Mountain View


Kisan Baburao Hazare (About this sound pronunciation ; born 15 June 1937), popularly known as Anna Hazare (About this sound pronunciation ), is an Indian social activist who led movements to promote rural development, increase government transparency, and investigate and punish corruption in public life. In addition to organising and encouraging grassroots movements, Hazare frequently conducted hunger strikes to further his causesa tactic reminiscent, to many, of the work of Mohandas K. Gandhi. Hazare also contributed to the development and structuring of Ralegan Siddhi, a village in Parner taluka of Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra, India. He was awarded the Padma Bhushanthe third-highest civilian awardby the Government of India in 1992 for his efforts in establishing this village as a model for others.

Hazare started a hunger strike on 5 April 2011 to exert pressure on the Indian government to enact a stringent anti-corruption law, The Lokpal Bill, 2011 as envisaged in the Jan Lokpal Bill, for the institution of an ombudsman with the power to deal with corruption in public places. The fast led to nationwide protests in support. The fast ended on 9 April 2011, a day after the government accepted Hazare’s demands. The government issued a gazette notification on the formation of a joint committee, consisting of government and civil society representatives, to draft the legislation.

Foreign Policy magazine named him among top 100 global thinkers in 2011. Also in 2011, Hazare was ranked as the most influential person in Mumbai by a national daily newspaper. He has faced criticism for his authoritarian views on justice, including death as punishment for corrupt public officials and his alleged support for forced vasectomies as a method of family planning.

Early life

Kisan Baburao Hazare was born on 15 June 1937 (some sources say 15 January 1940) in Bhingar, near Ahmednagar. He was the eldest son of Baburao Hazare and Laxmi Bai. He has two sisters and four brothers. He later adopted the name Anna, which in Marathi means “elder person” or “father”.

His father worked as an unskilled labourer in Ayurveda Ashram Pharmacy and struggled to support the family financially. In time, the family moved to their ancestral village of Ralegan Siddhi, where they owned a small amount of agricultural land. A relative took on the burden of providing Kisan with an education, taking him to Mumbai because the village had no primary school. The relative became unable financially to continue the support and Kisan’s schooling ended in the Standard Seventh grade; his siblings never attended school. He started selling flowers at the Dadar railway station in Mumbai and eventually managed to own two flower shops in the city. He also became involved in vigilantism, joining groups who acted to prevent landlords’ thugs from intimidating the poor out of their shelter.

Military service

Hazare was drafted in the Indian Army in April 1960, where he initially worked as an army truck driver and was later attested as a soldier. He undertook army training at Aurangabad.

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Hazare was posted at the border in the Khem Karan sector. He was the sole survivor of an enemy attackvariously claimed to have been a bomb, an aerial assault and an exchange of fire at the borderwhile he was driving a truck. The experiences of wartime, coupled with the poverty from which he had come, affected him. He considered suicide at one point but turned instead to pondering the meaning of life and death. He said of the truck attack, ” sent me thinking. I felt that God wanted me to stay alive for some reason. I was reborn in the battlefield of Khem Karan. And I decided to dedicate my new life to serving people.” At a book stand in New Delhi railway station, he came across Swami Vivekananda‘s booklet “Call to the youth for nation building” which inspired him to think deeper. He spent his spare time reading the works of Swami Vivekananda, Gandhi, and Vinoba Bhave. In a blog post, Hazare expressed his views on Kashmir by saying that it was his “active conviction that Kashmir is an integral part of India” and that if required once again for service, he would remain “ready to take part in war against Pakistan.”

During his fifteen-year career in the army (1960-75), Anna Hazare was posted at several locations, including Punjab (Indo Pak war 1965), Nagaland, Bombay (1971) and Jammu (1974)

During the Indo pak war, Hazare survived a road crash while driving for the army. He interpreted his survival as a further sign that his life was intended to be dedicated to service. He had another escape in Nagaland, where one night, underground Naga rebels attacked his post and killed all the inmates. He had a miraculous escape as he had gone out to return nature’s call and hence turned out to be the lone survivor.

Official records show that he was honourably discharged in 1975 after completing 12 years of service.

Transformation of Ralegan Siddhi

Hazare returned to Ralegan Siddhi, a village then described by Satpathy and Mehta as “one of the many villages of India plagued by acute poverty, deprivation, a fragile ecosystem, neglect and hopelessness.”

Although most of the villagers owned some land, cultivation was extremely difficult due to the rocky ground preventing retention of the monsoon rains, this situation was worsened by gradual environmental deterioration as trees were cut down, erosion spread and droughts were also experienced. The shortage of water also led to disease from unsanitary conditions and water reuse for multiple purposes. The economy of the village had become reliant on the illegal manufacture and sale of alcohol, a product on which many of the villagers had become dependent. Many inhabitants borrowed from moneylenders to survive, paying monthly interest rates of as much as 10%. Crime and violence (including domestic violence) had become commonplace, while education and employment opportunities were poor.

Hazare was relatively wealthy because of the gratuity from his army service. He set about using that money to restore a run-down, vandalised village temple as a focal point for the community. Some were able to respond with small financial donations but many other villagers, particularly among the elderly, donated their labour in a process that became known as shramdaan. Some youths also became involved in the work and these he organised into a Tarun Mandal (Youth Association). One of the works of Vivekananda which he had read was Call to the youth for nation building.

Prohibition of alcohol

Hazare and the youth group decided to take up the issue of alcoholism to drive a process of reform. At a meeting conducted in the temple, the villagers resolved to close down liquor dens and ban alcohol in the village. Since these resolutions were made in the temple, they became, in a sense, religious commitments. Over thirty liquor brewing units voluntarily closed their establishments. Those who did not succumb to social pressure were forced to close their businesses when the youth group smashed their premises. The owners could not complain as their businesses were illegal.

Once 3 drunken villagers were tied to pillars and then flogged, personally by Hazare with his army belt. He justified this punishment by stating that “rural India was a harsh society”, and that

Doesn’t a mother administer bitter medicines to a sick child when she knows that the medicine can cure her child? The child may not like the medicine, but the mother does it only because she cares for the child. The alcoholics were punished so that their families would not be destroyed.

Hazare appealed to the government of Maharashtra to pass a law whereby prohibition would come into force in a village if 25% of the women in the village demanded it. In 2009 the state government amended the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 to reflect this.

It was decided to ban the sale of tobacco, cigarettes, and beedies (an unfiltered cigarette where the tobacco is rolled in tendu also known as Diospyros melanoxylon leaves instead of paper) in the village. To implement this resolution, the youth group performed a unique “Holi” ceremony twenty two years ago. The festival of Holi is celebrated as a symbolic burning of evil. The youth group brought all the tobacco, cigarettes, and beedies from the shops in the village and burnt them in a Holi fire. Tobacco, cigarettes, or beedies are no longer sold.

Grain Bank

In 1980, Hazare started the Grain Bank at the temple, with the objective of providing food security to needy farmers during times of drought or crop failure. Rich farmers, or those with surplus grain production, could donate a quintal to the bank. In times of need, farmers could borrow the grain, but they had to return the amount of grain they borrowed, plus an additional quintal as an interest. This ensured that nobody in the village ever went hungry or had to borrow money to buy grain. This also prevented distress sales of grain at lower prices at harvest time.

Watershed development programme

Ralegan Siddhi is located in the foothills, so Hazare persuaded villagers to construct a watershed embankment and associated works to stop water and allow it to percolate and increase the ground water level and improve irrigation in the area. These efforts solved the problem of water scarcity in the village and made irrigation possible.

Cultivation of water-intensive crops like sugarcane was banned. Crops such as pulses, oilseeds, and certain cash crops with low water requirements replaced them. The farmers started growing high-yield varieties and changed cropping pattern. Hazare has helped farmers of more than 70 villages in drought-prone regions in the state of Maharashtra since 1975. When Hazare came to Ralegan Siddhi in 1975 only 70 acres (28 ha) of land was irrigated, Hazare converted it into about 2,500 acres (1,000 ha).


In 1932, Ralegan Siddhi got its first formal school, a single classroom primary school. In 1962, the villagers added more classrooms through community volunteer efforts. By 1971, out of an estimated population of 1,209, only 30.43% were literate (72 women and 290 men). Boys moved to the nearby towns of Shirur and Parner to pursue higher education, but girls were limited to primary education. Hazare, along with the youth of Ralegan Siddhi, worked to increase literacy rates and education levels. In 1976 they started a pre-school and a high school in 1979. The villagers formed a charitable trust, the Sant Yadavbaba Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, which was registered in 1979.

Removal of untouchability

The social barriers and discrimination that existed due to the caste system in India have been largely eliminated by Ralegan Siddhi villagers. It was Hazare’s moral leadership that motivated and inspired the villagers to shun untouchability and caste discrimination. Marriages of Dalits are held as part of community marriage program together with those of other castes. The Dalits have become integrated into the social and economic life of the village. The upper caste villagers built houses for the lower caste Dalits by shramdaan and helped to repay their loans.

Gram Sabha

The Gandhian philosophy on rural development considers the Gram Sabha as an important democratic institution for collective decision-making in the villages of India. Hazare campaigned between 1998 and 2006 for amending the Gram Sabha Act, so that villagers have a say in the village’s development. The state government initially refused, but eventually gave in to public pressure. It became mandatory to seek the sanction of the Gram Sabha (an assembly of all village adults, and not just the few elected representatives in the gram panchayat) for expenditures on development works in the village.


Anti-corruption protests in Maharashtra

In 1991 Hazare launched the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan (BVJA, People’s Movement against Corruption), a popular movement to fight against corruption in Ralegaon Siddhi. In the same year he protested against the collusion between 40 forest officials and timber merchants. This protest resulted in the transfer and suspension of these officials.

In May 1997 Hazare protested alleged malpractice in the purchase of powerlooms by the Vasantrao Naik Bhathya Vimukt Jhtra Governor P. C. Alexander. On 4 November 1997 Gholap filed a defamation suit against Hazare for accusing him of corruption. He was arrested in April 1998 and was released on a personal bond of ;US) (per litre of alcohol) to politicians or their sons who were engaged in making alcohol from foodgrains. Recipients included Amit and Dheeraj Deshmukh, sons of Union Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopinath Munde‘s daughter Pankaja Palwe and her husband Charudatta Palwe, sons-in-law of P.V. Narasimha Rao and Rajya Sabha MP Govindrao Adik. The government approved the licenses despite stiff opposition from the planning and finance departments, saying there was a huge demand in other countries for distilled spirits compared to that of molasses. Anna sued Maharashtra over the policy in the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court. On 20 August 2009 Maharashtra stopped the policy. However, distilleries sanctioned before that date and those who started production within two years of sanction were entitled for subsidies.

On 5 May 2011 court refused to hear the suit, saying, “not before me, this is a court of law, not a court of justice” as a reason for not hearing the plea. A Maharashtra Principal Secretary, C.S. Sangeet Rao, stated that no law existed to scrap these licences.

Lokpal Bill movement

Controversies and criticism

Alleged link with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

Hazare has been criticised for being an agent of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) a right-wing Hindu body. According to Digvijay Singh a senior leader of the Indian National Congress, the entire crusade of 2011 Indian anti-corruption movement was planned by RSS in which Plan-A was Baba Ramdev while Plan-B was Anna Hazare. Their basic job was to disturb national security. Further Singh had charged Hazare for having links with late RSS leader Nanaji Deshmukh with whom he worked as a secretary. *Hazare denied any such associations.

Acting as proxy for political parties

India’s OPEN Magazine editorialized that it was “Nonsense” to say Hazare’s anti-corruption movement of 2011-12 was apolitical. The op-ed went on to say that the purpose of the movement was that so long as the Congress Party was kept out of power corrupt politicians of any other party could be elected to Parliament. The example of Ajay Chautala (now convicted for corruption) was cited as “In effect, Anna and his team are campaigning for Ajay Chautala effectively the first candidate put up for election by the India Against Corruption movement“.

Views on Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar

In a press conference in April 2011, Hazare praised Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat and Nitish Kumar, chief minister of Bihar for their efforts on rural development, saying that other chief ministers should emulate them. Subsequently, Modi wrote an open letter to him, hailing him as a Gandhian anti-corruption activist while Digvijay Singh criticised him for his comment. In May 2011, during his visit to Gujarat, Hazare changed his view and criticised Modi for rampant corruption. He urged Modi to appoint a Lokayukta. He also commented that the media had projected an incorrect image of Vibrant Gujarat. Subsequently, Hazare declared that Modi is not a suitable candidate for the position of Prime Minister for not doing enough to curb corruption and his unwillingness to set up a Lokayukta in Gujarat. He has even questioned his secular credentials.

Accusations of corruption

The government of the state of Maharashtra instituted a Commission of Inquiry under Justice PB Sawant in September 2003 to enquire into allegations of corruption against several people, including four ministers in the state as well as the “Hind Swaraj Trust” headed by Hazare. The Commission submitted its report on 22 February 2005, indicting the Trust for corruptly spending Rs. 220,000 on Hazare’s birthday celebrations.

Two days ahead of Hazare’s Lokpal fast, the Indian National Congress, attacked him, alleging that “the moral core of Hazare has been ripped apart” by the Justice P B Sawant Commission.

Hazare’s lawyer Milind Pawar responded that the commission had remarked about “irregularities” in the accounts, but had not held him guilty of any “corrupt” practices. Pawar said that on 16 June 1998, a celebration was organised to congratulate Hazare on winning an award from a US-based NGO and it coincided with his 61st birthday. The trust spent Rs 218,000 for the function. Abhay Phirodia, a Pune-based industrialist, who took the initiative to organise this function donated an amount of Rs 248,950 to the trust by cheque soon afterwards. Hazare dared the government to file a First Information Report (FIR) against him to prove the charges.

Accusation of being anti-democratic and anti-Dalit

An article written in Kolkata Telegraph by Ramchandra Guha stated that environmental journalist Mukul Sharma claimed that Hazare forced the Dalit families in Ralegan Siddhi to adopt a vegetarian diet, and that those who violated the decree were tied to a post and flogged. Mukul Sharma also found that no panchayat elections have been held in the village for the past two decades, and that no campaigning was allowed during state and national elections, upon Hazare’s instructions.

Dalit columnist Chandrabhan Prasad opined that Hazare’s anti-corruption movement rejected representative democracy and alleged that it was an upper-caste uprising. He also claimed that centralising powers in Lokapal, which was a non-elected entity, was anti-democratic.

Dalit activist Kancha Ilaiah commented in a similar fashion, that “The Anna movement is an anti-social justice, manuvadi movement. The Dalits, tribals, OBCs and minorities have nothing to do with it. We oppose it.” Activist Anoop Kheri claimed that “The language, symbols used by the movement clearly reflects its upper caste Hindu nature, a very rightwing Hindu patriotism is being used to get the entire country against corruption. And as a dalit, I have a problem with it.”

There was also an allegation that an RTI activist was denied permission to protest by having a fast-unto-death at Ralegan Siddhi, the grama sabha stating that the reason was that only Hazare can hold such fasts in his village.

Activist Udit Raj was denied permission to protest against Hazare, whom he claimed was against parliamentary processes. Raj warned that succumbing to Hazare’s demands would set a dangerous trend rendering the “backward” classes more vulnerable. He claimed that mass mobilisations coerced the government into a “set of solutions” against constitutional processes could be used against affirmative action and threatened democracy.

Later, it came to light that poor dalits had been paid up to 200 each to shout slogans against Hazare, although the organizers denied it. Some protesters said that they had been told that it was a pro-Anna protest, but felt cheated after realising that it was against Hazare.

Accusation of being anti-Muslim

On 22 August 2011 writer-actor Arundhati Roy accused Hazare in a newspaper article of being nonsecular. She questioned his secular credentials, pointing out his “support for Raj Thackeray‘s Marathi Manoos xenophobia and the ‘development model’ of Gujarat’s CM who oversaw the 2002 pogrom against Muslims“. The website of the newspaper published many responses to her article and these were mostly critical of her views. Activist Medha Patkar criticised Roy, saying that her views were misplaced.

Hazare in the past stood in firm opposition to the Shiv Sena and BJP governments in Maharashtra. Activist and writer Asghar Ali Engineer in an EPW article on Communalism and Communal Violence reported,

The Shiv Sena is also facing serious problems from the social activist Anna Hazare who has accused its ministers of corruption and demanded their resignation. The SS-BJP government is facing serious corruption charges and is greatly worried. The Anna Hazare movement began in late November when he went on fast against the corrupt practices of the Shiv Sena ministers. The BJP initially supported the Hazare movement and now its deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde is also under a cloud. Initially the Hazare movement had created a rift between the Shiv Sena and the BJP but with Gopinath Munde himself under a cloud, both may close ranks. The Hazare movement has certainly posed a great challenge for the saffron government at the end of 1996.

Hazare was accused of working at the behest of RSS and BJP, and against Muslims by cleric Bukhari of the Jama Masjid. Bhukhari was subsequently criticised for being a Royal Imam and for claiming that his personal views represented the view of ordinary Muslims.

Conspiracy to murder Hazare

Hazare exposed corruption in cooperative sugar factories in Maharashtra, including one controlled by Dr.Padamsinh Bajirao Patil, a member of Parliament of 15th Lok Sabha and higher-ranking Leader of Nationalist Congress Party from Osmanabad. Patil was accused in the 2006 murder case of Congress leader Pawanraje Nimabalkar.

The conspiracy to kill Hazare was exposed when Parasmal Jain, an accused in the Nimbalkar murder case, in his written confession before a magistrate said that Patil had paid him ;August 2011, the verdict is pending.

As of December 2011, Hazare received Z+ security.

Honours, awards and international recognition”]

Year Award Awarding organisation
2013 Allard Prize for International Integrity University of British Columbia Faculty of Law
2011 NDTV Indian of the Year with Arvind Kejriwal NDTV
2008 Jit Gill Memorial Award World Bank
2005 Honorary Doctorate Gandhigram Rural University
2003 Integrity Award Transparency International
1999 Leading Social Contributor Award Government of India
1998 CARE International Award CARE (relief agency)
1997 Mahaveer Award
1996 Shiromani Award
1992 Padma Bhushan President of India
1990 Padma Shri President of India
1989 Krushi Bhushana Award Government of Maharashtra
1986 Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra Awards Government of India


  • The Marathi film Mala Anna Vhaychay (I want to become Anna) is based on Hazare’s work. The role of Hazare has been played by Arun Nalawade.
  • Anna – a 2016 Indian Hindi-language biographical film based on the life of Anna Hazare, directed & written by Shashank Udapurkar.

Personal life

Hazare is unmarried. He has lived in a small room attached to the Sant Yadavbaba temple in Ralegan Siddhi since 1975. On 16 April 2011, he declared his bank balance of ; Ganesh Pangare, Vasudha Lokur (1996). Adarsh Gaon Yojana: Government Participitation in a Peoples Program: Ideal Village Project of the Government of Maharashtra. Hind Swaraj Trust. p. 95. Retrieved ;rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Abook&rft.genre=book&rft.btitle=Adarsh+Gaon+Yojana%3A+Government+Participitation+in+a+Peoples+Program%3A+Ideal+Village+Project+of+the+Government+of+Maharashtra&rft.pages=95&” class=”Z3988″> 

  • Hazare, Anna. My Village – My Sacred Land. New Delhi: CAPART. 
  • Hazare, Anna (1997). Ralegaon Siddhi: A Veritable Transformation. Translated by B.S. Pendse. Ralegan Siddhi Pariwar Prakashan,. Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved ;rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Abook&rft.genre=book&rft.btitle=Ralegaon+Siddhi%3A+A+Veritable+Transformation&” class=”Z3988″> 
  • Hazare, Anna (2007). (in Marathi). Pune: Signet Publications.