Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare (born 15 January 1940), popularly known as Anna Hazare, is an Indian social activist who is especially recognized for his contribution to the development of Ralegan Siddhi, a village in Parner taluka of Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra, India and his efforts for establishing it as a model village, for which he was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1992.
On 5 April 2011, Hazare started a ‘fast unto death’ to exert pressure on the Government of India to enact a strong anti-corruption act as envisaged in the Jan Lokpal Bill, a law that will establish a Lokpal (ombudsman) that will have the power to deal with corruption in public offices. The fast led to nation wide protests in support of Hazare. The fast ended on 9 April 2011 with two of the most important demands of the movement — that at least 50% of the members of the bill draft committee be non-politicians and that the Co-chairman of the draft committee be a non-politician — met by the Government of India.
Anna Hazare was born on January 15, 1940 in a small village, Bhingar, near Ahmednagar India. Anna’s father Shri Baburao Hazare worked as an unskilled labourer in Ayurveda Ashram Pharmacy. Anna’s grandfather was in the army and was posted at Bhingar when Anna was born. He died in 1945 but Anna’s father continued to stay at Bhingar. In 1952 Anna’s father resigned from his job and returned to his own village i.e. Ralegan Siddhi. At that time Anna had completed his education upto 4th standard and had six younger siblings. It was with great difficulty that Anna’s father could make two ends meet. Anna’s aunt (father’s sister) took Anna to Mumbai. She was childless and she offered to look after him and his education.
Anna studied upto the 7th standard in Mumbai. He took up a job after the 7th standard in consideration of the economic situation back home. Anna’s father at Ralegan had to work as a daily wage labourer and found it difficult to sustain his family. He was slipping deeper and deeper into debt. He had to sell off one part of his land and mortgage the other. Anna started selling flowers at Dadar in order to make his living. But Anna’s working at somebody’s shop for Rs. 40 a month was not enough. After gaining some experience, he started his own shop and even brought two of his brothers to Mumbai. Gradually Anna’s income went up to Rs. 700 to Rs. 800 per month.
In a couple of years Anna fell into bad company and started wasting his time and money on vices. He also started getting involved in brawls and fights, especially when he found some simple person being harassed by goondas. He became irregular in sending money to his family. The word went around in Ralegan that he had become a bad character himself. In one such fight, Anna bashed up a person rather badly. Fearing arrest, he avoided coming to his regular work and residence for some time. During this period (in April 1960) he appeared in Army recruitment interviews and was selected to join the Indian Army
Lokpal Bill movement
On 5 April 2011, Anna Hazare initiated a movement for passing a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal (ombudsman) bill in the Indian Parliament. As a part of this movement, N. Santosh Hegde, a former justice of the Supreme Court of India and Lokayukta of Karnataka, Prashant Bhushan, a senior lawyer in the Supreme Court along with the members of the India Against Corruption movement drafted an alternate bill, named as the Jan Lokpal Bill (People’s Ombudsman Bill) with more stringent provisions and wider power to the Lokpal (Ombudsman). Hazare began a fast unto death from 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 new 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 Before commencing his ‘fast unto death’ he stated, “I will fast until Jan Lokpal Bill is passed”.
The movement attracted attention very quickly through various media. It has been reported that thousands of people joined to support Hazare’s effort. Almost 150 people reportedly joined Hazare in his fast. He said 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 protesters when they came to visit the site where the protest was taking place. A number of social activists including Medha Patkar, Arvind Kejriwal and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, Jayaprakash Narayan of the Lok Satta have lent their support to Hazare’s hunger strike and anti-corruption campaign. This movement has also been joined by many people providing their support in Internet social media such as twitter and facebook. 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 micro-blogging site Twitter. As a result of this movement, on 6 April 2011 Sharad Pawar resigned from the group of ministers formed for reviewing the draft Lokpal bill 2010. Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi also supported the anti corruption icon Anna Hazare and has urged cricket fans to carry flags and placards to IPL matches to express support to fasting Gandhian Anna Hazare and Jan Lokpal Bill; this was confirmed through the micro-blogging site twitter.
The movement gathered significant support from India’s youth visible through the local support and on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. There have also been protests in Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, and Ahmedabad among other cities of India.
On 8 April 2011, the Government of India partly accepted an important demand of the movement; that the committee for drafting the Jan Lokpal Bill be headed by a citizen activist. While the government expressed its inability to fulfill this demand citing severe opposition from politicians, it accepted the compromise formula that there be a politician chairman and an activist, non-politician Co-Chairman. It was reported that Pranab Mukherjee will be the Chairman of the draft committee while Shanti Bhushan will be the co-chairman. Shanti Bhushan was one of the original drafters of the Lokpal Bill along with former IPS Kiran Bedi, Justice N. Santosh Hegde, advocate Prashant Bhushan, former chief election commissioner J. M. Lyngdoh and the leaders of the India Against Corruption movement and the civil society . (via wikipedia.com)