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After having gone through an endless series of his trysts with corruption, he once even thought of committing suicide. He even wrote a two page note describing his frustration and reasons for ending life. That man, today, stands as the face of billions of Indians who are exasperated because of the dirty scene of corruption in the country and desperately want to see some change. That man is none other than, Kisan Baburao Hazare, aka, Anna Hazare- a 74 year old ‘youth’ whose simplicity and undeterred confidence, has brought in a new revolution in the country.
Born on 15 June 1937, he joined the Indian army after heeding to the patriotic calls made by the then government, in 1962 and fought for the Indo-China war as a soldier. After serving for 15 years in the army, he took voluntary retirement in 1978 to return to his villiage Ralegaon Siddhi, a village in the Ahmadnagar district of Maharashtra. During his 15 years dedicated to the Indian military forces, there came a point in life, when he was so fed up of the miseries of life and the sufferings a common man had to go through; that he thought of ending his life.
With God’s grace, at the railway station of New Delhi, he came across a book by Swami Vivekananda that prompted Hazare to take a detour. Inspired by the teachings of the great pre-independence saint of India, Hazare learnt from the book, something that gave a new meaning and direction to his life. “Through that book, I learnt that the ultimate purpose of one’s life is to serve humanity and completely immerse oneself to this service,” recalls Hazare.
When he returned home to Ralegaon Sidhdhi, a village in Maharashtra's drought-prone Ahmadnagar, he was 39 years old. He was happy to return to his home land but immediately got distressed at the harrowing situation of his village. He found farmers struggling for survival due to lack of water resources. It was then that the ‘newspaper’ study and research of this 7th grade pass ex-army solider, came to his help, as he called for an engineer, Vilasrao Salunke, who was deft at undertaking rainwater conservation projects. This one initiative by Hazare, became the reason why his tiny little village shines on the international map today, as a ‘model of an ideal village’; why visitors allover from the world, throng at this place and why, so many students take up Ralegaon Siddhi as their research project and some have even completed their Ph. D. thesis on Ralegan Siddhi- a place that metamorphosed itself from the worst village to the ideal one!
The villagers revere him, for he not only steered the entire village populace to conserve each and every drop of water, but also, motivated them to work together as a united team, and took great steps to educate them. Thakaram Raut, a school teacher in Ralegaon Siddhi says, "Thanks to Anna's agitations, we got a school, we got electricity, we got development schemes for farmers.''
After serving his own village, Anna Hazare decided to do something constructive for the whole of rural India. Anna Hazare's fight against corruption began here. He formed an organization- the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan (People's movement against Corruption), and targeted politicians with a single and the most non-violent tool- ‘Anshan’ or the Hunger strike.
In 1995-96, he forced the Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra to drop two corrupt Cabinet Ministers. In 2003, he forced the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state government to set up an investigation against four ministers. In April 2011, four days of fasting brought thousands of people out in support of his crusade against corruption.
However, the victory of April was short-lived. The entire effort almost got wasted, according to Anna and his team, as the government and Anna’s civil drafted two different Lok Pal Bills.
And now, the battle is on. The government’s Lok Pal Bill includes only the top class-I govt. officers to come under the scanner, while Anna Hazare and his team want all, including the Prime minister under the provisions of Lok Pal Bill (also, known as Jan Lok Pal Bill).