Friday, 6 May 2011

Anna Hazare

Anna Hazare

Kisan Baburao Hazare (born 15 January 1940), popularly known as Anna Hazare, is an Indian social activist who is especially recognised 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—the third-highest civilian award—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 to establish a Lokpal (ombudsman) with the power to deal with corruption in public offices. The fast led to nationwide protests in support of Hazare. The fast ended on 9 April 2011, the day after all of Hazare's demands were agreed by the government of India. The government issued a gazette notification on the formation of a joint committee (of government and civil society representatives) to draft an effective Lokpal Bill.

Known for:

1) Watershed development programmes
2) Right to Information movement
3) Anti-corruption movement

Early life

Anna Hazare was born on 15 January 1940 in Bhingar, a small village near the city of Ahmednagar, in Bombay Province (present-day Maharashtra). Hazare's father, Baburao Hazare, worked as an unskilled labourer in Ayurveda Ashram Pharmacy. His grandfather was in the army, posted at Bhingar, when Anna was born. He died in 1945 but Hazare's father continued to stay at Bhingar. In 1952, Hazare's father resigned from his job and returned to his own village, Ralegan Siddhi. Hazare had six younger siblings and the family faced significant hardships. Hazare's childless aunt offered to look after him and his education, and took Anna to Bombay (now known as Mumbai).

Hazare studied up to the 7th standard in Bombay 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. Gradually Hazare's income increased to around Rs. 800 per month, a decent income in those times.

In the Indian Army

Anna Hazare started his career in the Indian Army as a driver in 1963. He spent his spare time reading the works of Vivekananda, Gandhi, and Vinoba Bhave; they inspired him to become a social worker and activist. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 he was the only survivor in a exchange of border fire while driving a truck in Khem Karan sector. During the mid-1970s he survived a road accident while driving.

Transformation of Ralegan Siddhi

“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
& involvement of the common man.” – Anna Hazare

After voluntary retirement from the army, Hazare went to Ralegan Siddhi village in 1975. Initially he organised the youth of the village into an organisation named the Tarun Mandal (Youth Association). He helped to form the Pani Puravatha Mandals (Water Supply Associations) to ensure proper distribution of water

Uprooting alcoholism

Hazare and the youth group next decided to take up the issue of alcoholism. At a meeting conducted in the temple, the villagers 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.

Some villagers continued to drink in Ralegan Siddhi, as they obtained their liquor from neighbouring villages. The villagers decided that those men would be given three warnings, after which they would be physically punished. Twelve men who were found in a drunken state after warnings were tied to a pole with help from the youth group and flogged. Hazare said, “Doesn’t a mother administer bitter medicines to a sick child when she knows that the medicine can cure her child? The child may not like the medicine, but the mother does it only because she cares for the 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 (a speciality cigarette) 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 any shops at Ralegan Siddhi.

Watershed development programme

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 of water in the village and made irrigation possible. The first embankment that was built using volunteer efforts developed a leak and had to be reconstructed, this time with government funding.

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 afforestation, 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 (32 ha) entirely irrigated by the drip irrigation system. Cultivation of water-intensive crops like sugar cane was banned. Crops such as pulses, oilseeds, 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.

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

Milk production

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. Crossbred 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 under the child nutrition program sponsored by the Zilla Parishad.

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 socioeconomic 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 Rs. 4 lakhs (400,000) 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. People of all castes come together to celebrate social events. The Dalits have been integrated into the social and economic life of the village. The villagers have built houses for the Dalits, and helped to repay their loans to free them from their indebtedness.

Collective marriages

Most rural poor get into a debt trap as they incur heavy expenses at the time of marriage of their son or daughter. 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 vessels, the loudspeaker system, the mandap, and the decorations have also been bought by the Tarun Mandal members belonging to the oppressed castes. From 1976 to 1986, 424 marriages have been held under this system.

Gram Sabha

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.

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 the welfare needs of women

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 Jamati Vikas Manch and the Mahatma Phule Magasvargiya Vikas Mandal. These institutions were directly under the charge of then Maharashtra Social Welfare minister Babanrao Gholap of the Shiv Sena, since their managing committees were dissolved after the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party government came to power in the state in 1995. Hazare also raised the issue of an alleged massive land purchase by Gholap's wife Shashikala in Nashik between April and September 1996. He forwarded the available documentary evidence to then Maharashtra 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 Rs 5,000. 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. The report also indicted Hazare for corruption for the use of Rs. 2.20 lakh of funds from the Hind Swaraj Trust, which he heads, for his birthday celebrations, in spite of a subsequent donation of Rs. 2.48 lakh by industrialist Abhay Firodia to the trust for that purpose. Suresh Jain and Nawab Malik resigned from the cabinet in March 2005

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 notings 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.

Lokpal Bill movement
On 5 April 2011 Hazare initiated a movement for passing a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal (ombudsman) bill in the Indian Parliament. Along with members of the India Against Corruption movement, former justice of the Supreme Court of India and Lokayukta of Karnataka N. Santosh Hegde and Prashant Bhushan, a senior lawyer in the Supreme Court, drafted an alternate bill called the Jan Lokpal Bill (People's Ombudsman Bill). This bill provides more stringent provisions and wider power to the Lokpal (Ombudsman).[38] 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. There have also been protests in Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Shillong, and Aizawl, among other cities of India.

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.

Electoral reform movement

In 2011, Anna Hazare demanded for 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 Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi supported Hazare's demand for the electoral reforms.

Awards and honours


• 2011 – Rabindranath Tagore International Peace Prize, awarded by the Indian Institute of Planning and Management.
• 2008 – On 15 April 2008 Hazare received the World Bank's 2008 Jit Gill Memorial Award for Outstanding Public Service: "Hazare created a thriving model village in Ralegaon Siddhi, in the impoverished Ahmednagar region of Maharashtra state, and championed the right to information and the fight against corruption."
• 1992 – Padma Bhushan award, by the Government of India
• 1990 – Padma Shri award, by the Government of India
• 1989 – Krishi Bhushana award by the Government of Maharashtra.
• 1986 – Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra award by the Government of India on 19 November 1986 from the hands of Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi.


He was felicitated by the Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation on 15 January 1987 and by the Pune Municipal Corporation.

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