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Did you know... who is Anna Hazare?

Posted by smartindians Monday, 15 August 2011

"Today we will not just be like Gandhiji, but if the government doesn’t accept the peoples demands, we will become like Chhatrapati Shivaji." - Anna Hazare
This luminous man was the first child born to an unskilled laborer couple Baburao Hazare and Laxmi Bai on January 15, 1940 in the small village of Bhingar, not far from Amednagar, Maharashtra. He was named as Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare  now popularly known as Anna Hazare

In 1952, when Anna was twelve years old, adverse conditions pushed their family into the grip of poverty and Anna Hazare moved into his ancestral home in Ralegan Siddhi. Anna Hazare was brought up by a childless aunt in Mumbai, who funded his education but financial instability pushed him into selling flowers at Dadar for a living and he had to quit studies after class VII.
Soon after in 1963, after the outbreak of the Indo-China War, when the government exhorted young men to join the Army , Anna Hazare joined the Indian Army and trained as truck driver .

During his 15-year tenure as a soldier, he serviced at several states like Assam, Sikkim, Mizoram, Bhutan, Jammu-Kashmir,  Leh and Ladakh, but his days were spent reading books on the philosophy of Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and Acharya Vinoba Bhave.
In 1978, two near-fatal mishaps in the previous war with Pakistan changed his outlook towards life and seeking voluntary retirement from the Army, he returned home to Ralegaon Siddhi, which was then in the grip of drought, poverty, crimes and alcoholism. He was then 39 years old.

Hazare was became very depressed by the next battlefront of drought, poverty, illiteracy, alcoholism, and caste prejudice existed in Ralegaon Siddhi.  Anna Hazare was a deep thinker and observer of life as well as an industrious young man.  Endless difficulties made him question the goal of his human existence.  Unable to find it, he contemplated suicide.  He wrote two pages explaining his desire to end his life but carried on nevertheless.

One day at the New Delhi Railway Station, he chanced upon a book on Swami Vivekananda. Drawn by Vivekananda's photograph, he purchased and read the book and found his answer - that the motive of his life lay in service to his fellow humans.  It was the supreme moment of his life, a great phenomenon in the history of man’s spiritual journey.  He read the works of Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave.  Swamiji Vivekananda’s dynamic words and blazing, fearless example of spiritual strength gave Anna Hazare the direction to follow. That turned him to social work. He was endowed with a new vision of life.  The problems in his village became a golden opportunity to apply Swamiji’s message.

    Anna Hazare immediately harnessed the youthful energy of Ralegaon Siddhi into the powerful Tarun Mandal and created various successful programmes of socio-economic and agricultural improvement in the village. He used his savings for the developmental work of the village. He greatly advanced education and removed caste prejudice.  He brought about the prohibition of tobacco, cigarettes, beedies and the illegal production and sale of alcohol through very strict methods of enforcement with the approval of the Gram Sabha.

He motivated villagers into voluntary labour. Canals and bunds were built to hold rainwater which solved the water scarcity problem and also increased irrigation possibilities in the village.  Hazare, further economically transformed the lives of  seventy other villages through a successful watershed development program.

Anna Hazare's fight against corruption began here. He fought first against corruption that was blocking growth in rural India. His organization - the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan (People's movement against Corruption). His tool of protest - Hunger Strikes. And his prime target - Politicians

For more than two decades, Anna Hazare has been heroically fighting corruption through peaceful agitation and hunger strikes, following the example of Mahatma Gandhi.  He always fought together with the Tarun Mandal, the band of young men who were inspired to follow his idealism.  He was once jailed for his steadfastness but released after three months due to the public outcry and support.
In 1996, Hazare forced the Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra to drop two corrupt Cabinet Ministers. In 2003, he forced the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state to set up an investigation against for ministers.

He describes the anti-corruption movement to which he dedicates his life as the “second struggle for independence.”  The inspiring demonstration of his strength of character makes an immense impact on the people.  His fasts—always in the presence of the photographs of Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi—were captured in the public media of the Internet.  The people of India have shown very great enthusiasm.  Anna Hazare virtually and universally arouses the sincere interest of thousands of people from India and abroad.  Well known social activists have joined his campaign against corruption.

His method of eradicating corruption through hunger strikes, including the one in 2011 at age 71, was previously repeated several times.  It was only in 2011 that he became famous when the entire world came to know of him due to the public outcry and media attention.  His vow to call for a nationwide demonstration if the anti-corruption ombudsman bill (Lokpal) was not passed, caused the Indian Parliament to agree to all his demands on April 8, 2011.  Nearly 150 people had fasted with him; he excluded all politicians.  Hazare ended his 98-hour fast that began on April 5, 2011 in the same selfless manner that he has lived his entire life.  He first offered lemon juice to some of those who supported him by fasting.  Then he took a little sip and addressed the people: “The 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.”

His achivements have won him many awards like the Indira Priyadarshini Award, the Krishi Bhushana Award (1989), the Padma Shree Award (1990), the Padma Bhusan Award (1992), Ramon Magsaysay Award and World Bank’s 2008 Jit Gill Memorial Award for Outstanding Public Service. This year, the Indian Institute of Planning and Management awarded Anna Hazare the Rabindranath Tagore International Peace Prize.

Care International of the USA, Transparency International, Seoul (South Korea) also felicitated him.

Anna Hazare is not an ordinary person from a humble background.  He is a transformed, self-made man of the people, a true native of India’s spiritual culture.  India alone can produce such a saintly personality as Anna Hazare from her backward, impoverished masses.  He has come to the global forefront neither by glamour or notoriety, nor by the influence of great wealth or political power.  He is known throughout the world today by his soul force alone, through the straightforward demonstration of the strength of his character, through his sincerity, honesty, acute mental vision, and dedication to a noble cause.  His life is a demonstration of the triumph of the human spirit over extreme odds.  His moral authority and fiery faith bring others to his good cause.  Anna Hazare has become the symbol of the righteous battle against corruption in India, and thus, by geographic extension, against corruption everywhere in the world.

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About this video - (In 2007, Anna Hazare gave a very inspiring speech at a youth camp that was organized by All World Gayatri Pariwar ( at Ralegeon Siddhi. If you would like to have first hand experience of what happens when one's thoughts, speech and action becomes one and the height of fearlessness to fight corruption in India, this is a must watch video. He also shared his life story in this lecture. Please share this post with others by email/facebook/tweeter and contribute to the fight taken by respected Annaji.)

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