He once contemplated suicide and even wrote a two-page essay on why he wanted to end his life. Anna Hazare was not driven to such a pass by circumstances. He wanted to live no more because he was frustrated with life and wanted an answer to the purpose of human existence.
The story goes that one day at the New Delhi Railway Station, he chanced upon a book on Swami Vivekananda. Drawn by Vivekananda's photograph, he is quoted as saying that he read the book and found his answer - that the motive of his life lay in service to his fellow humans.
Today, Anna Hazare is the face of India's fight against corruption. He has taken that fight to the corridors of power and challenged the government at the highest level. People, the common man and well-known personalities alike, are supporting him in the hundreds swelling to the thousands.
For Anna Hazare, it is another battle. And he has fought quite a few, Including some as a soldier for 15 years in 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.
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.
The villagers revere him. Thakaram Raut, a school teacher in Ralegaon Siddhi says, "Thanks to Anna's agitations, we got a school, we got electricity, we got development schemes for farmers.''
Anna Hazare's fight against corruption began here. He fought first against corruption that was blocking growth in rural India. His organization - the Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan (People's movement against Corruption). His tool of protest - hunger strikes. And his prime target - politicians.
Maharashtra stalwarts like Sharad Pawar and...
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