Anna Hazare: India’s Leading Graft-buster does it again!

Anna Hazare: Just Say NO!
This 71-year-old Gandhian is the new face of anti-corruption activism in India.

His name is Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare, but he is popularly known as Anna Hazare. He is an Indian social activist who is giving voice to mass sentiment against pervasive corruption that has shocked Indian society in recent months.

On 5 April 2011, Anna Hazare started a Satyagraha, or a fast unto death, to pressurise the Government of India to enact a strong anti-corruption law that will establish a Lokpal (ombudsman) with the power to deal with corruption in public offices. The fast led to nationwide protests in support of Hazare. It ended four days laater, on 9 April 2011, with the government agreeing to all of his demands: it issued a gazette notification on formation of a joint committee headed by senior minister Pranab Mukherjee to draft an effective Lokpal Bill.

Anna Hazare has a long involvement in rural development, self reliance and anti-corruption work. In 1991, he launched the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Aandolan (BVJA), or People’s Movement against Corruption.

For more information, I want to share what two Indian journalist friends have produced about this remarkable man.

Kalpana Sharma has written this profile for BBC Online, tracing the man’s progress and the emergence of a popular movement against corruption in India:
Anna Hazare: India’s pioneering social activist

As she notes: “The media attention has encouraged more middle class citizens to come out on the streets holding candles, carrying placards, shouting slogans, singing songs and even fasting in sympathy with Hazare. The numbers are modest but the buzz on social networking sites as well as media attention makes it appear larger.”

This is an extract from a half-hour documentary film that Pradip Saha made for the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) India in 2000, which looked at the nexus between corruption, environment and natural resource management in India. It ends with this segment on Anna mobilising the grassroots against this scourge.