Monday, August 29, 2011

Some recent articles about Anna Hazare

Here are two articles from the "Sydney Morning Herald" & "The Telegraph" (UK) discussing recent events relating to Anna Hazare:

India hunger strike over as MPs yield on graft

Bibhudatta Pradhan
August 29, 2011

Anna Hazare waves as he accepts a letter on the agreement. Photo: AFP

ANNA Hazare, leader of an anti- corruption campaign in India, ended his hunger strike yesterday after MPs pledged a tougher law against graft.

Both houses of parliament had earlier passed a resolution agreeing ''in principle'' to the three conditions set by Mr Hazare, 74, who modelled his protest methods on those of Indian independence icon Mahatma Gandhi.

The move ends a political deadlock 12 days after the activist started his fast.
''It's only half a victory,'' Mr Hazare told supporters at the Ramlila fairground in the capital, Delhi, before saying he intended to end his fast yesterday. ''Total victory is yet to come.''

Supporters of Mr Hazare and cabinet members have sparred over a bill that activists say is crucial to deter corruption.

Civil society members, who said the government's version of the bill lacked teeth, wanted to push through their own, while the ruling Congress Party and others said parliamentary rules must be obeyed.

The public's confidence in the democratic process is ''rejuvenated'', said N. Bhaskara Rao, chairman of the Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies. ''Hopefully, we will see a stronger anti-corruption bill.''

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's administration, which is embroiled in corruption allegations, is under pressure to tackle the problem three years before he seeks the endorsement of voters for a third consecutive five-year term.

The sale of phone permits in 2008, which the nation's auditor says was at below market prices and ''arbitrary'', sparked protests nationwide and led to the imprisonment of a minister, a lawmaker and many company officials.

Mr Hazare had called on parliament to start discussions on establishing ombudsmen in all the states, to make anti-graft laws more wide-ranging, and to prepare a ''citizens' charter'' to oversee ministries.

The demands, termed ''sticky issues'' by Mr Hazare's supporters, had prevented a resolution to the impasse.

In Delhi, people cheered and shouted slogans when he announced an end to his fast that evoked nationwide support.

The biggest demonstration in the capital on August 21 drew as many as 50,000 people.
Reclining at the Ramlila fair ground on cushions beneath a giant portrait of Gandhi, Mr Hazare, who has lost almost 7.5 kilograms since beginning his fast, said public support had given him energy.

While draft proposals for a corruption ombudsman have been presented to parliament on eight separate occasions since 1968, they have never been approved. The Comptroller and Auditor-General said last year that opaque rules allowed the government to sell airwaves in an ''unfair and inequitable manner,'' potentially costing the exchequer as much as $A29 billion.

The government's version of the ombudsman bill excludes oversight of a serving prime minister, judges, most bureaucrats and the actions of lawmakers in parliament.

The activists want the country's highest executive, judiciary and all bureaucrats covered, with sweeping powers to probe and prosecute.


This article was found at:


Anna Hazare ends hunger strike as India concedes to his demands

The anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare ended his 12 day hunger strike on Sunday after the Indian prime minister accepted his demands for a powerful new watchdog to check graft.

Hazare supporters gather in their thousands to celebrate the end of his hunger strike, near the India Gate memorial in New Delhi Photo: AP

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi
10:21PM BST 28 Aug 2011

The veteran Gandhian activist announced his decision in tumultuous scenes at the Ramlila ground close to the walls of Old Delhi where thousands of supporters have gathered each day throughout his fast.

"This is your victory. This is the fruit of your work in the last 13 days … This movement has made it seem possible that we can build a corruption-free India," Mr Hazare told his supporters before being taken to hospital where his condition will monitored.

He launched his fast in protest at a government attempt to exempt the prime minister's office, MPs, and the judiciary from the scrutiny of the new ombudsman.
His India Against Corruption group has been transformed by his fast into a nationwide movement propelled by public anger at a number of bribery and malpractice scandals.

They include the inquiry into the allocation of mobile phone operator licences, the Adarsh housing scandal in Mumbai where apartments built for war heroes and widows were given instead to top generals, and the debacle over contracts for last year's Commonwealth Games.

India's former telecommunications minister, the daughter of the Congress Party's main coalition partner, and the Congress politician in charge of the Games are all now in jail. During his fast four MPs were charged with buying and selling votes to save the Congress government in a 2008 confidence vote.

Mr Hazare had been arrested and held in Delhi's Tihar Jail when he first tried to launch his protest earlier this month, but was released the following day after demonstrations throughout the country.

As his condition began to deteriorate last week – he had lost six kilograms and was suffering kidney problems – support grew throughout the country, and alarm spread throughout the government. Negotiations to end his hunger strike intensified on Thursday culminating in a parliamentary debate on Saturday.

Mr Hazare indicated he would end his hunger strike on Sunday after the parliament agreed to also bring the lower ranks of the bureaucracy under the new ombudsman, establish new watchdogs for every state government, and issue a new citizen's charter to set standards for public services. It is understood, the government has accepted the prime minister's office, MPs and judges will be monitored by the new watchdog, but no undertakings have been put in writing.

The fast officially ended on Sunday morning when two girls, one an 'untouchable' Dalit and the other a Muslim, brought him coconut water mixed with honey.

Mr Hazare conceded however that the government's concessions amounted to a "half-victory" and that the final shape of the Jan Lokpal bill which will create the new watchdog will be decided by the Indian parliament. His hunger strike, he said, had been suspended pending a 'full victory,' rather than abandoned.

The BJP opposition leader Sushma Swaraj said welcomed the concessions and the end of the hunger strike. "History has given us an opportunity, we should not miss it," she said.

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