Anna Hazare ends anti-corruption hunger strike

Updated On: Aug 29, 2011

Indian anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare has ended a 12 day hunger strike, as the Indian parliament agreed to pass an unprecedented resolution in support of his demands.

The 74 year old campaigner, who has galvanised the Indian populace since beginning his strike, warned, "As long as our demands are not met, the fight continues."

The last few days have seen Indians unite in ways that have never been seen. For a nation beset for corruption, Sunday was a historic day.

However, government officials have expressed doubt over whether a single bill will end corruption. In a rare speech, governing congress party leader Rahul Gandhi thanked Hazare for helping the people of India articulate their sentiment, but cautioned, "there are no simple solutions to eradicating corruption. But I have serious doubts that a single bill will end corruption. What we require is a set of effective laws."

Mr Hazare had called for a citizen's ombudsman bill, previously drafted by NGOs and anti-corruption campaigners, to include the power to investigate the Prime Minister and senior judges for corruption. After initially refusing, the government appeared to agree to the demand that the prime minister would be brought under the ombudsman's jurisdiction.

Report: Anna Hazare: India campaigner ends hunger strike (BBC News, 28 August 2011)

As tens of thousands of supporters took to the streets to celebrate what is being regarded as "a people's victory," Hazare stressed, "I haven't given up the fast, I have only suspended it. My fast will really end when all our demands are met, when parliament passes the bill [to establish a nationwide ombudsman system] and there is genuine reform in the country."

As crowds flocked to witness Hazare's address, the 74-year-old said his next target was electoral reforms.

As a pointed statement against allegations that Hazare was anti-dalit and anti-minorities, his team chose two girls - Simran and Ikrah - one from a dalit family and the other a Muslim,to help him break his fast.

Report: Anna breaks fast, vows to continue fight  (Times of India, 29 August 2011)

Though large demonstrations are common in India, but they are usually organised by established political parties or trade unions with many participants offered money or free food to attend.

In contrast, the Hazare protests in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and elsewhere have been a rare blend of the young middle-class, rural workers and city labourers.

Report: High hopes amid the litter as Indian fast ends  (AFP, 28 August 2011)

Though many agree that much discussion lies ahead in parliament before the bill is passed, given the mass of support Hazare has managed to gather, there is confidence that he has forced Singh's government to work towards devising an effective anti-corruption law.

The government "agreed in principle" to three of Hazare's key demands:

1) that anti-corruption ombudsmen should be appointed in all regional states, not just at the centre; 2) that the entire bureaucracy should be covered by the new anti-corruption law, and not just senior officials; 
3) that there should be a citizens' charter, or independent mechanism for redressing public grievances against the administration.

Dipankar Gupta, a sociologist, was optimistic abot the outlook of the bill. "Until today, Indians believed that corruption cannot be eradicated, that it's a fact of nature, that it has entered our DNA."  "But a beginning has been made. This will lessen corruption to a huge extent."

Report:  Anna Hazare ends hunger strike after Indian government backs down (The Guardian, 28 August 2011)

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