Anna Hazare, byname of Kisan Baburao Hazare, (born June 15, 1938?, Bhingar, near Ahmadnagar, India), Indian social activist who led movements to promote rural development, increase government transparency, and investigate and punish official corruption. In addition to organizing and encouraging grassroots movements, Hazare frequently conducted hunger strikes to further his causes—a tactic reminiscent, to many, of the work of Mohandas K. Gandhi.
Hazare was born to a farming family and grew up in the village of Ralegan Siddhi, near Ahmadnagar in what is now west-central Maharashtra state. He joined the army in 1963, becoming a driver. While stationed on the border with Pakistan in 1965 during the Indo-Pakistani War, he narrowly survived an attack by Pakistani forces that killed many other soldiers in his unit. Several years prior to that incident, Hazare had discovered the writings of the Hindu leader Vivekananda, under whose spiritual philosophy he began contemplating the meaning of life. He eventually determined to use his post-military life to improve the common welfare. He remained in the army until 1978, when he became eligible for retirement with a pension that would enable him to pursue his activism.
After his military service Hazare began a rural development project in Ralegan Siddhi, which suffered from poverty, drought, unemployment, and crime. Working with the villagers, Hazare started a water conservation program that included land forestation and building weirs, which greatly improved the water supply. The initiative continued with agricultural reforms to improve crop yields and increase available farmland. Eventually, full employment was restored, and the village was able to become self-sufficient in the production of grains. With their greater economic security, residents undertook a number of further improvements, donating their labour to erect a school, a temple, and other buildings. In addition, they established a number of social welfare projects and cooperatives. The transformation in Ralegan Siddhi came to the notice of state officials, who used the program as a model for similar efforts in dozens of villages across Maharashtra.
In 1991 Hazare turned his attention to the ongoing problem of government corruption in Maharashtra as well as at the federal level, particularly because of the hindrance it posed to rural development. He established the People’s Movement Against Corruption, which found evidence that a large number of forestry officials had been bilking the state government. The government, however, proved reluctant to punish those involved. In protest, Hazare began a hunger strike that, together with other forms of activism, spurred the government eventually to remove hundreds of corrupt functionaries from their positions.
His experience battling bureaucracy encouraged Hazare to begin campaigning in Maharashtra in 1997 for a “right to information” law. Such a law—long promised and even drafted by the government but never enacted—would provide citizens with the ability to petition public authorities for information about the workings of their government and would establish the government’s legal responsibility to give a timely response. Hazare and others made efforts for years to raise public awareness on the issue, but without tangible results. Thus, in July 2003 he again began a public “fast unto death” to increase the pressure on authorities. Twelve days later the draft legislation was enacted. The Maharashtra law served as the model for the national Right to Information Act that was passed by parliament in 2005.
Hazare continued to push for greater government accountability. In 2010 the government drafted a version of a national law, long called for by activists, that would establish a national citizen’s ombudsman to investigate corruption. Hazare and his associates, however, believed that the legislation, called the Jan Lokpal Bill (or Citizen’s Ombudsman Bill), did not give the ombudsman enough powers to make it effective. Activists wanted the ombudsman to be able to investigate corruption at all levels. In April 2011 Hazare began another hunger strike to further these demands, and after several days the government agreed to consult with anticorruption activists on the law. The bill that was presented to parliament in early August, however, left out several key demands, including the stipulation that the watchdog organization be empowered to investigate and prosecute cases involving the prime minister, senior members of the judiciary, and members of parliament. Instead, the latter offices were exempted, and the ombudsman’s office was empowered only to make recommendations. To protest the perceived weakness of the draft legislation, Hazare announced on August 16 that he would begin another public hunger strike of indefinite length; shortly afterward he was arrested and jailed to prevent him from fasting more than three days without a permit. After negotiating with the police, an agreement was reached that allowed Hazare to fast for up to 15 days as part of a public protest in a park in Delhi. In the end, Hazare’s fast lasted 13 days. He halted it after the parliament passed a resolution agreeing in principle to several key demands, including that the Lokpal be allowed to investigate top officials and that an anticorruption unit be established in every Indian state.
Corruption is found in the government when instead of thinking about the interests of the citizens as a whole, the members of the government are chiefly interested in promoting their own selfish interests.
Corruption is found in both public and private organizations and everyone starting from the clerk to the Managing Director of a company is corrupt in a way or the other. The clerk takes small bribes from the people who visit the office so that their work is finished early than the others who are waiting in a queue.
In India, bribes are also accepted in a few temples where devotees offering bribes are given priority over others to visit the temple.
Parents offer bribes in schools and colleges to get their child admitted. There is no institution, no organization which is not corrupt in a way or the other.
But the question that arises is that can an anti-corruption movement be started and if yes, shall it be successful.
The answer depends largely on the adaptation of anti-corruption measures by both the government and the citizens. It is essential for all the Indians to stop taking bribe and also to stop offering bribe in any form.
This is the foundation on which the success of any anti- corruption measure will depend. A recent example of anti- corruption measure has been adopted by Mr. Anna Hazare against the existing system of government. He was of the opinion that the Lokpal Bill should be passed in both the houses of the Parliament as a result of which all the ministers and the members of the Parliament would become answerable before the law.
The movement also supported by Mr. Arvind Kejriwal and was successful initially because it instilled among the citizens the awareness of the necessity to pass the Lokpal bill but this movement proved to be unsuccessful in the later stages when the Lokpal bill failed to pass.
Corruption is an incurable disease which all the citizens should try to combat by hook or by crook. It is only because of the corrupt politicians that today India is burdened with enormous loans from the developed countries especially America. It has been estimated that if the money deposited In the Swiss Bank of Switzerland by the Indian politicians return to India, not only will India be free from all the loans but the rising prices of different commodities would immediately shoot down.
People should be allowed to re- elect the candidate they voted for if he fails to fulfill the promises that he made while contesting the elections. People are of the opinion that corruption is a way of life and nothing can be done to eradicate it. It is essential to understand that unless we as the citizens are not determined to do away with corruption from the roots, how we can expect the government to be corruption- free.