On Shanmugam Manjunath And The Road Less Travelled

This article is first in the series of articles “The Road Less Travelled.” Through this series, I will introduce you to MBAs who in spite of their high paying jobs decided to serve the nation, became entrepreneurs, fought corruption, helped the needy and made everyone proud. 

The first article is about Shanmugam Manjunath. An alumnus from IIM Lucknow who was murdered while serving as an IOC (Indian Oil Corporation) sales officer. You can read more about him here.

But make no mistakes, this article won’t be a eulogy. After all, it’s not even 19th November, the day he was shot in cold blood. In fact, he deserved this. How could he even think of breaking the norm and doing something as foolish as this? Standing up against the oil mafia in a state that is infamous for its law and order services. Who in their right mind would ignore threats and refuse bribes? A few easy bucks would have probably helped him. But instead, he did the unthinkable. He raided the gold mine, the petrol pump in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh. The owners of the pump reacted in the way they should have. They shot him. Six bullets.

Since then a lot has been written and spoken about Manjunath. Most consider him a hero while some say he acted in haste. I do not intend to reiterate any part of that story. Neither his good old days at IIM Lucknow nor the long fought battle after his death. I also do not intend to praise the people who came forward to help nor do I want to thank all those who in some way or the other try to keep his memory alive. I only want to question. Whether his sacrifice made even the slightest dent?


I am not naive to believe that a Manjunath can put an end to all corruption and reform this rotten system. It would probably take thousands of Manjunath to do so. However, I only wish to find out if his sacrifice has even managed to stir our conscience. I agree that only one in a million may be as foolish or brave as Manjunath to lay down his life fighting for the truth. Yet, I only want to understand if his story has strengthened our resolve against corruption. Many of us express outrage on any such incidence by putting up statuses and tweeting our hearts out. Yet, I only hope to find whether our online outrage translates to on ground activism. Probably NOT.

It would be a shame if we cannot do a tiny fraction of what Manjunath and all other such heroes did. It’s easy to blame the government for all our follies, but it takes a mighty heart to stand up against what is wrong. We need not sacrifice our lives to create a dent. We need not give up our lavish jobs to make a mark. All we need is a will. A will strong enough to say “NO”  to the extra buck that comes our way. And each such “NO” will be the real tribute to Manjunath and all other heroes who lay down their lives for the betterment of our country!

samaksha vaish

Samaksha Vaish is a second year student at IIM Lucknow. He is also a member of the Industry Interaction Cell and Manjunath Shanmugam Trust.