He is in news, all channels filled with him. It made me investigate who he is?
So Who is Anna Hazare?
Indians should be proud of him. Known for his “Movement against Corruption”, he is a 74 years old social activist. If you look at his contributions to Indian society, especially local area, you will be astonished. Put it this way, I do not see a single such example in the whole Pakistan (nor UK) including Imran Khan & Abdul Sattar Edhi. Both are sincere but their philosophy is different from Anna’s. Before I explain this, let’s understand Anna first.
Born to a very poor family, Rao Anna’s childhood was suffering. He studied up to class 7 only, and then started manual labour to earn living. He joined Indian army and served in 1965 war. Anna was driving a truck. An air attack struck his truck, all of his fellows died. This was a close encounter for Anna, it led him to rethink the purpose of his life. On way home on holidays, he came across a small booklet titled “Call to the youth for nation Building” by Swami. This really enriched in his mind that “the real achievement for a human being is to serve the humanity”. After completing the minimum required service of 15 years Anna retired from army and started a revolution in his native village Ralegan Siddhi.
Ralegan Siddhi Revolution
Ralegan Siddhi village depended on rain water for irrigation. Sometimes they would get decent rain and hence good crops, and otherwise hunger struck. We need to sort this water issue to sort other poverty related problems, he thought and met an irrigation expert Rao Solanki. So jointly with Rao & villagers, they developed scientific methods to save each and every drop of rain using local resources. 300,000 trees planted, rooftops used to collect water, trenches built, low water crops cultivated, drip irrigation system adopted! A chain reaction started as a result. Water was saved, so irrigable land increased from 350 acres to 1500 acres. Crops increased many folds. Milk production increased from 300 litres to 4000 litres bringing collective annual income of 15 million rupees to the village. Villagers spared 10 million out of this income to build a school, hospital and a gymnasium. Villagers used to go to other places to work; the phenomenon reversed. Annual per person income increased from 225 Rupees to 2500 rupees. Ralegan Siddhi became “the Model Village of India”!
The Siddhi villagers formed many cooperative consumer, educational, women, youth and farming societies. Following Siddhi’s footsteps, 4 nearby villages became models and 85 are on their way. Four people completed PhD researched on Ralegan Siddhi village experiment. 1000s come to visit it, hence bringing more income.
Anna Hazare was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award in 1992 for his efforts in Siddhi. But the path to success was not easy. It never is.
Alcohol & Tobacco is Out:
Anna realized that no meaningful revolution can be brought before getting rid of alcoholism. He established a youth organisation, a meeting was conducted and alcohol was banned outright in the village. More than 30 local breweries were shut voluntarily, others were forced to. None dared to challenge this youth movement. Anna fought with state government to bring a law that if 25% women filed a written petition to ban the alcohol, government is obliged to conduct a secret ballot in this regard. After a long battle this law was passed, alcohol lost & left the town, probably to the west! Similar fate was waiting for tobacco. One day youth bought all the tobacco and burnt it in a holy ‘Holi’ fire. This was the last cigarette lit in this village, ever!
Anna started a cooperative Grain Bank. If you have spare wheat, don’t sell it cheap to greedy hoarders. Save it with Grain and take it when needed. Poor farmers can borrow wheat in need but they have to return it when they have spare. Hence no need to take loans on hefty interests.
- India is a village (73% Indians live in villages). Improve the village, India will improve automatically. Make villages self-sufficient and India will progress.
- Don’t depend on dam water, arrange for your own water and use intelligently.
- If you want to progress, don’t wait for government. This path is riddled with corruption. Develop your own resources and spend them on yourself.
Anna Goes National:
He didn’t stop in Siddhi, Anna took his campaign against corruption to national level in 1991. Starting at state level Anna campaigned against a huge corruption in Forestry department in Maharashter involving 42 officers and one federal minster. As usual state government ignored despite solid proofs. Anna started hunger strike. 1000s joined especially youth. Soon 6 state ministers and around 400 state officials lost their jobs. Not bad Rao Anna!
He stayed in jail for 3 months in 1995 due to protests against corruption in banks and cooperative societies. As a result of this movement, 1250 million Rupees of corruption recovered and 4000 million rupees identified!
In 1998 Anna asked Maharashter government to pass a “Right to Information Act” against any state department so that people could examine a department’s progress. Nothing happened for 6 years, he then started hunger strike along 1000s of youth in Bombay. On 12th day it became a law in Maharashter. 2 further years passed and it became a national law in India.
He is on streets again. Not 1000s but Millions of Indians are with him, fighting against corruptions, fighting for more accountability against politicians. All, sikhs, hindu’s and muslims seem to support him. He says:
“How can the government stop anyone from protesting? The land is not their ‘father’s property’. The citizens are the masters of this country and the ministers are their servants“.
The list of Anna’s achievements for ordinary Indians continue. Though his personal bank balance is only 68000 Rupees and about 5 acres land in his village. I have no doubt who will win, do you?
Salute to you Rao Anna Hazare, long live. Let’s compare Edhi & Anna. In short Edhi feeds poor, Anna on the other hand, makes them feed themselves; a visionary approach.
“Feed a poor & soon he will be Hungary again. Teach a poor how to earn, he will be fed forever.”
Anna vs. Imran Khan? I let you compare!