'New Gandhi' to End Hunger Strike

India Claims First Real 'Social Networking Movement'

Anna Hazare, the self-styled Gandhian activist who has made history by fasting to lull his government into agreeing to strong anti-corruption measures, declared a major victory on Saturday as he announced to the nation he will end his nearly two-week hunger strike.

India’s parliament voted today to agree to Hazare's three demands – an effective Lokpal and state Lokayukta, inclusion of lower bureaucracy and a citizen's charter – in a resolution moved in the House, the Times of India reports.

This finally paved the way for Hazare to end his 12-day fast on Sunday at 10 a.m. He has already lost nearly eight pounds.

If he breaks his fast on Sunday at 10 a.m., he will complete 288 hours of his hunger strike which began on August 16.

"I congratulate every member of Parliament on what has happened today. It's a victory of people power,” Hazare said in front of thousands of supporters who broke out in celebration singing India's national anthem.

“This is just half the victory for us and this victory is for you, the people. I thank the media also for this victory. I'll break my fast at 10 a.m. tomorrow.”

During the last ten days, India has been packed with confusion, political twists and turns, and tension as the opposition debated the government over the final wordings of the resolution and whether it would be voted on or not.

Hazare's determination to tackle a corrupt government process has caught national attention.

It came at a time when a section of Indian society is disillusioned with the slow pace of democratic development. Other nations, including the United States, are pointing out that Indians, at least, are empowered to change their government.

The 74-year-old activist was able to tap into the emotions of an angry public that was anxious to end endemic corruption. Hazare has shown the world he has the ability to unite the country's bulging middle-class against an ill-fated political class.

Very few social activists have captured the attention of Indians across the globe as Hazare has during his "fast unto death" over this issue of the Jan Lokpal Bill.

According to Indian law, the Jan Lokpal Bill (or Citizen's ombudsman Bill) is a draft anti-corruption bill drawn up by prominent civil society activists seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, which is an independent body that would investigate corruption cases.

It also allows power to the Jan Lokpal to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without government permission.

Hazare's campaign, which has been peaceful, pushed for the anti-corruption watchdog and eventually crippled the Congress-led government.

He has inspired millions to protest against widespread fraud and bribery. His hunger strike came at a time of civil unrest occurring in much of the Middle East.

People, the common man and well-known personalities alike, are supporting him in the hundreds swelling to the thousands.

It was time for something to happen as political tension had been building between Hazare's "Team Anna" and the actual length of the hunger strike. Political leaders were pleading with Hazare to end his fast due to possible health concerns and potential death.

Talks stalled between the Indian government and supporters of Hazare as the strike entered its tenth day Thursday. Hazare urged supporters to shun violence in their quest.

In his communication to Hazare, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conveyed to him that Parliament had passed a resolution on the three issues raised by him and appealed to him to call off his fast.

“Parliament has spoken. The will of Parliament is the will of the people," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today.

"I'm happy today's debate resolved the impasse which was created by fasting of Shri Anna Hazare. The House debated and discussed the issues on all expects. In both the Houses there was consensus when I read out the sense of the House and it was approved by the thumping of the desks by all sections of the House," said Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Hazare, now being called the “new Gandhi,” is a personality who has the ability to put some bars on growing poltical corruption in India.

He fought as a soldier for 15 years in the Indian Army. He enlisted after the 1962 Indo-China war when the government exhorted young men to join the Army.

In 1978, he took voluntary retirement from the 9th Maratha Battalion and returned home to Ralegaon Siddhi, a village in Maharashtra's drought-prone Ahmadnagar. He was 39-years-old, his biography reads.

He found farmers back home struggling for survival and their suffering would prompt him to pioneer rainwater conservation that "put his little hamlet on the international map as a model village."

He fought first against corruption that was blocking growth in rural India. His organization, called the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan (or People's movement against Corruption), his tools for a peaceful protest, his cotton hat and white flowing garment reminds the Indian people of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the peaceful activist who led the nonviolent resistance movement against British colonial rule in India during the first half of the 20th century.

The Gandhian will no doubt continue to soldier on, this bringing the national spotlight to India and the battle of the average citizen pulling together to fight a united cause against corrupted souls and evil government processes.

Political experts say the "Anna Hazare fast" can be described as the first real "social networking movement" in India.

"The dream of India as a strong nation will not be realized without self reliant villages,” Hazare said. “This can be achieved only through social commitment and involvement of the common man.”

The Details of Resolution in India Reached Today:

This House agrees in principle on following issues for an effective and strong Lokpal: 1) Citizen's charter 2) Lower bureaucracy under Lokpal through appropriate mechanism 3) Establishment of Lokayukta in states 4) Further resolve to forward the proceedings of the House to the Standing Committee for its perusal while formulating its recommendations for a Lokpal Bill. (Source: The Times of India).

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