Monday, August 07, 2006

Remember Sanjoy Ghosh

Sanjoy Ghosh (1959-1997) was a social activist who was kidnapped and killed by ULFA militants while leading a social development programme in Majuli, Assam. He was a graduate of IRMA (Institute of Rural Management, Anand) who earned a reputation for efficient and direct development action by founding and nurturing URMUL (Uttar Rajasthan Milk Union Limited), later leaving it to lead an NGO called AVARD in Assam. During his work there he mobilised people to protect themselves from frequent floods, but in the act got into the way of the nexus between ULFA and local flood embankment contractors.

Sanjoy is a legend on rural development campuses like IRMA and TISS, where youngsters look up to him as proof that someone with an urban middle-class background like themselves too can make a difference, so what if the price is heavy. One of the oft-repeated anecdotes is how his IIMA and IRMA interviews basically consisted of Sanjoy grilling the panel about what they had to offer him, and how he turned down admission to IIMA in favor of IRMA.

Last week, an ULFA militant named Mridul Hazarika died in a police encounter in Assam. Hazarika allegedly had a hand in Sanjoy's kidnap and murder. One is hesitant about how to react to this piece of news...what justice would Sanjoy have sought?

Remember Sanjoy Ghosh.

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