Friday, August 1, 2014

Was Manjunath stupid to sacrifice his life?

Few days back I watched movie "Manjunath" which is based on events in life of Shanmughan Manjunath, who was a marketing manager of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). He was murdered in November 2005 for sealing one petrol station in UP which was selling adulterated fuel. The movie specifically deals with this particular incident of Manjunath's life. Two years before (in November 2003) this incident there was another shocking murder of Satyendra Dubey which shocked the nation. Both these young professionals were murdered for opposing the corrupt practices which are very rampant all over the India (specially in public sector). They paid with their life for their desire to do their job with honesty and sincerity. The movie is very well made, it is not like other regular entertaining movies as it is not supposed to entertain you and fortunately it doesn't. Many times the real message gets lost in the name of business or entertainment. The movie is supposed to disturb, shock and force its audience to think and I think movie makers are reasonably successful in this task. I specially liked the conversations between dead Manjunath and his killer Monu Mittal. The dialogue between both of them when Monu is locked in jail is highlight of the movie according to me. During these conversations Monu tries to make fun of Manjunath's values and his courage to stand for them by teasing him for his stupidity to risk his life for his principals. He also tells him that everyone wants a Gandhi to change this rotten system but not in their own house but in neighbor's house (so that they don't have to deal with many problems associated with it). People want the change but not at the cost of their own comfort. Many of us don't want to sacrifice their own life or risk their own job to eradicate corruption from the system. We want the system to be fixed but don't want to make our own hands dirty. Because of this attitude the corrupt system has become so strong and robust that it ruthlessly crushes anyone who even by mistake tries to challenge it. People who dare to challenge this are so less in numbers compared to people who meekly surrender to it that it is easy to crush these challengers without even getting into much trouble. It is not easy to be a parent of a rebel or a martyr, it takes lot of emotional toll on family. Manjunath's family must have faced lot of pain and trauma after his death. They must have felt the disgusting feeling that killers of their son might get away with their crime because of corrupt system in India. They must have questioned why their son risked his life to stand for the principles he believed in? Fortunately some better sense prevailed in this case, may be because of tremendous pressure created by people and justice was delivered. But not every case is resolved in this manure, at the end of movie just watch the entire screen getting filled with various names of people who were murdered or tortured just for trying to do their job honestly.

Actually many of us see wrong things happening around us, but many of us choose to ignore them or tolerate these things for various reasons. Forget about risking our life to stop them we even refuse to say a word against these things just because many others don't. Social evils like discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying, etc. keep on happening right in front of people's eyes and many choose to ignore it rather than at least protest against it. Slowly these things become a norm and these people who engage in such acts start thinking that this is the new norm now and anyone who opposes it is considered as a crazy, stupid person who is out of their mind to fight against it. Manjunath exactly faced the same dilemma, whatever he learned in the class or whatever values he believed in were totally different than the ground reality which he saw after starting his job. He was shocked to see such blatant and shameless act of corruption, he was shocked that even after several warnings there is no fear of law among these people. Many people surrender after seeing all this, they accept the current norm and think that one person cannot change the things but Manjunath didn't and that's why we are talking about him. During one of their conversations Monu calls him 'stupid' for risking his life for such a small thing. Was Manjunath stupid? or was he the only same person in really insane environment around him? Are we as a society taking any steps towards creating a environment where Manjunath's don't feel suffocated or don't get murdered? What does murders of people like Dr. Dabholkar tell us? The movie raises many questions like this. Recent support to movements like India against corruption (IAC) or Aam Adami Party (AAP) showed us how serious is the problem of corruption in India. But the progress in the direction of eradicating this social menace or even controlling it is very slow, there is lack of political will from all political parties and it seems for voters corruption is not a election issue. So it seems our society is only interested in candle marches or protests after each incidents like this but they are not yet ready to force political parties to reform the entire system. I really don't know how many Manjunath's or Satyendra's have to sacrifice their lives to open our society's eyes to see the monster of corruption which is rotting out political and public sector. Political parties are not going to do anything one their own until people force them to do it, I hope this movie and story of people like Manjunath inspires many young people who can at least dare to ask some tough questions to current establishment. Initiating some change towards controlling widespread corruption will be the biggest tribute to these people who sacrificed their lives to clean this system.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]


  1. Excellent analysis, inspiring article.

    1. Thanks a lot Siddhartha for your kind words. I am glad that you liked it and fount it useful.