Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Anna Hazare

" The dream of India as a strong nation will not be realised without self-reliant, self-sufficient villages, this can be achieved only through social commitment & involvement of the common man."

- Anna Hazare 

" It is not the water in the fields that brings true development, rather, it is water in the eyes, or compassion for fellow beings, that brings about real development. "
- Anna Hazare

Anna Hazare is one of India's well-acclaimed social activist and anarcho-pacifist who is especially recognised for his contribution to the development and structuring 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.

 Early life 

 Real Name               : Kisan Baburao Hazare
 Born on                    :15 June 1937 in Bhingar, a small village near the city of Hinganghat, in  Maharashtra.
 Hazare's father         : Baburao Hazare, worked as an unskilled labourer in Ayurveda Ashram Pharmacy.
 His grandfather        :  A brave person was in the army, posted at Bhingar .
 Native Village         : Ralegan Siddhi

His   grandfather died in 1945 but Hazare's father Baburao 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 young Kisan to Mumbai. Kisan studied up to the seventh standard in Mumbai 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.

 Military service

In 1962, events in South Asia meant that large-scale army recruitments were being undertaken. Despite not meeting the physical requirements, 25-year-old Hazare was selected, as emergency recruitment was taking place in the Indian Army. After training at Aurangabad in Maharashtra he started his career in the Indian Army as a driver in 1963.
During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Hazare was posted at the border in the Khem Karan sector. On 12 November 1965, Pakistan launched air attacks on Indian bases, and all of Hazare's comrades were killed; he was the only survivor of that convoy. It was a close save for Hazare as one bullet had passed by his head. He was driving a truck. This led him to dwell on the purpose and meaning of life and death.
 He came across a small booklet titled "Call to the youth for nation building" by Swami Vivekananda in a book stall at the New Delhi railway station. He realized that saints sacrificed their own happiness for that of others, and that he needed to work towards ameliorating the sufferings of the poor. He started to spend his spare time reading the works of Vivekananda, Gandhi, and Vinoba Bhave. During the mid-1970s, he again survived a road accident while driving. It was at that particular moment that Hazare took an oath to dedicate his life to the service of humanity, at the age of 38. In 1975, he left the army as soon as he become eligible for receiving pension.

Personal life

Anna Hazare is unmarried. He lives in a small room attached to the Sant Yadavbaba temple in Ralegan Siddhi since 1975. He never visited his home though it is in same village. On April 16, 2011, he declared his bank balance of 67,183 (US$1,500) and 1,500 (US$30) as money in hand. He owns 0.07 hectares of family land in Ralegan Siddhi which is being used by his brothers. Two other pieces of land donated to him by the Indian Army and by a villager have been donated by him for village use. He receives pension from the Indian army.

Transformation of Ralegan Siddhi    

After a voluntary retirement from the Indian army, Hazare went to his native village Ralegan Siddhi, a village located in the acute drought-prone and rain-shadow zone of Parner Tehsil of Ahmadnagar district, in central Maharashtra. It was one of the many villages of India plagued by acute poverty, deprivation, a fragile ecosystem, neglect and hopelessness. Hazare made remarkable economic, social and community regeneration in Ralegan Siddhi. He reinforced the normative principles of human development – equity, efficiency, sustainability and people's participation and made Ralegan Siddhi an oasis of human-made regeneration in a human-made desert without any inputs of industrialisation and technology-oriented agriculture.

 Uprooting alcoholism   

Anna Hazare recognised that without addressing the menace of alcoholism, no effective and sustainable reform was possible in the village. He organised the youth of the village into an organisation named the Tarun Mandal (Youth Association). Hazare and the youth group 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.

When some villagers were found to be drunk they were tied to poles/pillars of the temple and flogged, sometimes personally by Hazare. He justified this harsh punishment by stating in an interview to Reader's Digest in 1986 that “rural India was a harsh society”.

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.

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.

Grain Bank

In 1980, the Grain Bank was started by him at the temple, with the objective of providing food security to needful farmers during times of drought or crop failure. Rich farmers, or those with surplus grain production, could donate a quintal to the bank. In times of need, farmers could borrow the grain, but they had to return the same amount of grain they borrowed, plus an additional quintal as an interest.
 This ensured that nobody in the village ever went hungry or had to borrow money to buy grain. This also prevented distress sales of grain at lower prices at harvest time

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 in the village and made irrigation possible

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. Crossbreed cows are replacing local ones which gave a lower milk yield.


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.

  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 400,000 (US$8,920) 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.

 Removal of untouchability

It was Anna Hazare's moral leadership that motivated and inspired the people of Ralegan Siddhi to shun untouchability and discrimination against the Dalits. People of all castes come together to celebrate social events. Marriages of dalits are held as part of community marriage program together with those of other castes.

Collective marriages

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. 

  Gram Sabha

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.

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.

On 20 July 2006 the Union Cabinet amended the Right to Information Act 2005 to exclude the file noting 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

In 2011, Hazare initiated a Satyagraha movement for passing a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal (ombudsman) bill in the Indian Parliament as conceived in the Jan Lokpal Bill (People's Ombudsman Bill).

Hunger strike in DelhiHazare began his fast unto death on 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 stronger anti-corruption 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. 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.

Hazare decided that he would not allow any politician to sit with him in this movement

End of hunger strike after meeting demands

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.


On August 16 2011, Hazare was arrested four hours before the planned indefinite hunger strike. Rajan Bhagat, spokesman for Delhi Police, said police arrested Hazare under a legal provision that bans public gatherings and protests at the park in Delhi where he was planning to begin his hunger strike.

 Police took that action after Hazare refused to meet the conditions put forward by police for allowing the protest. The conditions included restricting the length of the fast to three days and the number of protesters at the site to 5,000. Later Anna was sent to Tihar Jail under judicial custody for 7 days. Large scale protests against his arrest is being shown by his supporters and common people throughout the country.

Year of Award     Name of Award                AwardingOrganization

2008                 Jit Gill Memorial Award                  World Bank

2005                 Honorary Doctorate                          Gandhigram Rural University

2003                 Integrity Award                                Transparency International

1998                 CARE International Award               CARE (relief agency)

1997                 Mahaveer Award 

1996                 Shiromani Award 

1992                 Padma Bhushan                                 President of India

1990                 Padma Shri                                        President of India

1989                 Krishi Bhushana Award                    Government of Maharashtra

1986                Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra Award      Government of India


.  Adarsh Gaon Yojana: government participitation in a peoples program : ideal village project of the Government of Maharashtra

  My Village – My Sacred Land

. Ralegaon Siddhi: a veritable transformation. Translated by B.S. Pendse.

. ANNA HAZARE: The Face of Indias Fight Against Corruption

"  Anna is a shining example of creativity and service by an ex-Serviceman. "
— Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa

Anna Hazare says,

* Over every huge tree that we see over ground, there always is a seed that had submerged itself into the darkness of the soil.
* Ban on consumption and sale of alcohol lays the foundation of rural development.
* It is impossible to change the village without transforming the individual. Similarly it is impossible to transform the country without changing its villages. 
* If villages are to develop, politics have to be kept out.
* Education without spirituality cannot help development.
* Money alone does not bring development, but it certainly corrupts.
* In the process of rural development, social and economic development should go hand in hand.
* The work of social transformation is neither easy nor impossible.
* The ultimate goal of all politics and social work should be the upliftment of society and of the nation.
* Books alone cannot prepare future citizens, it requires cultural inputs to do so.
* Educational institutions are not enough to make good citizens, every home should become an educational center.
* Indulgence causes disease whereas sacrifice leads to accomplishment.
* One should not accept anything free; accepting charity makes one lazy and dependent.
* When the person learns to see beyond his self-interest, he begins to get mental peace.
* One who performs all worldly functions and still remains detached from worldly things is a true saint.
* Salvation of the self is a part of salvation of the people.
* It is experience that gives the direction but it is youth that gives the drive to every plan. 


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