Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign, which has captured the imagination of the nation like no other, has some high-profile faces lending it weight and substance. Here are the key faces:
Anna Hazare: Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare, 73, is popularly known as Anna Hazare. The iconic Gandhian is known for his contribution to the development of Ragelan Siddhi, a village in Parner taluka in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district. He was awarded a Padma Bhushan in 1992 for turning it into a model village. On April 5, 2011, the 72-year-old began a fast-unto-death to exert pressure on the government to enact a strong anti-corruption law that will see the appointment of independent ombudsmen at the centre and in the states to deal with cases of corruption. He broke the fast after 97 hours after the government constituted a joint panel of ministers and civil society representatives to draft the law.
Swami Agnivesh: Born as Shyam Vepa Rao on Sep 21, 1939 in Sakti in Chhattisgarh, the saffron-clad activist is best known for his work against bonded labour through the Bonded Labour Liberation Front that he founded in 1981. He is the founder of the World Council of Arya Samaj and is associated with the United Nations Trust Fund on contemporary forms of slavery. A former lecturer at St Xavier’s College, Kolkata, he joined the Hindu Reformist Movement in Haryana and became a legislator. He is an also a proponent of the inter-faith dialogue and is a member of the board of the Elijah Interfaith Institute. His entry into the corruption crusade has mobilized mass opinion.
Arvind Kejriwal: The 1958-born is a crusader for greater transparency in the government. The graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur is popularly known as the RTI or the Right to Information Man. He received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emerging Leadership in 2006 for empowering citizens to fight corruption by holding the government answerable to people. On February 2007, he was named the CNN-IBN Man of the Year. He is associated with a non-profit anti-corruption group, Parivartan.
Kiran Bedi: The 1949-born is India’s first supercop. She is known for her sweeping reforms in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail to rehabilitate inmates and integrate them to the mainstream. She became India’s first woman Indian Police Service (IPS) officer in 1972 and retired from service in 2007. A television presenter, Bedi is also the founder of Navjyoti, for welfare and preventive policing in 1987 and India Vision Foundation for prison reforms. Hazare’s crusade has inspired the former tough cop.