Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Anna Hazare; an Indian social activist, the development of Ralegan Siddhi, Lokpal Bill movement, Awards given to Anna Hazare

Dr.Kisan Baburao Hazare, 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 Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra, India and his efforts for establishing it as a model village, for which he was awarded the Padma Bhushan by Govt. of India, in 1992. On April 5, 2011, he has started a fast unto death to make a pressure on union government to enact a law on Lokpal that deals with corruption in public offices.

Anna Hazare was born at Bhingar on 15th June, 1938. He was the eldest grandchild in the family and had his primary school education at Bhingar. During the 1962 Chinese Aggression, Anna responded to a call to join the army. Anna signed up and after due training was assigned to the army supply corps as a driver of a supplies truck. It was between 1962 and the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 that Anna Hazare was overcome by the urge to seek meaning in life.

In 1965, while on active duty reading supplies to the front during the war near Khemkaran in the Lahore sector, the supplies convoy Hon. Anna Hazare was with, was attacked by a couple of enemy salore Jets leaving most people dead or grievously injured. The vehicle being driven by Hon. Anna Hazare was severely hit, the Jawan (soldier) sitting next to him had his legs blown off. Apart from a sharpnel piece grazing his forehead, Anna Hazare was miraculously unharmed. On thinking about this incident a while later he took this incident to mean that he had been given a new lease of life to spend it in the service of the Country's poor. He made it his life's mission to follow this tenet lucidly expounded by Swami Vivekanand.

Anna opted for voluntry retirement, and armed with a modest pension returned to his native Ralegan Siddhi to serve his community. He resolved not to marry and would start a family for that would have only bound him to family responsibilities of keeping the Kitchen fires well tended to. But he was never able to rid himself of family bonds. Instead of the couple of children his family would have been limited to he was now responsible for the whole community his true family. When he returned to Ralegan in August 1975, he found that there were 35-40 illicit liquor stills operating in the village . Because of little rain, agriculture output was low and hence some people per force turned to this business. He began his activities with the rehabilitation of this structure out of his own provident fund and the gratuity receipts amounting to about Rs.20,000. He knew that a Mandir is always regarded as a sacred place by the villagers and it would be the right place to bring the people together.
Anna Hazare was arrested in 1998 when a defamation suit was filed against him by then Maharashtra Social Welfare minister Babanrao Golap. He was released following public uproar.

In 2011, Anna Hazare led 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 decided to start a fast upto 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 more 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 Dr. Manmohan Singh.

The movement attracted attention very quickly through various media. It has been reported that thousands of people joined to support Mr. Hazare's effort. Almost 150 people are reported to join Mr. Hazare in his fast. He said that he would not allow any politician to sit with him in this movement. Many social activists including Medha Patkar, Arvind Kejriwal and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi have lent their support to Hazare's hunger strike and anti-corruption campaign.

This movement has also been joined by many people providing their suppport in Internet social media such as twitter and facebook. Many celebrities like Shekhar Kapur, Siddharth Narayan,Anupam Kher, Madhur Bhandarkar, Pritish Nandy, Prakash Raj,Aamir Khan showed their public support through twitter.

1. Padmashree award by government of India in the year 1990
2. Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra award, by government of India on November 19, 1986 from the hands of Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi.
3. Krishi Bhushana award by Maharashtra government in 1989.
4. Felicitation by Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation 15 January 1987
5. Felicitation by Pune Municipal Corporation.
6. On April 15, 2008, Kisan Baburao Hazare received the World Bank's 2008 Jit Gill Memorial Award for Outstanding Public Service: "Hazare created a thriving model village in Ralegan Siddhi, in the impoverished Ahmednagar region of Maharashtra state, and championed the right to information and the fight against corruption."
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