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Jun 15, 2017 07:10 PM IST | Source:

Happy Birthday Anna Hazare: From Kisan to Anna, the journey of a crusader

Many of his companions during the 2011 protests have parted their ways and India still has not got its Lokpal.

One of the most popular anti-corruption crusader of the 21st century, Kisan Baburao Hazare aka Anna Hazare today turned 79.

Hazare’s journey has been nothing short of an adventure. A 1965 war veteran, he sold flowers, drove trucks for the army, transformed a village, fought against the Central Government for implementation of 'Jan Lokpal Bill'.

Here is the journey of the Gandhian who never gave up:

Early life

1938 - Eldest among six siblings, he was born in a small village Bhingar, Maharashtra to Baburao Hazare and Laxmi Bai. Later, his parents moved to Ralegan Siddhi.

1947: When he was nine, A relative took him to Mumbai to study as Ralegan Siddhi had no primary school.

- Due to financial reasons, Hazare had to give up studies and sell flowers at Dadar Station in Mumbai.

Stint with the Indian Army

1963 - In spite of his small physique, he was inducted into the Indian Army.

1964-65: While undergoing rigorous training in the army, he once thought of committing suicide but later after reading Swami Vivekananda's book decided against it.

1965 - During the Indo-Pak war, he was stationed in Khem Karan sector and survived an enemy attack in which most of his comrades died.

This was the turning point of his life and he decided that he would devote his life to the betterment of the society.

Ralegan Siddhi

1975: After taking voluntary retirement from the army, he returned to Ralegan Siddhi.

He witnessed widespread poverty in the village due to water scarcity and rampant alcoholism.

- He came in contact with Vilasrao Salunkhe who was working on soil and water conservation. Hazare decided to introduce such a project in Ralegan Siddhi. Hence, the Watershed Project was born in the village. Now, instead of 300 acres of land, more than 2000 acres of land could be irrigated.

- He made the villagers take an oath that they would fight alcoholism. As a result, more than 35 liquor facility were shut in the village.

- He also set up a youth association which worked towards the abolition of alcohol and banned the sale of tobacco, cigarettes, and beedies.

- Hazare also established a grain bank, dairy, cooperative society and self-help groups for women.

Right to Information (RTI)

In 2003, Hazare went on a fast-unto-death in Mumbai's Azad Maidan for enforcement of the RTI Act in Maharashtra. Within 12 days, the Bill was passed and notified by the State Government. Later, this Bill became the draft for the RTI Act passed by the Government of India in 2005.

Fight for Lokpal Bill

Anna Hazare's long fight against corruption came into limelight in 2011. Under the banner of India Against Corruption, he sat on a fast at Delhi's Jantar Mantar for the passage of the Lokpal Bill in the Parliament. Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Kiran Bedi and many other prominent names were his partners in the movement.

He gave an ultimatum to the Central Government that if by August 2011 the Bill is not passed he will sit on a fast-unto-death.

The government ignored his warnings which eventually gave birth to a nationwide movement against corruption.

After a year-long protest, the Lokpal Bill was passed by the Indian Parliament.

The movement also gave birth to Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party which emerged out of the erstwhile 'India Against Corruption'.

Rift with Arvind Kejriwal

Anna Hazare expressed displeasure over Arvind Kejriwal joining politics who was seen as his closest aide during the Lokpal Bill protest.

Awards and recognitions

1990 - Hazare received the prestigious Padmashri Award from former president R. Venkatraman

1992 – He also received the prestigious Padmabhushan Award from former president R. Venkatraman for his social initiatives.

And his fight still continues

Continuing his fight for people, Hazare still participates in public protests, most recently being the sit-in protest in February 2015, against the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

His NGO BVJA is working for the decentralisation of power and laws related to the same.
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