Fighting against a corrupt bureaucracy and dishonest policemen to help the poor farmers of Assam made Akhil Gogoi the winner of the Manjunath Shanmugam Integrity Award, 2008. Retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi handed him a citation and a cheque of Rs1 lakh at a function held in the Seminar Hall of Indian Institute of Technology, here on Friday.
“When I learnt about S Manjunath and his ideals, I found similarities between us. He stood for justice and I am also fighting for the same ideals. This award is certainly special,” Gogoi, the general secretary of Krishak Mukti Sangram, said. Gogoi was one of the three people/organisations nominated for the Award that was initiated by the Manjunath Shanmugam Trust (MST) in 2006, as a tribute to Manjunath Shanmugam, a young Indian Oil officer and an IIM Lucknow alumnus, who was murdered in the line of duty while fighting corrupt practices.
Last year, the award was given to R P Singh, Vice-Chancellor of Lucknow University, for his fight against corruption and criminalisation of the university system. The other two nominees for this year’s award were Chetan Ram from Urmul Jyoti Sansthan and M N Vijayakumar, an IAS Officer from Karnataka. While Vijaykumar was not allowed by the Karnataka Government to attend the function, his wife Jayasree J N, also a social activist, attended the event on his behalf.
Speaking on the occasion, Subhash Dhar, a volunteer of MST and Vice-President of Infosys, said the awards were initiated to honour and encourage individuals and institutes to keep up the “good work” of upholding honesty and Truth. “All nominees have shown exceptional strength in rectifying corrupt practices under all odds. The award is all about making the right changes,” he said.
The jury comprised Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief of The Indian Express and Chief Executive Officer of Indian Express Group, S Gopalakrishnan, CEO and M D of Infosys Technologies Ltd and Rama Bijapurkar, a recognised thought leader on market strategy and consumer issues. Speaking on the occasion Shekhar Gupta said: “S Manjunath would have been 30 years old if he were alive. The very fact that he died so young indicates that there is something wrong with the system. But even after his death, he has succeeded in being a role model by inspiring others to bring about change.” According to him, selecting the winner was a tough job because those who are not chosen were equally worthy.”
Kiran Bedi congratulated the nominees and said police reforms were required to contain rising corruption. “The police department is the most corrupt organisation and there can be no justice and integrity if the gap between the police and the public is not filled. The life of Manjunath has bound us emotionally and spiritually against corruption,” she said.
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