Kisan Hazare was born on 15 June 1937 in Bhingar, a small village near the city of Hinganghat, in Bombay Province (present-day Maharashtra). Kisan’s father, Baburao Hazare, worked as an unskilled labourer in Ayurveda Ashram Pharmacy. Kisan’s grandfather was working for the army in Bhingar, when he was born. The grandfather died in 1945, but Baburao continued to stay at Bhingar. In 1952, Baburao resigned from his job and returned to his own village, Ralegan Siddhi. Kisan had six younger brothers and sisters and the family faced significant hardships. Kisan’s childless aunt offered to look after him and his education, and took him to Mumbai. Kisan studied up to the seventh standard in Mumbai and then sought employment, due to the economic situation in his household. He started selling flowers at Dadar to support his family. He soon started his own shop and brought two of his brothers to Bombay.
In 1962, events in South Asia led to large-scale army recruitments. Despite not meeting the physical requirements, 25-year-old Hazare was selected, as emergency recruitment was taking place in the Indian Army. After training at Aurangabad in Maharashtra he started his career in the Indian Army as a driver in 1963. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Hazare was posted at the border in the Khem Karan sector. On 12 November 1965, Pakistan launched air attacks on Indian bases, and all of Hazare’s comrades were killed; he was the only survivor of that convoy. It was a close shave for Hazare as one bullet had passed by his head. He was driving a truck. This led him to dwell on the purpose and meaning of life and death. He came across a small booklet titled “Call to the youth for nation building” in a book stall at the New Delhi railway station. He realized that saints sacrificed their own happiness for that of others, and that he needed to work for the poor. He started to spend his spare time reading the works of Vivekananda, Gandhi, and Vinoba Bhave. During the mid-1970s, he again survived a road accident while driving. It was at that particular moment that Hazare took an oath to dedicate his life to the service of humanity, at the age of 38. He took voluntary retirement from the army in 1978.
Transformation of Ralegan Siddhi
In 1975 after a voluntary retirement from the Indian army, Hazare went to his native village Ralegan Siddhi, a village located in the acute drought-prone and rain-shadow zone of Parner Tehsil of Ahmadnagar district, in central Maharashtra. It was one of the many villages of India plagued by acute poverty, deprivation, a fragile ecosystem, neglect and hopelessness. Hazare made remarkable economic, social and community regeneration in Ralegan Siddhi. He reinforced the normative principles of human development – equity, efficiency, sustainability and people’s participation and made Ralegan Siddhi an oasis of man-made regeneration in a desert without any inputs of industrialisation and technology-oriented agriculture.
Anna Hazare recognised that without addressing the menace of alcoholism, no effective and sustainable reform was possible in the village. He organised the youth of the village into an organisation named the Tarun Mandal (Youth Association). Hazare and the youth group decided to take up the issue of alcoholism and resolved to close down liquor dens and ban alcohol in the village. Since these resolutions were made in the temple, they became in a sense religious commitments. Over thirty liquor brewing units were closed by their owners voluntarily. Those who did not succumb to social pressure were forced to close down their businesses when the youth group smashed up their liquor dens. The owners could not complain as their businesses were illegal.
When some villagers were found to be drunk they were tied to poles/pillars of the temple and flogged, sometimes personally by Hazare. He justified this harsh punishment by stating in an interview to Reader’s Digest in 1986 that “rural India was a harsh society”.
Hazare said, “Doesn’t a mother administer bitter medicines to a sick child when she knows that the medicine can cure her child? The alcoholics were punished so that their families would not be destroyed.”
Hazare appealed to the government of Maharashtra to bring in a law whereby prohibition would come into force in a village if 25% of the women in the village demanded it. In July 2009 the state government issued a government resolution amending the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949. As per the amendments, if at least 25% of women voters demand liquor prohibition through a written application to the state excise department, voting should be conducted through a secret ballot. If 50% of the voters vote against the sale of liquor, prohibition should be imposed in the village and the sale of liquor should be stopped. Similar action can be taken at the ward level in municipal areas. Another circular was issued making it mandatory to get the sanction of the Gram sabha (the local self government) for issuing new permits for the sale of liquor. In some instances, when women agitated against the sale of liquor, cases were filed against them. Hazare took up the issue again. In August 2009 the government issued another circular that sought withdrawal of cases against women who sought prohibition of liquor in their villages.
It was decided to ban the sale of tobacco, cigarettes, and beedies (an unfiltered cigarette where the tobacco is rolled in tendu Diospyros melanoxylon leaves instead of paper) in the village. In order to implement this resolution, the youth group performed a unique “Holi” ceremony twenty two years ago. The festival of Holi is celebrated as a symbolic burning of evil. The youth group brought all the tobacco, cigarettes, and beedies from the shops in the village and burnt them in a ‘Holi’ fire. Tobacco, cigarettes, or beedies are no longer sold.
In 1980, the Grain Bank was started by him at the temple, with the objective of providing food security to needful farmers during times of drought or crop failure. Rich farmers, or those with surplus grain production, could donate a quintal to the bank. In times of need, farmers could borrow the grain, but they had to return the same amount of grain they borrowed, plus an additional quintal as an interest. This ensured that nobody in the village ever went hungry or had to borrow money to buy grain. This also prevented distress sales of grain at lower prices at harvest time.
Watershed development programme
“It is not the water in the fields that brings true development; rather, it is water in the eyes, or compassion for fellow beings, that brings about real development.” —Anna Hazare
Ralegan is located in the foothills, so Hazare persuaded villagers to construct a watershed embankment to stop water and allow it to percolate and increase the ground water level and improve irrigation in the area. Residents of the village used shramdan (voluntary labour) to build canals, small-scale check-dams, and percolation tanks in the nearby hills for watershed development. These efforts solved the problem of water scarcity in the village and made irrigation possible.
In order to conserve soil and water by checking runoff, contour trenches and gully plugs were constructed along the hill slopes. Grass, shrubs and about 3 Lakh (300,000 ) trees were planted along the hillside and the village. This process was supplemented by forestation, nullah bunds, underground check dams, and cemented bandharas (small diversion weirs) at strategic locations. Ralegan has also experimented with drip and bi-valve irrigation. Papaya, lemon, and chillies have been planted on a plot of 80 acres entirely irrigated by the drip irrigation system. Cultivation of water-intensive crops like sugar cane was banned. Crops such as pulses, oil-seeds, and certain cash crops with low water requirements were grown. The farmers started growing high-yield varieties of crop and the cropping pattern of the village was changed. Hazare has helped farmers of more than 70 villages in drought-prone regions in the state of Maharashtra since 1975. When Hazare came in Ralegan Siddhi in 1975 only 70 acres (28 ha) of land was irrigated, Hazare converted it into about 2,500 acres (1,000 ha)
The Government of India plans to start a training centre in Ralegan Siddhi to understand and implement Hazare’s watershed development model in other villages in the country.
As a secondary occupation, milk production was promoted in Ralegan Siddhi. Purchase of new cattle and improvement of the existing breed with the help of artificial insemination and timely guidance and assistance by a veterinarian resulted in an improvement in the cattle stock. Milk production has increased. Crossbreed cows are replacing local ones which gave a lower milk yield. The number of milk cattle has also been growing, which resulted in growth from 100 litres (before 1975) to around 2,500 litres per day. The milk is sent to a co-operative dairy (Malganga Dairy) in Ahmednagar. Some milk is given to Balwadi (kindergarten) children and neighbouring villages.From the surplus funds generated, the milk society bought a mini-truck and a thresher. The mini-truck is used to transport milk to Ahmednagar and to take vegetables and other produce directly to the market, thus eliminating intermediate agents. The thresher is rented out to farmers during the harvesting season.
In 1932, Ralegan Siddhi got its first formal school, a single classroom primary school. In 1962, the villagers added more classrooms through community volunteer efforts. By 1971, out of an estimated population of 1,209, only 30.43% were literate (72 women and 290 men). Boys moved to the nearby towns of Shirur and Parner to pursue higher education, but due to socio-economic conditions, girls could not do the same and were limited to primary education. Hazare, along with the youth of Ralegan Siddhi, worked to increase literacy rates and education levels. In 1976 they started a pre-school and a high school in 1979. The villagers formed a charitable trust, the Sant Yadavbaba Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, which was registered in 1979.
The trust obtained a government grant of 400,000 (US$8,920) for the school building using the National Rural Education Programme. This money funded a new school building that was built over the next two months using volunteer labour. A new hostel was constructed to house 200 students from poorer sections of society. After the opening of the school, a girl from Ralegan Siddhi became the first female in the village to complete her Secondary School Certificate in 1982. Since then the school has been instrumental in bringing in many of changes to the village. Traditional farming practices are taught in this school in addition to the government curriculum.
Removal of untouchability
The social barriers and discrimination that existed due to the caste system in India have been largely eliminated by Ralegan Siddhi villagers. It was Anna Hazares moral leadership that motivated and inspired the people of Ralegan Siddhi to shun untouchability and discrimination against the Dalits. People of all castes come together to celebrate social events. Marriages of Dalits are held as part of community marriage program together with those of other castes. The Dalits have been integrated into the social and economic life of the village. The upper caste villagers have built houses for the lower caste Dalits by Shramdaan.
Most rural poor get into a debt trap as they incur heavy expenses at the time of marriage of their daughter or son. It is an undesirable practice but has almost become a social obligation in India. Ralegan’s people have started celebrating marriages collectively. Joint feasts are held, where the expenses are further reduced by the Tarun Mandal taking responsibility for cooking and serving the food.
The Gandhian philosophy on rural development considers the Gram Sabha as an important democratic institution for collective decision making in the villages of India. Hazare campaigned between 1998 and 2006 for amending the Gram Sabha Act, so that the villagers have a say in the development works in their village. The state government initially refused, but eventually gave in due to public pressure. As per the amendments, it is mandatory to seek the sanction of the Gram Sabha (an assembly of all village adults, and not just the few elected representatives in the gram panchayat) for expenditures on development works in the village. In case of expenditure without the sanction of the Gram Sabha, 20% of Gram Sabha members can lodge a complaint to the chief executive officer of the zilla parishad (the district-level governing body) with their signatures. The chief executive officer is required to visit the village and conduct an inquiry within 30 days and submit a report to the divisional commissioner, who has the power to remove the sarpanch or deputy sarpanch and dismiss the gram sevak involved. Hazare was not satisfied as the amended Act did not include the right to recall a sarpanch. He insisted that this should be included and the state government relented.
“Anna is a shining example of creativity and service by an ex-Serviceman.” -Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa (in 1991)
In Ralegan Siddhi, Gram Sabha meetings are held periodically to discuss issues relating to the welfare of the village. Projects like watershed development activities are undertaken only after they are discussed in the Gram Sabha. All decisions like Nashabandi (bans on alcohol), Kurhadbandi (bans on tree felling), Charai bandi (bans on grazing), and Shramdan were taken in the Gram Sabha. Decisions are taken in a simple majority consensus. The decision of the Gram Sabha is accepted as final.
In addition to the panchayat, there are several registered societies that take care of various projects and activities of the village. Each society presents an annual report and statement of accounts in the Gram Sabha. The Sant Yadavbaba Shikshan Prasarak Mandal monitors the educational activities. The Vividh Karyakari Society gives assistance and provides guidance to farmers regarding fertilizers, seeds, organic farming, and financial assistance. The Sri Sant Yadavbaba Doodh Utpadhak Sahakari Sanstha gives guidance regarding the dairy business. Seven co-operative irrigation societies provide water to the farmers from cooperative wells. The Mahila Sarvage Utkarsh Mandal attends to the welfare needs of women.
“The dream of India as a strong nation will not be realized without self-reliant, self-sufficient villages, this can be achieved only through social commitment and involvement of the common man.” —Anna Hazare
Anti-corruption protests in Maharashtra
In 1991 Hazare launched the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Aandolan (BVJA) (People’s Movement against Corruption), a popular movement to fight against corruption in Ralegaon Siddhi. In the same year he protested against the collusion between 40 forest officials and timber merchants. This protest resulted in the transfer and suspension of these officials.
In May 1997 Hazare protested against alleged malpractices in the purchase of powerlooms by the Vasantrao Naik Bhathya Vimukt Jhtra Governor P. C. Alexander. On 4 November 1997 Gholap filed a defamation suit against Hazare for accusing him of corruption. He was arrested in April 1998 and was released on a personal bond of 5,000 (US$110) On 9 September 1998 Hazare was imprisoned in the Yerawada Jail to serve a three-month sentence mandated by the Mumbai Metropolitan Court. The sentencing came as a huge shock at that time to all social activists. Leaders of all political parties except the BJP and the Shiv Sena came in support of him. Later, due to public protests, the Government of Maharashtra ordered his release from the jail. After release, Hazare wrote a letter to then chief minister Manohar Joshi demanding Gholap’s removal for his role in alleged malpractices in the Awami Merchant Bank. Gholap resigned from the cabinet on 27 April 1999.
In 2003 corruption charges were raised by Hazare against four NCP ministers of the Congress-NCP government. He started his fast unto death on 9 August 2003. He ended his fast on 17 August 2003 after then chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde formed a one-man commission headed by the retired justice P. B. Sawant to probe his charges. The P. B. Sawant commission report, submitted on 23 February 2005, indicted Sureshdada Jain, Nawab Malik, and Padmasinh Patil. The report exonerated Vijaykumar Gavit. Suresh Jain and Nawab Malik resigned from the cabinet in March 2005
Three trusts headed by Anna Hazare were also indicted in the P. B. Sawant commission report. 220,000 (US$4,910) spent by the Hind Swaraj Trust for Anna Hazare’s birthday celebrations was concluded by the commission as illegal and amounting to a corrupt practice, though Abhay Firodia, an industrialist subsequently donated 248,000 (US$5,530) to the trust for that purpose. The setting apart of 11 acres of its land by the trust in favour of the Zilla Parishad without obtaining permission from the charity commissioner was concluded as a case of maladministration. The commission also concluded that the maintenance of accounts of the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Janandolan Trust after 10 November 2001 had not been according to the rules and 46,374 (US$1,030) spent by the Sant Yadavbaba Shikshan Prasarak Mandal Trust for renovating a temple was in contravention to its object of imparting secular education.
Right to Information movement
In the early 2000s Hazare led a movement in Maharashtra state which forced the state government to pass a stronger Maharashtra Right to Information Act. This Act was later considered as the base document for the Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI), enacted by the Union Government. It also ensured that the President of India assented to this new Act. Law professor Alasdair Scott Roberts said:
The state of Maharashtra – home to one of the world’s largest cities, Mumbai, adopted a Right to Information Act in 2003, prodded by the hunger strike of prominent activist, Anna Hazare. (“All corruption can end only if there is freedom of information,” said Hazare, who resumed his strike in February 2004 to push for better enforcement of the Act).
On 20 July 2006 the Union Cabinet amended the Right to Information Act 2005 to exclude the file noting by the government officials from its purview. Hazare began his fast unto death on 9 August 2006 in Alandi against the proposed amendment. He ended his fast on 19 August 2006, after the government agreed to change its earlier decision.
Regulation of Transfers and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Official Duties Act
Before 2006 in the state of Maharashtra, even honest government officers were transferred to other places according to ministers wish. Sometimes within months of being posted to a place, whereas some corrupt and favored officials were cozy in their postings for many years in some cases even for 10 to 20 years and since there was not any guideline or law many government officials were reluctant to process files that contained important public proposals and decisions. Anna fought hard for a law whereby a government servant must clear a file within a specified time and that transfers must take place only after three years. After many years of relentless efforts of Anna, finally on 25 May 2006 state government of Maharashtra issued a notification announcing that the execution of the special act, The Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Official Duties Act 2006, aimed at curbing the delay by its officers and employees in discharging their duties. This act provides for disciplinary action against officials who move files slowly and enables monitoring officials who stay too long in a post, or in a department, and for involvement in a corrupt nexus. Within this act, it is mandatory for the government to effect transfers of all government officers and employees, except Class IV workers, after the stipulated three years. Act also prevents the government from effecting frequent transfers of officers before the stipulated three-year tenure, except in case of emergency and under exceptional circumstances. Maharashtra is the first state in the country to have introduced such act However, like others, this law has also not been followed in its true spirit.
Campaign against liquor from food grains
Constitution of India Article 47 commits the State to raise the standard of living and improve public health, and prohibit the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs injurious to health.
In 2007 Maharashtra Government rolled out the grain-based liquor policy aimed to encourage production of liquor from food grain in the light of the rising demand for spirit – used for industrial purposes and potable liquor and Issue 36 licenses for distilleries for making alcohol from food grains.
Anna Hazare opposed the government’s policy to promote making liquor from food grains in Maharashtra. He argued the government that Maharashtra is a food-deficit State and there was shortage of food grains and it is not logical to promote producing liquor from food grains. One of the State ministers Laxman Dhoble said in his speech that those opposing the decision to allow use of food grains for the production of liquor are anti-farmers and those people should be beaten up with sugarcane sticks. Hazare initiated fast at Shirdi, but on March 21, 2010 government promised to review the policy and Anna ended his 5 day long fast. But the government later granted 36 licences and grants of of 10 (US$0.22) (per litre of alcohol) to politicians or their sons who were directly or indirectly engaged in making alcohol from foodgrains. Some of the main beneficiaries of these licences includes Amit and Dheeraj Deshmukh, sons of Union Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopinath Munde’s daughter Pankaja Palwe and her husband Charudatta Palwe, sons-in-law of P.V. Narasimha Rao, Rajya Sabha MP Govindrao Adik. The government approved the proposal for food grain-based alcohol production in spite of stiff opposition from the planning and finance departments saying there is a huge demand in other countries for food grain made liquor in comparison with that of molasses Anna filed a Public Interest Litigation against the Government of Maharashtra for allowing food-grains for manufacturing liquor in the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court. On August 20, 2009 Maharashtra government stopped the policy. However, distilleries sanctioned before that date and those who started production within two years of sanction were entitled for subsidies.
On May 5, 2011 court refused to hear a Public Interest Litigation saying “not before me, this is a court of law, not a court of justice” as a reason of not hearing the plea. One of Principal Secretary in Maharashtra state C.S. Sangeet Rao, enlighten that there is no law exists to scrap these licences as this is a government policy.
Lokpal Bill movement
In 2011, Hazare initiated a Satyagraha movement for passing a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal (ombudsman) bill in the Indian Parliament as conceived in the Jan Lokpal Bill (People’s Ombudsman Bill). The Jan Lokpal Bill was drafted earlier by N. Santosh Hegde, former justice of the Supreme Court of India and Lokayukta of Karnataka, Prashant Bhushan, a senior lawyer in the Supreme Court and Arvind Kejriwal, a social activist along with members of the India Against Corruption movement. This draft bill incorporated more stringent provisions and wider power to the Lokpal (Ombudsman) than the draft Lokpal bill prepared by the government in 2010.
Hunger strike in Delhi
Hazare began his fast unto death on 5 April 2011 at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to press for the demand to form a joint committee of the representatives of the Government and the civil society to draft a stronger anti-corruption bill with stronger penal actions and more independence to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Ombudsmen in the states), after his demand was rejected by the Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh. He stated, “I will fast until Jan Lokpal Bill is passed”.
The movement attracted attention in the media, and thousands of supporters. Almost 150 people reportedly joined Hazare in his fast. Social activists, including Medha Patkar, Arvind Kejriwal, former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, and Jayaprakash Narayan lent their support to Hazare’s hunger strike and anti-corruption campaign. People have shown support in Internet social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Online Signature Campaigns like avaaz got 6.5lakh signatures in just 36 hours. In addition to spiritual leaders Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Swami Ramdev, Swami Agnivesh and former Indian cricketer Kapil Dev, many celebrities showed their public support through Twitter. Hazare decided that he would not allow any politician to sit with him in this movement. Politicians like Uma Bharti and Om Prakash Chautala were shooed away by the protesters when they came to visit the site where the protest was taking place. On 6 April 2011 Sharad Pawar resigned from the group of ministers formed for reviewing the draft Lokpal bill 2010.
The movement gathered significant support from India’s youth, visible through the local support and on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Protests spread to Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Shillong, Aizawl and a number of other cities in India.
End of hunger strike after meeting demands
On 8 April 2011 the Government of India accepted all demands of the movement. On 9 April 2011 it issued a notification in the Gazette of India on formation of a joint committee. It accepted the formula that there be a politician Chairman and an activist, non-politician Co-Chairman. According to the notification, Pranab Mukherjee will be the Chairman of the draft committee while Shanti Bhushan will be the co-chairman. “The Joint Drafting Committee shall consist of five nominee ministers of the Government of India and five nominees of the civil society. The five nominee Ministers of the Government of India are Pranab Mukherjee, Union Minister of Finance, P. Chidambaram, Union Minister of Home Affairs, M. Veerappa Moily, Union Minister of Law and Justice, Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Human Resource and Development and Minister of Communication and Information Technology and Salman Khursheed, Union Minister of Water Resources and Minister of Minority Affairs. The five nominees of the civil society are Anna Hazare, N. Santosh Hegde, Shanti Bhushan Senior Advocate, Prashant Bhushan, Advocate and Arvind Kejriwal.
On the morning of 9 April 2011 Hazare ended his 98-hour hunger strike by first offering lemon juice to some of his supporters who were fasting with him. Hazare then broke his fast by consuming some lemon juice. He addressed the people and set a deadline of 15 August 2011 to pass the Lokpal Bill in the Indian Parliament.
“Real fight begins now. We have a lot of struggle ahead of us in drafting the new legislation, We have shown the world in just five days that we are united for the cause of the nation. The youth power in this movement is a sign of hope.”
Anna Hazare said that if the bill does not pass he will call for a mass nation-wide agitation He called his movement as “second struggle for independence” and he will continue the fight.
Differences with the government on draft bill
During the meeting of the joint drafting committee on 30 May 2011, the Union government members opposed the inclusion of the prime minister, higher judiciary and the acts of the MPs under the purview of the Lokpal in the draft bill On 31 May 2011, Pranab Mukherjee, chairman of the joint drafting committee sent a letter to the chief ministers of all states and the leaders of the political parties seeking their opinion on six contentious issues in the proposed Lokpal Bill, including whether to bring the prime minister and judges of Supreme Court and High Courts under the purview of the proposed law. But the civil society members of the drafting committee considered that keeping the prime minister and judges of Supreme Court and High Courts out of the purview of the Lokpal would be a violation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
On 6 June 2011, the members of the civil society of the joint Lokpal bill drafting committee in New Delhi sent a letter to Pranab Mukherjee, the chairman of the committee, explaining reasons for their absence at the meeting and also asked government to make its stand public on the contentious issues related to the proposed draft legislation. They also decided that the future meetings will be attended only if they were telecast live. On 8 June 2011 at Rajghat, describing his movement as the second freedom struggle, Anna criticized the Government for trying to discredit the joint Lokpal Bill drafting committee and threatened to go on indefinite fast again from 16 August 2011 if the Lokpal Bill is not passed by then. He also criticised the Government for putting hurdles in the drafting of a strong Lokpal Bill and its attempts to malign the civil society members of the joint Lokpal panel
“We are ready to get arrested and be beaten up but we have had enough of corruption. We are ready to sacrifice our lives” —Anna Hazare
On July 28, 2011 the union cabinet on approved a draft of the Lokpal Bill, which keeps the Prime Minister, judiciary and lower bureaucracy out of the ambit of the proposed corruption ombudsman Lokpal.Hazare rejected the government version by describing it as “cruel joke’’ and wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and told him his decision to go on an indefinite fast from August 16, 2011 at Jantar Mantar if the government introduced its own version of the bill in Parliament without taking suggestions from civil society members
Why are you (government) sending the wrong draft? We have faith in Parliament. But first send the right draft, our agitation is against government, not Parliament. The government has overlooked many points. How will it fight corruption by excluding government employees, CBI and prime minister from the Lokpal’s purview? We were told that both the drafts would be sent to the Cabinet. But only the government’s draft was sent. This is a deceitful government. They are lying. How will they run the country? Now I have no trust in this government. If it is really serious about fighting corruption, why is it not bringing government employees and CBI under Lokpal?- Anna Hazare
Within twenty four hours of cabinet’s endorsement of a weak Lokpal Bill, over ten thousand peoples from across the country sent faxes directly to the government demanding a bill with stronger provisions. The Mumbai Taxi Men’s Union, comprises over 30,000 taxi drivers have extended their full support to Hazare’s fast by keeping all taxis off the roads on August 16, 2011. Lawyers of Allahabad High Court described Lokpal Bill proposed by the government as against the interest of the country and pledged their support to Hazare by hunger strike at Allahabad on August 16, 2011. On July 30, 2011 Vishwa Hindu Parishad supported Hazare’s indefinite fast by saying movement for an effective anti-corruption ombudsman needs the backing of people.
On August 1, Public interest litigation was filed in the Supreme Court of India by Hemant Patil, a Maharashtra-based social worker and businessman, to restrain Hazare from going on his proposed indefinite fast. The petitioner demanded to prohibit the fast alleging that Hazare’s demands are unconstitutional and amount to interference in legislative process
Arrest and aftermath
On August 16 2011, Hazare was arrested four hours before the planned indefinite hunger strike. Rajan Bhagat, spokesman for Delhi Police, said police arrested Hazare under a legal provision that bans public gatherings and protests at the park in Delhi where he was planning to begin his hunger strike. Police took that action after Hazare refused to meet the conditions put forward by police for allowing the protest. The conditions included restricting the length of the fast to three days and the number of protesters at the site to 5,000. Later Anna was sent to Tihar jail under judicial custody for 7 days.
Along with Hazare, other key members of the India Against Corruption movement including Arvind Kejriwal, Shanti Bhushan, Kiran Bedi and Manish Sisodia were also detained from different locations. It was reported that about 1,300 supporters were detained in Delhi. Media also reported that the arrest sparked off protests with people courting arrests in different parts of the country. The opposition parties in the country came out against the arrest, likening the government action to the emergency imposed in the country in 1975. Both the houses of Parliament were adjourned over the issue.
Eventually, after being kept in judicial detention for 24 hours, he was released by police, but Hazare and his supporters refused to sign bail bond and he was sent to Tihar Jail. They demanded permission to observe a fast in support of the Janlokpal bill, without any conditions. Hazare continued his fast inside the jail
After his arrest, Anna Hazare received massive support from people across the country. Peaceful protest rallies and marches were held all over country against the government’s move of arresting Hazare and others.
Electoral reform movement
In 2011, Anna Hazare demanded an amendment to the electoral law to incorporate the option of None of the above in the electronic voting machines during the Indian elections. The “None of the above (NOTA)” is a ballot option that allows an electorate to indicate disapproval of all of the candidates in an electoral system, in case of non-availability of any candidate of his choice, as his Right to Reject. Soon, the Chief Election Commissioner of India Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi supported Hazare’s demand for the electoral reforms.
On 8 June 2011, Anna Hazare and thousands of his supporters observed fast from 10 am to 6 pm at Rajghat to protest against the midnight crackdown of 5 June 2011 by the Delhi Police on Swami Ramdev’s fast at Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi. The fast was initially planned to be held at Jantar Mantar, but the venue was shifted after the denial of permission by the Delhi police. Anna Hazare held the Prime Minister of India responsible for the atrocities and termed the police action as a blot on humanity and an attempt to stifle democracy. According to one of the Anna’s young supporters, the large presence of youths in the protest was due to their support to his use of nonviolence means of protest similar to Gandhi.
Accusations of corruption
The government of the state of Maharashtra instituted a Commission of Inquiry under Justice PB Sawant in September 2003 to inquire into allegations of corruption against several people, including four ministers in the state as well as the “Hind Swaraj Trust” headed by Hazare. The Commission submitted its report on February 22, 2005 in which it indicted the Hind Swaraj Trust for corrupt practice of spending Rs. 2.20 lakhs of its funds on the birthday celebrations of Hazare Two days ahead of Hazare’s proposed indefinite fast on August 16,2011, the ruling party of India, the Indian National Congress, launched an attack on him alleging that “the moral core of Hazare has been ripped apart” by the Justice P B Sawant Commission.
In response to this allegaton, Hazare’s lawyer Milind Pawar, claimed that the commission had remarked about “irregularities” in the accounts, but had not held him guilty of any “corrupt” practices. Pawar said that on June 16, 1998, a celebration was organized to facilitate Hazare on winning an award from a US based NGO and it coincided with his 61st birthday. The trust spent Rs 2.18 lakh for the function. Abhay Phirodia, a Pune-based industrialist, who took the initiative to organise this function donated an amount of Rs 2,48,950 to the trust by cheque soon after the function.
Hazare himself responded to the allegation by daring the government to file a First Information Report (FIR) against him to prove the charges
Conspiracy for murder
Anna Hazare has exposed large corruption in co-operative sugar factories of Maharashtra. One of the sugar factories which Anna exposed corruption is controlled by Padamsinh Bajirao Patil, a member of Parliament of 15th Lok Sabha and higher-ranking Leader of Nationalist Congress Party from Osmanabad, and also a prime accused and conspirator in the 2006 murder case of Indian National Congress leader Pawanraje Nimabalkar.
The conspiracy to kill Hazare was exposed when Parasmal Jain, an accused in the Nimbalkar murder case, in his written confession before a magistrate said that Padamsinh Bajirao Patil had paid a sum of 3,000,000 (US$66,900) to murder Nimbalkar, and also offered him supari (contract killing sum) to kill Anna Hazare.
Honours, Awards and International Recognition
|Year of Award or Honor||Name of Award or Honor||Awarding Organization|
|2008||Jit Gill Memorial Award||World Bank|
|2005||Honorary Doctorate||Gandhigram Rural University|
|2003||Integrity Award||Transparency International|
|1998||CARE International Award||CARE (relief agency)|
|1992||Padma Bhushan||President of India|
|1990||Padma Shri||President of India|
|1989||Krishi Bhushana Award||Government of Maharashtra|
|1986||Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra Award||Government of India|
Anna Hazare is unmarried. He lives in a small room attached to the Sant Yadavbaba temple in Ralegan Siddhi since 1975. He never visited his home though it is in same village. On April 16, 2011, he declared his bank balance of 67,183 (US$1,500) and 1,500 (US$30) as money in hand. He owns 0.07 hectares of family land in Ralegan Siddhi which is being used by his brothers. Two other pieces of land donated to him by the Indian Army and by a villager have been donated by him for village use. He receives only a pension from the Indian army as Income.
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