Nov 28, 2005

Fight Corruption and Uphold Honesty

This article has been re-posted following the killing of an honest worker (Mgmt employee in an oil firm in India)
: To all people

[This article was taken from my friend Sandith's website : PRATHAMAM ]

Manju was my close friend at IIM-Lucknow. I have a Graduation Day snap with him. When I joined the IIM, he'd just returned after a Research Associate-ship in IIM-Bangalore. His topic of research, and the topic that really caught his imagination, was `Values'.

He often used to speak of values, looking at me deeply with those sincere-looking eyes. His favourite course in the MBA program was `Leadership'. He spoke from the heart and hated any pretence in presenting himself anywhere – class discussion, interview - anywhere.
He used to speak of making a difference to society. He was interested in meditation and mind control - primarily as a means to overcome the impulses that make one deviate from values.

He was a brilliant singer and the most popular guy in the batch. He always gave joy to people and brightened their lives through his singing, jokes, and his free spirit. He never spoke ill, in fact he seemed incapable of even thinking ill of anybody.

Knowing his love for upholding values, I think the highest ideal Manju would have conceived of, must have been to die for them. All of us are bound to die one day, and all of us can die only once. He became one with his highest ideal – and met a heart-rending (or should I call it glorious – a romantic idealist's glory) death.

Satyendra Dubey from IIT. Manjunath Shanmugham from IIM. How many bright and honest young men will we lose like this?

The Economist estimates that of every Rs. 100/- dispensed from the center for the poor (such as through employment schemes), only Rs. 27/- reaches the people it is meant for – the rest feeding the greed of the corrupt scum of our country. When will this Rs.27/- take the poor man to progress? And do we need to contribute Rs.73/- to the coffers of the corrupt mafia in the process?

Please remember that this Rs. 73/- is not getting wasted down the drain (that would have been better), it is actively contributing to the growth of the mafia and ever making them stronger, bigger. It's something like this – I am trying to throw a stone off my head, and every time I grow in strength by X, the stone grows in weight by

I am a poor man from a backward area of the country. On my head is this huge stone called corruption and goondaism - which rule my land. Will I ever be able to throw it off, or will I just get crushed under it?

Other countries – Russia, France - have had full-and-full revolutions, no less! Is our basic peace-loving nature as Indians making us soft, and consequently, impotent?

If you think that men who are destined to get crushed by stones should get crushed by stones, read no further. If you think Manju and Satyendra Dubey were impractical idealists who should rather have written the screenplay for Hindi films, read no further. Delete this
mail, right now! Though I find it hard to believe, I guess impotency can be a natural choice too.

If, however, you are outraged, and feel like spitting at the rot in our country, then first understand that there will always be some die-hard men of principles like Manju who will never waver from their principles irrespective of what you and I choose. We have a choice here – either we stand by them, and join hands with them in adhering to values. Or we keep adding weight to the stone and shed crocodile tears when the poor man gets crushed.

But then, I have always believed that all of us are born with inbuilt human values – goodness, kindness, love, wishing well for others. I have always believed that honest people are in a majority in this world and even more so in India. It is the corrupt that are always in a minority. But because the honest people do not stand together and the corrupt ones do, they are seen as majorities & they have the power to influence everything around us through these unholy groups and links – the Politicians-Criminals link, the Criminals-Bollywood link, the Purchasing Officer-Vendor link.

They can kill one Manju, one Satyendra Dubey, but can they kill all of us? We know they can't. And yet they kill. Most heinously, they do. Why? Because we don't come together.

Coming together does not stop with signing an internet petition, making some noise when a tragedy happens. It means coming together in spirit. In ideology. In the way we lead our lives. In small things.

It means, taking a receipt of 100 Euros for the taxi ride that cost you 100 Euros. It means, not looking left or right while writing an exam. It means, not giving a PSU purchasing officer an expensive watch because he suddenly became your personal-friend-from-previous-
birth when you went to submit your tender in his office. It means, having the guts to stand up and oppose corruption – like Satyendra and Manju did.

There is no dearth of inspiring stories – Narayaswamy, G.R.Khairnar and Alphons Kannamthanam and many many more. And Manju & Satyendra if you're looking for the younger ones (they died really young didn't they…). As I said, the basic good nature in humans is strong, and good people are in a majority.

My first foreign work-visit convinced me that Indians are one of the most intelligent beings on the planet. My subsequent visits only confirmed this. The IITs and IIMs – Satyendra and Manju's alma mater, together have an alumni that MIT, Standford and Harvard would together be hard-pressed to match. Lack of Intelligence is clearly not the reason for India's backwardness, it is something else – lack of inspiration, lack of initiative.

Should the intelligence we Indians are born with, come with a baggage of impotence? And how many guises this impotence takes – `being practical', `being tactful', `being wiser than the hindi movie script'. At the same time our intelligence thinks of principles as `impractical', `the `melodramatic hindi cinema plot', `not for the modern day'. Being intelligent is quite alright, but can't we be Inspired, for heaven's sake?

If I wish to really honour the memory of Manju, Satyendra and many others who have lived by their values, I should stand by them and commit myself to values too. I can't mince the words on that. I realized this when he was shot and all the old discussions we had on values came back to my mind.

To commit yourself to values, and spit at the rot that took Manju's life, sign here – and see for yourself that there is no dearth of good people in India:

When I studied for IIT, I used the famous Physics Textbook written by Resnick, Halliday and Jearl Walker. Prof. Walker was a daredevil. He used to try out all the theories of physics in practice.

The Leidenfrost effect is the phenomenon by which a liquid in near contact with a mass hotter than the liquid's "Leidenfrost point", produces an insulating vapor layer which keeps it from boiling rapidly. In short, it says that if you walk on hot coals, the vapour of your sweat will keep your feet from burning. Prof. Walker believed in the physics that he taught, so he walked on hot coals many times, dipped wet hot fingers in molten lead, poured liquid nitrogen in his mouth… (read

The great Richard Feynman, no less, has been known to have stuck his hand in water first and then into the benzine and lit it, to prove a point in physics to his friends. The first time, it worked fine, the second time though, it hurt like hell – he had grown hairs on the back of his hand. (read

Prof. Walker has often argued that physics degree granting programs should employ "fire walking" as a last exam. If the candidate's belief in physics is strong enough that the feet are left undamaged,
the chairperson hands the candidate a graduation certificate. By a similar token, I as Manju's batchmate, believe that he was the truest of true leaders, because he really carried out in life the values of a true leader. The fact that I might have got a higher grade in the Leadership course might be one of the most insignificant facts
inhabiting the synapses in my brain.

Manju's story should inspire in at least a thousand people at least a ten percent higher adherence to values. That is really the only way I can console myself over the loss of this friend, the truest of true leaders.

Please see how you can make your contribution to make the Manju case an occasion to strike a blow to the rot in our country. It could be anything from writing a letter on this case to the editor of a newspaper, to using any of your contacts in media, to, let's say, arrange a talk show where administrators are called in and nailed down to some firm action. It could be writing an article in or Just about anything, everything helps.

We are also planning some protest marches, and setting up something concrete in Manju's name to recognize and encourage honest people who help deal a blow to corruption. If you can help on anything, please join in.

I hate chain mails and have deleted with particular glee all those chain mails that promise dire consequences if you don't forward them on ("If you don't forward this mail within 5 minutes of reading it, God will strike you down with lightening" etc). However, since this
is for a poor man with a big stone on his head, please do forward this to like-minded people. Let us strike the iron when it is hot – and strike hard.

Akhil Krishna
IIM Lucknow -2003,
IIT Madras – 2000
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