Ending Crime

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Erasing Corruption

For the past few months, Anna Hazare, has been leading country's most prominent anti-corruption movement.

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Erasing Corruption
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Erasing Corruption

Last weekend, it reached a crescendo when Hazare began an indefinite fast.

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Erasing Corruption
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Erasing Corruption

Hazare was protesting the Indian government's decision to introduce a watered-down version of a bill in Parliament that would give an independent body, called the Lokpal, the power to investigate political corruption at the highest levels of government.

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Erasing Corruption
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Erasing Corruption

The Lokpal Bill would assign this power to a three-member group made up of current or former senior judges.

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Erasing Corruption
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Erasing Corruption

For several months, Hazare has led a committee of activists and intellectuals trying to stop the government from weakening the bill.

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Erasing Corruption
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Erasing Corruption

Team Anna, as it is popularly called, has proposed its own version of the bill that would give the Lokpal radical powers, extending to both the office of the prime minister and the judiciary.

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Erasing Corruption
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Erasing Corruption

On Aug. 16, the day after India's 64th anniversary of independence, Hazare addressed demonstrators in two locations in New Delhi: Tihar Jail, where he was detained by the government for three days, and the grounds of Ramlila Maidan, the scene of many memorable political demonstrations over the decades.The capital's citizens and visitors from far and wide many of whom had never attended a political protest before flocked to Ramlila Maidan to voice their agitation.

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Erasing Corruption
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Erasing Corruption

With the month of Ramzan (the Muslim fasting season known elsewhere as Ramadan) coming to an end and the Hindu festival of Janmashtami soon arriving, the demonstrators were at times united in both protest and prayer.

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Erasing Corruption
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Erasing Corruption

On Aug. 23, the Indian Express reported Hazare as saying:Now, 25 to 30 people are sitting on dharnas in front of MPs' residences. If the government does not pass the Bill by August 30, we have to intensify the protest. Protesters in thousands should gherao [surround] the residences of MPs then.

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Erasing Corruption
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Erasing Corruption

Arundhati Roy, perhaps India's best-known dissident and public intellectual, questioned the assumptions and omissions of the Hazare movement in a widely-read essay in The Hindu. Cutting and incendiary as always, Roy argued that political corruption was not a simple problem; it would require much more than a version of the Lokpal Bill to resolve it.

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Erasing Corruption
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Erasing Corruption

Whether it works or not depends on how we view corruption. Is corruption just a matter of legality, of financial irregularity and bribery, or is it the currency of a social transaction in an egregiously unequal society, in which power continues to be concentrated in the hands of a smaller and smaller minority?

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Erasing Corruption
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Erasing Corruption

On Aug. 23, the Prime Minister finally wrote to Hazare asking him to end his fast. He also appointed Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to mediate with the Hazare team and called for an all-party meeting to discuss the Lokpal bill.

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Erasing Corruption
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Erasing Corruption

One could optimistically argue that the long-term effects of this face-off are probably for the greater good. It has not only helped millions of people who ordinarily feel divorced from politics understand just how complex democratic law-making is, but it has also stoked their appetite for political debate and involvement.

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Erasing Corruption
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Erasing Corruption

Anna Hazare, India's anti-corruption activist, on hunger strike in front of a giant portrait of Mahatma Gandhi.

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Erasing Corruption
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