Independence Day special: Anna Hazare, the modern freedom fighter

Written by: Preeti Panwar
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As India is all set to celebrate its 67th Independence Day tomorrow, we take a look at the struggle made by the revolutionary Anna Hazare.

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India's 'second' struggle for independence:

Although, India became free from the shackles of British rule, but it still remains slave to various woes. During the freedom struggle of 1947, we had the real heroes like Mahatma Gandhi, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh among many others 'brave sons' of the motherland, but, in the 21st century, we have the humble and iconic Anna Hazare, who has the potential to make India free of corruption and to get the government kneel down to pass the very much needed Jan Lokpal Bill.

The septuagenarian anti-corruption crusader once said, "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 & involvement of the common man."

The anti-corruption crusader, Anna's India against corruption movement in 2011 brought the whole nation together in one spirit demanding to wipe out corruption cancer from the society. The epicentre of the peaceful movement was- Ramlila Ground in Delhi.

His "second struggle for independence" became a phenomena with his supporters wearing "I am Anna" caps (that almost became a fashion statement)and chanting "I am Anna" slogans and united the nation like never before.

Like the freedom fighters were arrested by the Britishers, Anna's campaign also led to his arrest by the Delhi police and he was kept in Tihar Jail for seven days. At the time of his arrest, thousands of his supporters waved Indian flags, to demand his release.

The jubilant crowd thronged outside the Tihar Jail, when the Gandhian Hazare walked out of Tihar Jail.

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Anna's humble beginning:

Starting his voyage from Maharashtra's Ralegan Siddhi, Anna became a 'reforming agent' as he upgraded his once poverty-stricken village to a model of rural development.

Having served as former truck driver in the Indian Army to becoming India's one of the most well-acclaimed social activists, Anna Hazare has immense contribution in awakening the present generation. How many of us were really aware about the Jan Lokpal Bill? Surely, not much...

Not many are aware of the fact that once, Anna even contemplated to commit suicide! But, Anna had a close shave with death twice. Once, when he became sole survivor of an attack on the Indian Army and second, during a road accident while he was driving for the Army. After escaping from death twice, Anna decided to dedicate his 'rebirth' in serving the people of the country.

Born on June 15, 1937 as Kisan Baburao Hazare, he led grassroots movements to promote rural development and to bring transparency in the functioning of the government through Right to Information(RTI), besides anti- corruption movement.

Studied up-to Class 7, due to financial problems, Anna even sold flowers to support his family.

The Gandhian was honoured with the prestigious Padma Bhushan- the third highest civilian award by the Government of India in 1992 for successfully implementing the rural development model in his village.

Anna's zeal for "do or die":

Whether from his indefinite hunger strikes or fast-unto-death strikes and from his spell-binding inspirational speech, Anna leaves no stone unturned to make his struggle turned into a fruitful movement for the betterment of the nation and knows very well how to untap the youth empowerment. And all through this, he maintains a stoic calm on his face.

Recently, during " Janatantra Yatra" (walk for democracy) Anna said, "Inflation is a result of corruption which has made life difficult... We aim at bringing in a Jan Lokpal Bill which ensures that even 60 to 65 paisa misused through corruption can be used for development."

He also said that he was hopeful that the patriotism and the yearning of change in the young Indians would usher in an era of honesty and good governance in the country.

Anna's red carpet welcome in the US

And now, Anna Hazare is invited by the US to lead the India's Independence Day Parade in New York and ring the bell at NASDAQ.

Besides this, during his two-week long stay in the US, Anna is scheduled to have dinner with the South Carolina Governor Indian American Nikki Haley.

He will also visit the United Nations Headquarters in New York, meet lawmakers at the Capitol Hill; besides interacting with students and academicians in San Francisco, Maryland, the university of Pennsylvania in Wharton and the Columbia University.

His visit is warmly-anticipated by the Indian Americans, who are preparing to welcome him on the red carpet and the American media too is excited for getting his interviews.

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