is nothing more than a crappy Vinod Khanna movie.

    *deep breath*

    you’re right.

  31. @ anonymous who calls me Mr. and thought that I am Arnab in disguise: No sir, I am sorry to disappoint you and your ego – I am a woman. You are enormously biased – you thought that only a man can counter your points? In today’s world you would be termed as sexist. Your temporary presumption of me being Arnab shows your insecurity. I am not going to infer that all anonymous commentators are actually you. That is why I specifically mentioned “anonymous who calls me Mr.”

    My second point: You wrote “I don’t see writing about him in this way as an option. Instead we wrote to the family expressing our feelings and respect.” I hope you are educated enough to understand (as you have written “I am educated enough not to make it my business to respond to dozens of comments not addressed to me) that what you did to express your anguish is not the only way to convey one’s pain. Arnab expressed his pain through his blog – what is wrong about it?

    @all: It is true that everybody should have the courage to fight the wrongs of this world. According to me what most of the commentators missed is the power of collectiveness in fighting the evil. One single person can’t change the world but people collectively can make a difference. In the incident that Arnab mentioned if his father was accompanied by a host of fellow passengers (who in reality went away) to the police then things would have been a lot better – at least for some days. In issues of life like corruption it is not a one on one fight – in Manjunath’s case (Arnab’s father’s case and in lots of lots of cases like these) he was fighting against a host of corrupt people. One can do a one on one fight only against someone with similar means and size. So we should stand up against the crime/corruption in a united way for our society to change for the better. You just can’t fight alone. One or two honest person’s lives are too inconsequential for those goons/criminals/assailants.

    And let me again mention that I did not find disrespect to Manjunath anywhere in his article. Now the media is covering the incident quite a few days after the mishap – but Arnab was quick enough to express his anguish the way he knows best – by writing.

  32. Bong. I think you got it slightly wrong.

    First off : Express was not the only paper to carry it. If i’m not mistaken, The Telegraph had it the a couple of days before, as a flier. Also, the night before express carried the flier, tv channels were already running the story. Its just that express had a better, more visible story.

    Second : Everyone has their baggage. I know you do too. I’ve personally been in trouble with the *authorities* for wanting to do things right. If you don’t want to do it, thats all right, i respect that. But don’t tell someone else that its better to pipe down.

    What do you do for a living? (i’m seriously, just asking). What would you do in such a situation? Pipe down, let it go?

    What are you going to say next? Don’t join the army, you’ll get killed? I personally have issues with the army, but I respect any man/woman that joins the forces for what he/she believes in.

    What really scares me (and this is where i think you really really got it wrong), this man was killed for DOING HIS JOB. It could be me next. Really it could, i could be working in UP next year. What would i have done in a similar situation? As a reporter, its very possible that i might face something similar. I dont know. I might pipe down. I hope i have the courage to stand up.

    And i’m sorry, but the 17 year old idealist, while not most eloquent, had a point. Do you know how much media pressure there will be on the UP Govt to do something now? If only the local media carried it as a single column (as it was first carried) who would have cared. Now five people are arrested, with their faces on TV. If the UP govt does not carry this thru (its still possible, they might not) think about how the media will react.

    He did his job. Few people do that in the face of such danger. I salute him. I wish i could be more like him. I wish i had the conviction. Like you said you father did.

    And the media’s job, is not to entertain you. It may happen very often, but if thats what you really want, stick to zoom and rouge 🙂

    peace out.

  33. Every once in a while, a Satyendra Dubey or a Manjunath happens. And in a perverse sort of way, their deaths are cited as excuses to justify the “petty corruption” we all indulge in. Couldnt we channel our energies to keep up the pressure on the law machinery & media to mete out justice swiftly? We owe at least that to Manju.

  34. @4WD: You have written “He did his job. Few people do that in the face of such danger. I salute him. I wish i could be more like him. I wish i had the conviction. Like you said your father did.” Of course I salute him. But I would like to mention here that a lot of other people also have convictions. But convictions alone won’t change our society for the better. I think convictions should always go hand in hand with prudence of using collective (not single handed) protest or fight against crime (the point that I have mentioned in my earlier comment on this article).

    Since you have said that you are a reporter- I have a question to you. Why is it that our media usually do not follow up the ‘stories’ (unless of course it is a case like Salem/Monica) like they do in say US/UK? In US/UK the media relentlessly pursue the case till the criminals get what they deserve. What usually happens in India is that after a few days media allows the public to forget the issue (by not following it up) and thus the so called pressure of public opinion fades away – the only people who don’t forget is the victim’s family, friends and colleagues. So I think in this age, media (visual and print) has an enormous role to play in building public opinion, awareness and of course public convictions.

  35. This post has been removed by the author.

  36. Your dad was a prof at IIMC? Was he teaching 10 years ago? Which department?


  37. Yourfan ~ THink about it. How could he use collective protest in his place?

    About the difference between media in the west and media here… i dont know. I’ve never seen the media there. But i do know that some papers do follow cases. Look at express and Satyendra Dubey. Even today express has this story as pg 1 lead. Other papers have it too, but i get express at home, so i mention that.

  38. The status of our society is what the great Guru Dutt sang years ago”yeh basti hai murda parasto ki basti”. i grieve for Manju and his family.

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