Born: 15 June 1937
Birthplace: Bhingar, Maharashtra, India
Best known as: The activist who led the Indian anti-corruption movement of the early 21st century
Name at birth: Kisan Baburao Hazare
Anna Hazare is the activist whose hunger strike in 2011 forced the Indian parliament to consider a serious anti-corruption bill after decades of delay. The moment capped Hazare's 33 years of work as a social, agricultural and political activist. Anna Hazare joined the Indian army in 1963 and served for 15 years, surviving a 1965 Pakistani attack on a border post which killed many of his comrades. He was influenced deeply by that event and by a book by 19th-century Hindu thinker Swami Vivekananda, which he discovered at a New Delhi railway station when he was 26. “The book revealed to him that the ultimate motive of human life should be service to humanity," according to his online biography. He left the army at age 38 and began working to improve conditions in the village of Ralegan Siddhi, inspired by the rural ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. Anna Hazare's successful efforts to end soil erosion and improve the local water table -- as well as improve schools and ban alcohol from the village -- brought prosperity to the region and raised Hazare's public profile. Feeling that government corruption was blocking rural development, Hazare became a public watchdog in the 1990s and 2000s, harassing government officials whom he suspected of bribe-taking or dishonest dealings. Along the way he was awarded the Padma Shri (1990) and Padma Bhushan (1992) awards, high civilian honors from the Indian government, for his social work. Hazare truly leapt onto the national stage in 2011, when he founded India Against Corrpution (IAC), "an expression of collective anger of people of India against corruption." He began leading a public hunger strike on 5 April 2011 in order to urge Indian legislators to pass an anti-corruption law (or "Lokpal bill"). That strike ended in triumph on April 9th after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised to bring a strong anti-corruption bill before parliament. Hazare continued to fast and agitate on the topic throughout 2011.
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