November 25, 2005


No takers for Manjunath's sacrifice

When Rita, a Category 5 hurricane, was approaching Texas, Infosys evacuated its employees and their families on a chartered flight as "roads were blocked due to traffic". [1]

Two months later, Manjunath, a young sales officer of Indian Oil Corp (IOC), is ridden with seven bullets for performing his duty with highest standards of integrity. [2] IOC is yet to release an official statement to the media condemning this crime. Only statement I come across is from IOC Chairman. And he is quite conservative with words. All he has to say is, "We are very upset and in a state of shock."

The website of IOC gloats about its 170th rank in the Fortune 500 list, but what's the value of that ranking if you cannot stand up for your own employee?

IOC is a PSU under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas looked after by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, recently recognized as Stars of Asia by BusinessWeek. His ministry sends out a press release [3] condemning the murder - but with a caveat. It says,
"The Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas condemns the dastardly heinous murder of Shri S. Manjunath, a Sales Officer of Indian Oil Corporation posted at Lakhimpur Kheri. Shir (sic) Manjunath was a bright young officer who showed great promise and potential. Apparently he was put to death for doing his work sincerely in bringing to book some dealers indulging in malpractices. The Committee recommends to the Central and State Governments to give full support to the officers of IOC and other PSUs engaged in curbing malpractices in distribution of petroleum products to consumers and calls upon the officers of IOC and the PSUs to carry out their work with full sense of responsibility."
In one stroke, the Ministry turns a blind eye to the fuel adulteration scam which is estimated to be worth Rs 10,000 - 40,000 Crores [4]. While, Ministry acknowledges the problem, understands that PSU employees have their life at risk, it shirks from owing the responsibility. The Ministry squarely puts the onus of controlling scam on the oil companies, or to be specific, the Manjunaths working for these companies. One of the reasons for the move is that the Anti-Adulteration Cell (AAC) of the Ministry was scrapped after some officers were found to be corrupt [5]. But biggest reason is there is no political will since most of the petrol pump owners are in some way associated with the politicians belonging to both - the ruling and the opposition.

Mr Aiyar, how many more Manjunath's have to offer their aahuti to clean the glut of corruption, which essentially, is created by former occupants of your ministry? And how long do you plan to disown your duties? All those dreams of making PSUs world class organization, Mr Aiyar talks glowingly about are nothing more than a seasoned politician's hollow words.

There was no immediate statement from UP Govt, which indicates, they consider it a routine incident in the state.

Couple of days later, Kutty, an Indian driver is killed in Afghanistan by Taliban. Prime Minister describes the killing as "cowardly" and "brutal," saying that Kutty had "given his life as a soldier for peace" and announces a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for his family[6]. This is an international event, you see.

Honourable PM , Wasn't the murder of Manjunath "brutal" enough, Sir? Didn't he lay his life for the values which you yourself stand for?

Another whistle-blower, Santyendra Dube, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur, met the similar fate couple of years ago. IIT fraternity came forward with campaigns, used their clout that made PMO order an CBI inquiry. I suppose, IIM alumni will also take similar action as Manjunath is IIM Lucknow alumnus. One person who should be actively involved in this crusade is Mr Sarthak Behuria, Chairman of IOC and alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad.

Will an organization survive in the long run if it has its values system so broken? Do the organizations like IOC deserve service, let alone sacrifice, by Manjunaths of this country?


[1] Infosys airlifts its employees out of Houston jam : Indian Express

[2] Five more held for IOC staff'’s murder : Indian Express

[3] Press Release by Petroleum Ministry

[4] Impure For Sure : Outlook

[5] Muck In The Tank : Outlook

[6] PM condemns killing of Indian by Taliban: NDTV

I find this news disgusting. Whats more upsetting is the attitude of the company for whose interests manjunath laid his life.
IOC website does not menthion his sacrifice and dont care.
Shame on you IOC.
Dr Gangji,Stoke on Trent, UK
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