The film THE WHISTLEBLOWER be shown at the
It is a story which graphically depicts the violence surrounding human trafficking in conflict-addled
Unlikely Echo of Gandhi Inspires Indians to Act
By JIM YARDLEY
Yet Mr. Hazare, 74, has emerged as the unlikely face of an impassioned people’s movement in
His arrest on Tuesday, made while he was en route to a park in
The popular outpouring he has set off has inevitably drawn comparisons with the democratic uprisings of the Arab Spring. Most analysts agree, though, that
Running through each of these issues is a deepening public disillusionment with
“It is the middle class who is worst affected by corruption,” said Asha Bhardaaj, a woman who traveled more than 30 miles from the suburbs to join a rally. “The upper class is not affected. The upper classes can get what they need by paying money.”
Mr. Hazare’s appeal seems partly rooted in the traditional values he embodies. He is a longtime social activist who has campaigned against corruption for nearly two decades in the state of Maharashtra, living off a military pension and financing charitable work through donations. If his clothes evoke Mahatma
Yet Mr. Hazare and his advisers have also proved adept at the necessities of modern politics: they have adroitly outmaneuvered the police and government officials who sought to defuse the anticorruption movement, after the decision to arrest him backfired dramatically. They also have exploited the nonstop, often sensationalistic coverage on
Mr. Hazare and his advisers — a group of prominent lawyers and social activists nicknamed Team Anna — have spent months campaigning across the country. His aides distribute a flurry of daily e-mail updates to journalists, and his close advisers have used social media to connect with young followers. Early Thursday, one adviser, Kiran Bedi, used Twitter to announce a breakthrough in negotiations with the authorities.
Later on Thursday, Ms. Bedi released a video of Mr. Hazare made inside Tihar Jail, where he is being held. “I got my energy after seeing the young protesters,” he said. “Today is only the third day of protest. I can continue like this for another 10 or 12 days more.”
The governing Indian National Congress Party, by contrast, has seemed rattled, unprepared for the public anger against the government and incapable of delivering a consistent counterargument. One party spokesman personally attacked Mr. Hazare, describing him as a corrupted figure, while another spokesman blamed the
“This is a moral moment,” said Jayaprakash Narayan, a social activist in the city of
Mr. Hazare was born Kisan Baburao Hazare in 1937 in rural
He served 15 years in the military, qualifying for a pension, and retired to
By the 1990s, Mr. Hazare had begun staging hunger strikes in
His national profile has risen sharply since this spring, when he came to
For several weeks during the early summer, Mr. Hazare was a periodic visitor at a government guesthouse in
“I’m confident that people will stand up again,” he said. He had been traveling the country, appearing at rallies to gather support for a Lokpal. “Yes, I feel empowered,” he said in June. “It happens because a large number of people are standing with you. Otherwise, what do I have? I’m a beggar. I live in a temple. I do not have a bankbook. I have only a plant and a bed.”
His methods and goals have not impressed everyone. Critics accused him of trying to hijack the democratic process through protest pressure tactics. Others warned that the type of Lokpal he envisioned could upset the balance of the country’s democratic institutions and accused his group of refusing to compromise.
Ultimately, negotiations broke down in June on the Lokpal legislation. The government has since introduced a bill in Parliament during the current session, but Mr. Hazare has criticized it as too weak. This week, he came to
Under the compromise reached for his release, Mr. Hazare agreed to limit his hunger strike to 15 days, and the police said they would remove their original restrictions on the number of supporters allowed to attend the protest.
Outside Tihar Jail and elsewhere in the city, people have chanted Mr. Hazare’ s name and voiced anger over the pervasiveness of corruption in daily life. One college student complained that rich families are able to buy admission for their children to top colleges. A man who has a trucking business complained that he had to pay a 10 percent bribe to a petty official in order to get a certificate proving he paid a transport tax on his vehicle.
“Today, when we were coming, a traffic cop stopped our vehicle and suggested that we shell out some money,” said Ajab Singh Gujar, the owner of the trucking business. “I shouted, ‘Victory to Anna Hazare!’
“The cop immediately allowed us to pass through without any bribe.”
Hari Kumar and Nikhila Gill contributed reporting.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs