Saturday, August 20, 2011

Anna Hazare Rekindles Gandhi’s Fire To Purify India

A man, who once contemplated suicide and even scribbled a two-page note on why he wanted to end his life, is the new Gandhi of India. Indian government, led by foreign educated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had jailed the aging Hazare when he threatened with fast-until-death protesting India’s corruption.

Kuldip Nayar, one of India’s most respected political analyst commented on the action of Indian government, “It is bungling, mishandling. They do not know at all how wide and how deep the resentment is.” And of course the mercurial Nayar was right. The jailing of Hazare sparked nationwide protests, and forced Singh's government on defensive. Singh criticized Hazare as out of touch, and dismissed his fast as "totally misconceived" and claimed that Hazare’s action was undermining the parliamentary democracy. At the end it was found Singh himself was out of touch and had no idea what Indians want today.

Students, lawyers, teachers, business executives, IT workers and civil servants, people from all walks of life took to the streets in New Delhi, and other major cities, and also remote villages stretching from north to south and east to west—the breadth of India. Outside the jail that once held Hazare, a 21 year-old Sweta Dua said , “We are India's youth. We are with Anna. I've already seen corruption at this age. In my college people got admitted despite being unable to clear the required cut-off scores, simply by paying money.”

Sujeet, a young software engineer from the IT city of Gurgaon said, “We don't have faith in our government. We are living in a democracy but only in letter, not in spirit.” The editor of the weekly Outlook magazine, Vinod Mehta said, “The movement has meant politicians realize that they cannot fudge these issues or ignore public opinion any longer. It has succeeded in concentrating the minds of politicians across the political spectrum on one issue for the first time”

The crowds on the streets are mix of young and old, rich and poor, educated and uneducated. Some youths had rucksacks on their backs, painted face, olders were decked in outfits as worn by the Hazare himself, complete with white cap and kurta.

Who is this Anna Hazare?

Born Kisan Baburao Hazare, June 15, 1937, however, popularly known as Anna Hazare, he is an Indian social activist who is especially recognized for movement against corruption, and his contribution to the development and structuring of a model village in Parner Taluka of Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra. For this action, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan—the third-highest civilian award—by the government of India in 1992.

A diminutive man in his seventies, dressed in white cotton, he once served in the Indian army that had temporarily relaxed the requirement for height and weight, because of dire need of new recruits at the time of Indo-China war. Once out of the army, he was frustrated with life and did not want to live anymore, since he did not see any purpose of his life. The storyline is: One day at the New Delhi Railway Station, in that dejected frame of mind, Anna came upon a book on Swami Vivekananda. He read the book and found the answer to his quest—the motive of his life is service to his fellow humans.

Today, Anna Hazare, in his pure white adornment, is the face of India's fight against corruption. He has given voice to the millions of voiceless Indians and taken the people’s fight to the corridors of power, and shaken the bastion of government at the highest level. Common populace, and well-known personalities alike are joining enmasse supporting Hazare, crowds swelling to the thousands.

Anna Hazare is a few of the remnant Indian politicians who had modeled their lives on Mahatma Gandhi, and embraced his weapon of “fasting” to unite people against falsehood. The word “mahatma” connotes great soul, and there has not been a greater soul to walk on the surface of earth than Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the bapu (father)—anyone who disputes this is ignorant of bapu.

Many Indians such as Manmohon Singh believes, Gandhi’s time came and went—in today’s environment he would not be successful! Anna Hazare demonstrates that Gandhi is as relevant today as he had been in his time.

Republished from Technorati.


  1. Reporting from India ... photos taken by me (yes me!). The first photo was taken in Delhi, by the maidaan where Anna was holding his hunger strike. The second photo taken in Calcutta (pardon me, Kolkata) earlier today. This is the most non-violent peaceful rally ever held in India since Gandhi ... quite amazing!
    Afzal Ali

  2. Thaks. I will use them on my next article on Hazare. Stay well!