On most days in India, the name that most people google for will probably be “Sachin Tendulkar”. Not so right now. A 74 year old social activist called Anna Hazare is probably the most famous man in India right now. He is mostly recognized for the Indian Movement against corruption, where he likes to use non violence to get rid of corruption. By doing it this way he very much follows in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi.
Mr. Hazare got very famous after he at the 5th of April this year started his fast unto death campaign. The reason behind this fast is a bill against corruption that is to be approved by the Indian Parliament. He claimed that he would fast all the way until this bill is actually approved. His demands have been rejected by no less than the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. At the 8th of April the government accepted the demands and said that it would pass the bill. Hazare then stopped his fast and claimed that the bill should be passed before the 15th of August.
The 15th was off course earlier this week, and as you might would guess, the bill is still not passed. There have been some controversies here, and, if I’m not totally wrong, there now exists two versions of this bill. One is the one that Mr. Hazare has demanded that should be approved by the government. The other one is one that is not as strict for the officials. Off course, the government likes the later one to be passed through rather than the one that is too strong for them.
So at the 16th of August, Hazare was arrested by the police. He has been in a prison called Tihar jail, where he should have been in judicial custody for 7 days. After only 24 hours, he was released by the police. But things are off course not that easy. Hazare refused to leave the prison until he was given permission to go on hunger strike again. So he has been in the prison until today, and has continued his fast there. Due to this, he has got enormous support all around the country, and there have been a lot of protest rallies and marches all over India. I must admit that so far, I have not seen too much of those rallies, but there are rumors that it might will be difficult to move around in a place like Mumbai today due to this.
The latest as of today is that Hazare have left the prison and is at the time when I write this on his way to a place called Ramila Maidan, where he plan to continue his strike. Thousands of supporters have shown up and joined him on his march. He also gave a small speech where he said that India got its freedom in 1947, but the freedom movement began long time back, meaning that the march to end corruption will be a long drawn one. He said “After 64 years of independence, we still haven’t achieved complete freedom”, and added “The fight is far from over, it has just begun”
In 2006 Muhammad Yunus got the Nobel Peace Prize as the “banker for the poor”. If Anna Hazare can be the one that really manages to get rid of the corruption in India, will he be a candidate for the prize in 2011?
I’m sure I will update you with more posts about Anna Hazare shortly.
Talk to you soon!