Bureaucrat who faced sedition charges, awarded for excellent governance

Manjunath Bhajantri winning Excellence in Governance Award in MSME category
Manjunath Bhajantri winning Excellence in Governance Award in MSME categoryPic Courtesy- Indian Express

In 2018 when Manjunath Bhajantri was blowing the lid off the infamous Blanket scam, he left Jharkhand to join NITI AYOG. However, he returned in 2021 and was appointed the District Commissioner of Deoghar. The decision of Soren government to appoint him on the post came at a time when the entire country was reeling under covid and its resultant lockdown. The lockdown wreaked havoc on the livelihood of the people who depended on tourism generated by the pilgrimage of the city.

Deoghar Mart: Not merely an online platform

Manjunath Bhajantri struck upon an idea that was expected to mitigate the losses to the pilgrimage- he set up “Deoghar Mart” a state-of-the-art website for online shopping of indigenous products. Speaking to The Mooknayak Manjunath Bhajantri said “The mart set up through the District e-governance society has helped poor artisans such as weavers, potters, iron smiths coming from marginalized groups in getting market and a good price for their product. It has also helped the Women-led Self Help Groups and proved that they (women) can also adapt to technology. The goods are collected from the artisans by the block coordinators who in turn hand it over to the logistics company and the products are sold online in a very convenient way.” Manjunath said.

Manjunath Bhajantri winning Excellence in Governance Award in MSME category
Dalit community demand fair treatment by Indian army, says ex-gratia insufficient

About Manjunath

Manjunath Bhajantri, who himself hailed from a lower middle class family, related to the problems of the underprivileged sections. As a person who had faced hardships while growing up in a family that eked out a living by selling logs in the village market in Belagavi, he had empathy for the poor. The financial constraints didn't hinder Bhajantri's spirit. His perseverance and hard work got him through the IIT without any coaching and later cracking UPSC and become IAS.

Getting the prestigious Indian Express award for Excellence in Governance Award in MSME (Medium and Small Enterprises) is another feather in the cap of the bureaucrat. The statement by Indian Express mentioned his key work as setting up Deoghar Mart, a state-of-the-art multi-brand multi-vendor e-commerce marketplace and Helping artisans and small-scale businesses.”

Manjunath Bhajantri winning Excellence in Governance Award in MSME category
55-yr old tribal man helping villagers cross river on a handmade bamboo raft with tyres-tubes

Recognition of efforts of the marginalised section

Expressing happiness over the award, Manjunath says “It is recognition of the hardships and challenges faced by the marginalized communities - especially during Covid pandemic and the district administration’s effort to bring Technological intervention to address the challenge. Award is dedicated to the Women SHGs who are working on various products like Dona Pattal, Bamboo crafts and artisans like Blacksmiths, Potters, weavers and small shopkeepers/ micro enterpris. These marginalized sections of society are toiling every day to convert their traditional skills into a livelihood. This award will further motivate them to preserve the traditional skills and also adopt the technology.”

Manjunath Bhajantri winning Excellence in Governance Award in MSME category
Life is miserable for Kathodi Tribes in this Rajasthan hamlet

The Undaunted

After joining the Civil Services in 2011, Bhajantri has always been in news. Be it for the exposure of Blanket scam or the standing up against the two BJP MPs Nishikant Dubey and Manoj Tiwari allegedly after they forced their way into the Air-traffic control room. The MPs pressuring the officials to take clearance from the Air Traffic Controller for take-off of a chartered flight from the airport, was in gross violation of the rules as there was no 'night take-off or landing facility’ there.

However, the dispute took an unexpected turn when Manjunath defied the browbeating and took to social media platform twitter to question the parliamentarians.

Although Bhajantri was admired for squaring up to the politicians from the ruling party, he along with Jharkhand police officers was slapped with sedition charges by Delhi Police on a complaint lodged by Nishikant Dubey for compromising “national security”. The charges also included criminal conspiracy and criminal intimidation.”

But being a Bahujan, challenges are nothing new to him as he says and hopefully this award will only boost his determination to serve the society.

Support the Janwadi journalism of The Mooknayak, which prominently raises the issues and problems of the exploited/deprived, Dalit, tribal, women and minorities. The Mooknayak is run by your support. Click here for Support.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The Mooknayak English - Voice Of The Voiceless