Inspiring Indians - Anna Hazare

Kisan Baburao Hazare, popularly known as Anna Hazare, is a social activist who is specially recognized for his contribution to the development of Ralegan Siddhi, a village in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.

Life in the Army 

His tryst with the army came when many Indian soldiers became martyrs in the Indo-China War of 1962 and the Government of India had appealed to young Indians to join the Army. His patriotism led him to promptly respond to the appeal and he joined the Indian Army in 1963.

In 1965, Pakistan attacked India and at that time, Hazare was posted at the border. On 12th November, 1965, Pakistan launched air attacks on Indian bases and all of Hazare's comrades became martyrs. It was a close shave for Hazare as one bullet had passed by his head. Hazare believes this was the turning point of his life as it meant he had a purpose to life. Hazare was greatly influenced by Swami Vivekananda's teachings. He also devoted a lot of time to reading books on the thoughts propagated by Acharya Vinobha Bhave and M. K. Gandhi. It was at that particular moment that Hazare took an oath to dedicate his life to the service of humanity, at the age of 26.

Ralegan Siddhi 


Hazare as a soldier


Ralegan Siddhi

While in the army, Hazare used to visit Ralegan Siddhi for two months every year and used to see the miserable condition of farmers due to water scarcity. The dilapidated condition of the temple in Ralegan Siddhi, from where wood had been used to fuel the liquor dens, symbolized to Anna Hazare the condition of the village. Since the temple represents the cultural heart of a community, Hazare felt that renovation of the temple would be the best way to demonstrate his unselfish motives and created an interest in his activities.

Since 1975, led by Anna Hazare, the village has carried out programs like tree-planting, terracing to reduce soil erosion and digging canals to retain rainwater. For energy, the village uses solar power, biogas (some generated from the communal toilet) and a windmill. The village's biggest accomplishment is in non-conventional energy and all the village streets are lit by solar lights. 

The World Bank Group has concluded that the village of Ralegan Siddi was transformed from a highly degraded village ecosystem in a semi-arid region of extreme poverty to one of the richest in the country. The Ralegan Siddi example has demonstrated that it is possible to rebuild natural capital in partnership with the local economy. It has become a model for the rest of the country and indeed the entire world. 

Anti-corruption crusader 

Anna Hazare has led a strong movement for an anti-corruption bill to be passed by parliament. He has demanded the formation of a joint committee of the representatives of the Government and civil society to draft a new bill with stronger penal actions and more independence to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas (anti-corruption ombudsmen in the states). 

Honours

The Government of India awarded him the Padma Shri in 1990 and the Padma Bhushan in 1992. 

Hazare is also a passionate advocate of the positive uses of the Right to Information (RTI) Act to being about greater transparency in administration of the country. 

As this inspiring Indian has said several times "The dream of India as a strong nation will not be realised without self-reliant, self-sufficient villages. This can be achieved only through social commitment and involvement of the common man." And all of us must do our bit.

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