"A General is a trained commander who operates in a given enviornment, a revolutionary is a leader who creates his own enviornment." Raja G Mujtaba

By S. M. Hali

The killing fields of Karachi, the human slaughterhouses of KPK, unbridled corruption and above all, total lack of compassion for the meaningless carnage on the part of Pakistan’s ruling classes as well as intelligentsia demands that a messiah akin to India’s social activist Anna Hazare appears to save the Pakistani milieu from total disintegration. Anna Hazare, India’s renowned social worker and human rights activist is neither a politician, nor a millionaire turned philanthropist, who appeared on India’s bleak horizon to save humanity. Born on 15 June 1937 to an impoverished labour class family of the village of Parner Taluka of Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra, Kisan Baburao Hazare has done wonders for transforming rural India from poverty to self sufficiency and has picked up the cudgel to eradicate the evil of corruption from Indian society. How an ordinary son of an unskilled labourer get inspired enough to achieve such major accomplishments is a fascinating story by itself. Kisan and his six younger siblings faced significant hardships. Kisan studied till class seven with the support of a childless aunt but then started selling flowers to sustain his younger brothers.

The 1962 Sino-Indian war enabled Kisan to be selected to serve as driver in the Indian Army. During the 1965 Pak-India War, deployed at the Khemkaran sector, a Pakistani attack killed all his comrades in his convoy. His near brush with death convinced Kisan that he had been saved for a purpose, which he soon discovered through a booklet titled "Call to the youth for nation building" by Swami Vivekananda in a book stall at the New Delhi railway station. He realized that saints sacrificed their own happiness for that of others, and that he needed to work towards ameliorating the sufferings of the poor. He vowed not to marry to avoid being distracted by a family and set upon his noble task.

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After voluntary retirement from the army, he started his social work from his native village. Ralegan Siddhi, located in drought-prone, rain-shadow zone of Ahmadnagar, which had fallen into an acute state of poverty, deprivation and hopelessness and driven its residents to alcoholism and other moral depravities. Kisan studied the ecological process of water preservation and with the help of volunteers, managed to transform his village from total calamitous state into award winning prosperity by utilizing the will and resolve of the villagers themselves which made Ralegan Siddhi an oasis of man-made regeneration.

His next major challenge was tackling alcoholism. Appeals through volunteer groups, not only uprooted the menace of alcoholism but Kisan managed to have the state government modify Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 and also promulgated a ban on the sale of tobacco, paan and bidies in his locality. In 1980 he started the unique system of a Grain Bank, where farmers would donate grain, to be borrowed in period of need or drought. After the successful implementation of dairy projects, education systems and mass marriages for the poor, shunning untouchability, it was now time for him to take up the major challenge of corruption. He started with the corruption in the forest department and through his canvassing, managed to get influential ministers punished. He moved against corrupt leaders in every walk of life although he suffered immensely in his struggle; being incarcerated on trumped up charges, attempts on his life and threats to his being. 

His one modus operandi has been his fast unto death, which has borne positive results and enlarged his following. He achieved installing the Regulation of Transfers and Prevention of Delay in Discharge of Official Duties Act to the institution of the Right of Information Act. On 5 April 2011, Kisan, by now better known as “Anna”, started another fast unto death to exert pressure on the government of India to enact a strong anti-corruption act as envisaged in the Jan Lokpal Bill, a law to establish a Lokpal (ombudsman) with the power to deal with corruption in public offices. His demands were met through the issuance of a gazette notification of a joint committee to draft an effective Bill by 15 August 2011. When the government hedged and jailed him, he started another fast unto death and this time he is joined by most of India.    

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We in Pakistan are in greater despair than India owing to the apathy, callousness and selfish motives of our political leaders, who are letting Pakistan slide unto death for their personal motives. We pray that an Anna Hazare will rise from amongst us to slay our dragons.