Anna Hazare – the Army Driver becoming the Father of Nation Bigger than Bharat Ratna
Name - Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare known as Anna Hazare
Birth date - 15 January 1940
Anna Hazare was born in Bhingar village in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra state in western India to Baburao Hazare and Laxmi Bai, an unskilled labourer family He was raised by his childless aunt in Mumbai but could not continue beyond VII standard and had to quit midway due to problems. He has two sisters. He is unmarried.
1963 Anna Hazare started his career as a driver in the Indian Army. During his 15-year tenure as a soldier, he was posted to several states like Sikkim, Bhutan, Jammu-Kashmir, Assam, Mizoram, Leh and Ladakh and braved challenging weathers. Anna was greatly influenced by Swami Vivekananda’s teachings.
In the year 1965, Pakistan attacked India and at that time, Hazare was posted at the Khemkaran border. On November 12, 1965, Pakistan launched air attacks on Indian base and all of Hazare’s comrades became martyrs. In 1978, he took voluntary retirement from the 9th Maratha Battalion. After serving 15 Years in Army Anna took the voluntary retirement and returned to his native place in Ralegan Siddhi, in the Parner tehsil of Ahmednagar district.
Ralegan Siddhi falls in the drought-prone area with a mere 400 to 500 mm of annual rainfall. There were no weirs to retain rainwater. During the month of April and May, water tankers were the only means of drinking water. Almost 80 per cent of the villagers were dependent on other villages for food grains. Residents used to walk for more than four to six kilometers in search of work
Hazare came across the work of one Vilasrao Salunke, a resident of Saswad near Pune who had started a novel project of water management through watershed development in a joint venture with the Gram Panchyat. Hazare visited the project and decided to implement it in Ralegan Siddhi.
He steered the villagers to begin working towards water conservation. At the outset, they completed 48 Nala Bunding work, contour trenches, staggered trenches, gully plugs, meadows development and of forestation of 500 hectares of land. Thereafter, they constructed five RCC weirs and 16 Gabion Weirs.
This resulted in increase in the ground water level. Hazare’s Ralegan Siddhi became the first role model of an ideal village from the worst village to an ideal village. Anna rightly thought that Development is marred by corruption and started a new venture in 1991 called Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Aandolan (BVJA) or public movement against corruption. It was found that some 42 forest officers had duped the state government for crores of rupees through corruption in confederacy.
Hazare submitted the evidences to the government but the latter was reluctant to take action against all these officers as one of the ministers of the ruling party was involved in the scam. A distressed Hazare returned the Padmashree Award to the President of India and also returned the Vriksha Mitra Award given by then prime minister of India Rajiv Gandhi.
He further went on an indefinite hunger strike in Alandi on the same issue. Finally, the government woke up and took action against the criminal and corrupt officers as well as six of the ministers were forced to resign and more than 400 officers from different government offices were sent back to home.
In 1995 Shiv Sena-BJP government came to power in the state Hazare raised the issue of alleged massive land purchase by Gholap's wife Shashikala in Nashik between April to September 1996.
He forwarded the available documentary evidences in support of his allegations to then Maharashtra Governor P. C. Alexander On 4 November 1997, Gholap filed a defamation suit against Hazare for accusing him of corruption. On 9 September 1998, Anna Hazare was imprisoned in the Yerawada Jail after being sentenced to simple imprisonment for three months by the Mumbai Metropolitan Court all political parties, every one from Maharashtra except the BJP and the Shiv Sena came in support of him Later due to public protest, outcry the Government of Maharashtra ordered his release from the jail.
The state government has opened cooperative societies, credit societies & urban banks everywhere in states. However, the directors of such societies do the corruption and failed to pay back the basic amount to the members of the societies. Thus poor people get cheated when Anna saw this he again began his agitation against this.
Hazare agitated for over eight months. The result was that more than Rs 125 crore was recovered from defaulters and the members of such societies heaved a sigh of relief. Recovery of around Rs. 400 crores is in the pipeline.
After this Anna started to fight for the Right to information act. Government ignored Anna. In 1997 Anna agitated in Azad Maidan in Mumbai to create mass public awareness about RTI amongst the youth. Anna started to travel across state. Government promised Anna they will pass RTI act but in reality they never did it. For this Anna agitated ten times for this law.
When Anna saw that Government is not willing to pass this law Anna went on an indefinite hunger strike at Azad Maidan in the last week of July 2003. After 12 days of Hunger strike in Azad Maidan the President of India signed the draft of the Right to Information Act and ordered the state government to implement it with effect from 2002. The same draft was considered as the base document for the making of the National Right to Information Act-2005.
In 2003 Anna Hazare raised corruption charges against 4 ministers of the Congress-NCP government. Government ignored him. Then Anna started his fast unto death agitation on 9 August 2003. He ended his fast on 17 August 2003 after then chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde formed a one man commission, headed by the retired justice P. B. Sawant to probe his charges. The P. B. Sawant commission report was submitted on 23 February 2005, indicted Suresh Jain, Nawab Malik and Padmasinh Patil. Suresh Jain and Nawab Malik resigned from the cabinet in March 2005
Jan Lokpal Bill – Agitation and hunger strike at the age of 73 and great victory against powerful and rich government
India against corruption movement N. Santosh Hegde, a former justice of the Supreme Court of India and Lokayukta of Karnataka, Prashant Bhushan, a senior lawyer in the Supreme Court along with the members of the India against Corruption movement drafted an alternate bill, named as the Jan Lokpal Bill (People's Ombudsman Bill) with more stringent provisions and wider power to the Lokpal (Ombudsman)
Anna Hazare won the following awards – 1. Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra award by the Government of India on November 19, 1986 from the hands of Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi. 2. 1989 - Krishi Bhushana award by the Government of Maharashtra. 3. 1990 - Padmashri award, by the Government of India 4. 1992 - Padmabhushan award, by the Government of India 5. 2008 - On April 15 2008, Anna Hazare received the World Bank's 2008 Jit Gill Memorial Award for Outstanding Public Service 6. Care International of the USA, Transparency International, Seoul (South Korea) 7. He received awards worth Rs 25 lakh and donated the entire amount for the Swami Vivekananda Kritadnyata Nidhi (social gratitude fund). Out of the two lakh rupees received from the above amount, mass marriages are carried of at least 25-30 poor couples every year.
Anna Hazare has given his life for the benefit of India. He got the home in his village but he has not entered in that house from last 35 years.