Professionalism/Shanmughan Manjunath and the Indian Oil Corporation
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Integrity in an Oily Situation
Manjunath Shanmughan, known to his friends as Machaan, was an employee of the Indian Oil Corporation. It was Machaan's responsibility to ensure that the oil sold in Indian petrol stations was unadulterated. In October 2005, Machaan closed two petrol pumps in Lakhimpur Kheri for three months because they were selling tainted oil. However, just one month later, the pump reopened. After learning this, Machaan conducted a surprise raid and was killed. Pawan Kumar Mittal, the owner of the pump, and seven others were tried for Machaan's death and Pawan was sentenced to death. The case is currently in appeal.
Defiance through Integrity
A true professional can show defiance in order to preserve his or her integrity. This behavior is exemplified through social psychologist Stanley Milgram's obedience experiments. The individuals who were defiant to authority understood that it was their choice whether or not to flip the switch despite what the experimenter stated. Pawan Kumar, the owner of the pump, was in a position of authority and chose to open the pump two months early. None of Pawan's seven employees showed defiance, by either preventing him from opening the pump or reaching out to the Indian Oil Corporation. Instead, they claimed in testimony that they were just doing what they were told. These employees lack integrity through defiance.
What makes some individuals capable of defiance and others not? In a society that values individualism, people are encouraged to define integrity as an individual. However, in other cultures, a person's integrity is shaped heavily by community and authority. Machaan, intent on maintaining his integrity and the integrity of the oil, paid for this with his life.