Anna Hazare

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Anna Hazare was born as Kisan Baburao Hazare to Baburao Hazare, an unskilled laborer in Ayurveda Ashram Pharmacy, in the village of Bhingar near Hinganghat city in Bombay Province, presently in Maharashtra.

 

After his grandfather’s death in 1945 who served in the Indian army, his father continued working in Bhingar till 1952, after which he resigned and returned to his ancestral home in Ralegan Siddhi. Due to financial hardships, Anna Hazare was looked after by his childless aunt who took him to Mumbai and funded his education. Here in Mumbai, he studied till class seven and took up employment to support his family.

 

 Highly inspired by patriotism and love for his country, Anna Hazare joined the Indian Army in 1963, despite not fulfilling the physical requirements. Here began his career as an Indian army soldier, starting as a truck driver, after successful training at Aurangabad in Maharashtra.

 

When Pakistan attacked India in 1965, he was posted at Khem Karan border, where all his comrades turned martyrs, but Anna managed to survive a close shave as a bullet just passed by his head. This incident forced him to think upon the existence of humans and meaning of life and death.

 

Swami Vivekananda proved to be a great inspiration for him, post reading the small booklet “Call to the youth for nation building” he found at a book stall at the New Delhi railway station. It was at this point that he decided to dedicate his entire life for serving humanity.

 

He was just 26 at that time. Hunger strikes became his tool of protest with high-profile politicians being his target. The movement found 42 forest officers guilty for duping hundreds of crores through corruption.

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Even though Anna Hazare handed over the evidences to the government, the government was reluctant in taking action against the culprits since some officers of the ruling party were themselves involved in the scam. Distressed and heart-broken, Anna Hazare protested and was imprisoned, a step that was supported by all social activists and political leaders of all parties, except BJP and Shiv Sena.

 

To force the government raise charges against another set of political leaders, he began his fast unto death on August 9, 2003, which ended on August 17, 2003 with the then chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde forming a one-man commission to find evidence against the convicts.

 

Along the way he was awarded the Padma Shri (1990) and Padma Bhushan (1992) awards, high civilian honors from the Indian government, for his social work. Hazare truly leapt onto the national stage in 2011, when he founded India against Corrpution (IAC), “an expression of collective anger of people of India against corruption.”

 

He began leading a public hunger strike on 5 April 2011 in order to urge Indian legislators to pass an anti-corruption law (or “Lokpal bill”).¬† That strike ended in triumph on April 9th after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised to bring a strong anti-corruption bill before parliament. Hazare continued to fast and agitate on the topic throughout 2011.