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Anna Hazare's Hunger Strike In India

With Jane Clayson in for Tom Ashbrook

Seventy-four-year-old Indian activist Anna Hazare’s hunger strike has mobilized masses in India against corruption. We’ll get the story.

India's anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare rests in front of a giant portrait of Mahatma Gandhi on the ninth  day of his hunger strike, in  New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011.  (AP)

India's anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare rests in front of a giant portrait of Mahatma Gandhi on the ninth day of his hunger strike, in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011. (AP)

It’s day 10 of Anna Hazare’s hunger strike in New Delhi. Hazare –- a 74-year-old follower of Mahatma Gandhi –- has galvanized a middle class fed up with pervasive corruption.

Thousands of people have peacefully taken to the streets, demanding more accountability from their government. They’ve embraced Hazare’s message of reform. His vision for a fully transparent government.

This hour On Point: the mass protests in the streets, and Anna Hazare’s vision for a cleaned up India.

-Jane Clayson


Anand Giridharadas, writes the “Currents” Column for the New York Times and is former Mumbai bureau chief for the paper.

Santosh Desai, author of Mother’s Pious Lady: Making Sense of Everyday India.

From The Reading List

The Guardian “But beneath the surface, there are potentially troubling sides to Hazare’s movement: a developing personality cult, an authoritarian tendency and the essentially urban, middle-class nature of the phenomenon. “Anna is India and India is Anna,” proclaimed one of his leading followers recently, a disturbing echo of Indira Gandhi’s dictatorial “emergency” during the mid 1970s, when a sycophantic politician came up with the slogan “Indira is India and India is Indira”.”

The New York Times “NEW DELHI — Aruna Roy’s two cellphones were ringing before breakfast on Tuesday as she braced for another day in the media storm of the Anna Hazare anticorruption movement. Ms. Roy, a pillar of India’s civil society who has fought for greater government accountability, has been appearing on television to talk about Mr. Hazare’s populist campaign, which includes his current hunger strike. She might seem a natural ally.”

The Hindu “If what we’re watching on TV is indeed a revolution, then it has to be one of the more embarrassing and unintelligible ones of recent times. For now, whatever questions you may have about the Jan Lokpal Bill, here are the answers you’re likely to get: tick the box — (a) Vande Mataram (b) Bharat Mata ki Jai (c) India is Anna, Anna is India (d) Jai Hind.”


Debate: India for Anna Hazare

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  • Hidan

    Anna Hazare is the man and proving himself to be a great man sometimes we get (not nealry as great) people like Attorney General Eric Schneiderman taking on the big banks on corruption but sadly the Obama adminstation decided to shut him down.pssss to close to election season.


    Than we had E. Warren, but atlas to close to the election season and was dumped, the list goes on.

    Welcome to the United Snakes,Land of the thief, home of the slave grand imperial guard where the dollar is sacred and power is God.

    • TFRX

      It’s nice to see you could squeeze in almost a dozen words about this hour’s topic.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps Rush could protest Obama this way instead of polluting the airwaves.  He could skip a few meals.

  • Gary

    Threatening self-harm to get his way?  This is what people with Borderline Personality Disorder do.  

    • Sam

      It takes incredible will power to abstain from food and water.
      My guess is that a person would pass out before he dies, then the medics can sweep in and take him to the hospital.

      The guy who set himself on fire started this latest Arab Uprising/Spring.

      It would be interesting to hear Tom discuss the history of hunger strikes. When it first happened, who came up with it, was it “successful”, any “successful” hunger strikes in history, i.e. did the person get his way, (without dying) etc.

      You can stop eating all you want – governments, sometimes even your own friends and family won’t care. It’s the fact that it is heavily covered by the media that matters.

      Something that occurred to me, wouldn’t this be considered extortion and somewhat like terrorism?

      I don’t know if this is what Gandhi was about. I get peaceful revolution, I don’t get hunger strikes and setting one on fire.

      A mention of Tienanmen Square and the man who stood in front of the tanks? To me, that’s the ultimate courage and bravery. Still in awe of that scene.


      • Gary

        “Something that occurred to me, wouldn’t this be considered extortion and somewhat like terrorism?”   He’s holding himself hostage so that his political vision can be realized.  Let him die.  Honestly, we should not tolerate this type of manipulation.

        • Sam

          Whose ‘we’? And if you choose not to tolerate it, don’t.
          No one is making you.

          • Gary

            that’s true.  Forgive me.  In the company of Progressives, I reflexively assume that someone IS attempting to make me do something against my will.  Point taken.

          • http://bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

            Yeah, yeah … lots of “progressives” running government, creating theocracy, limiting whom you can legally marry and what you can legally imbibe, and running around forcing you at gunpoint to do what they want.  That’s the real world, alright.

          • Gary

            Well, you’re describing Hamas, tacitly supported by Progressives, but never mind.

          • http://bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

            I don’t know any progressives who support Hamas, tacitly or otherwise.  We do think that a democratically elected group should not have been hypocritically left unrecognized.  Hamas is a regressive group chosen by a people who have been oppressed by other regressives.

          • Gary

            Well, elected does not mean “democratically elected”.  Look into that.  The last sentence, yes.

        • http://bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

          Regressives like yourself would find a single individual harming himself in order to shame a corrupt government to be a kind of “manipulation” which “we should not tolerate.” So does that mean that we should tolerate the kind of manipulation that a corrupt government can engage in against its citizens? What kind of courage to do you have? The moral high ground is always held by the underdog, not the privileged.

          • Gary

            “The moral high ground is always held by the underdog, not the privileged.”  Um, no.  Might does not make right, and strong does not make wrong.  It doesn’t matter.  Perhaps that’s your problem:  You don’t actually have morals, so you use ridiculous rules of thumb like that.

          • http://bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

            Okay. I accused (by way of a leading question) you of moral cowardice; that was wrong.  I apologize.

            I trust you will be man enough to apologize for saying outright that I “don’t actually have morals.”  If you really believe that of someone you don’t even know, or if you believe that of all progressives … well, if that is the case, then of course there won’t be an apology forthcoming.  Either way, my apology stands.

          • Gary

            It means the tactics of Borderline Personality Disorder should make us cringe.

          • Gary

            We should not tolerate the government in question, yes. 

          • http://bookofzo.blogspot.com Joshua Hendrickson

            Fine, so what do you suggest?

    • Anna supporter

      This is a wrong analysis. Anna Hazare chose this method, when every other methods he and others chose failed. The government is so corrupt and manipulative that it is not listening even to hunger strike and mass protests. It is rubbish to see this as a personal disorder, because it is not just one person, it is a massive protest. Moreover, the people associated with this movement are sane and sound and lead a normal life. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1439572620 Joe Lee

    The levels of corruption in India is mind boggling. 

    If you really want to recognize and honor Hazare’s efforts, please talk more about the cause he is fighting for instead of about him and his hunger strike.

  • joseph makela

    Commonwealth Games – “a lower Olympics…”
    what an ignorant comment from a so called NYT reporter
    some standards may be lower for participation but the great athletes compete in both events.
    from a Canadian listener –  a Commonwealther

  • Freeman

    Jane     ; Corruption indeed; My personal computer HERE in the United States has been compromised from my provider who has their call center in India. Talk about being violated. So much for this thing call “globalizaation”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10220231 Kye Printup

    Not pulling over on the road to let an ambulance pass……..not particular to India, sounds like D.C. to me.

  • Jaipatel79

    Please inform your audience as this is necessary for country to progress. Indian society is very corrupt in terms of bribery. Gandhi would be very disappointed. Hopefully some good law comes out and people lives may change. I am hoping and praying for this.

    • Sam

      Most corruption happens because people aren’t paid enough.
      At least that’s how it is in Russia.

  • joseph makela

    USA = shame based politics
    what happened to separation of church and state?
    due to the deresponsabilization of our governments, “the social contract”
    is broken and some of our co citizens take desperate means…

  • Jayanta

    The way the prime minister of India behaved by arresting Anna Hazare from his apartment makes the case for inclusion of prime minister of India within the reach of the Lokpal bill demanded by Anna Hazare and team. Indian politicians mostly do there ground work in criminal gangs before running as candidate for election and political parties admit these candidates to get to power quickly. Without a strong policy to punish any corruption including the prime minister. Basically, Indian prime minister is just a leader of bunch of retired or active gang leaders.

  • Katherine

    While I was living in India with my husband, any time we had some official work to get his papers including birth certificate, he always had me by his side to prevent the official from demanding any bribes. When they see the white foreigner, they have less chance to extort money. Our friend getting his passport had to go through so many procedures and if he did not pay bribe, the process took longer. People wanting any government job have to pay a bribe. It is endless. Price of land is unbelievably expensive due to black money.

    • Sonam

      That’s why Indian Government is not becoming richer but people who work for govt is.

  • Guest

    I was born and raised in an increasingly corrupt India. I agree with your guest Anand that corruption is not just a problem of the government. It runs deeper than that. Anna Hazare has taken up a great cause and may be able to make some change. But a greater change can be brought about educating the newer generation with the correct values, adding issues like corruption, lack of empathy for fellow citizens (that are not your immediate family) etc in school curriculum.

  • Hema D’Souza

    The ugly truth that corruption casts it evil shadow in every aspect of Indian life is undebatable.
    Whether its’ getting a driver’s license to a passport there is a background to why this happens as I think of it.
    My take is the subservient psyche has come as a fallout of the British domination and remants of the caste system. The rule of might has kept the populace silent against the atrocities of the corrupt.
    As the society moves from the survival mode to the thriving mode after 64 years of freedom and subsequently economic prosperity, flux of the western ideals of a true democracy & citizenship, India awakens with courage to bring in transparency and equality of rights.

    • Guest

      Corruption and cast? Well, have you heard of Lalloo, Mulayam, Mayawati, Karunanidhi, Jayalalitha, Karunakaran, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh…… the list goes on. But, is there a cast factor? Nope. All ofthe above ruled or rule India or stastes and have corruption charges against themor are about tobe charge sheeted or investigated. Talk about cast!!!! What is the cast of Sonia Gandhi?

  • Jayanta

    The main contention of the hunger strike is to include every one within the reach of investigation, including the prime minister. This is not undemocratic. If prime minister is practicing corruption then one should not have to wait until next election to get rid of him. The demand is to have an investigation not remove an elected leader. It appears that political parties in India run the government with a sense of impunity for five years and they do as much corruption as possible to last for another five years after they are removed from power in the next election. With this new Lokpal with provision for recall election will provide guard against this systematic corrution.

  • Jayanta

    The reason for terrorist attacks in India is easily correlated to corruption in India. If police and border security forces can easily be bribed as it is in India then any terrorist can slip inside and wreck havoc. No matter how strong anti terrorism laws are. The reason Indians cannot throw the bums out is because in current state the non corrupt candidates will be killed.

  • Mail_kkd

    If you purchase a house in india only 50% of the price is declared officially the other 50% is given under the table to avoid taxes. This is every house in India! On top of that there is an 6 to 8% of the price of the house that is given to the Clerk who registers your house.

    Corruption is not just at the top it is also at the grass root level. The clerk who is supposed to give you your University Degree Certificate, the guy who provides the basic amenities – electricity, water and telephone service, even when buying a house , Passport offices. I have done every of the above. A common man in India just cannot do his daily activities without bribe, which is very pathetic.

  • Jayanta

    India never had democracy. When congress party zonal committees  had selected Ballv Bhai Patel as prime minister Gandhi stepped in and over ruled in favor of Jawarlal Nehru. Indira Gandhi purged the congress party of any potential challengers or got them disappeared. Look at what happened to Kiran Bedi who dared to give parking ticket to the son of the prime minister and as a result her career was crumbled.

  • Jayanta

    The caste based exploitation is result of corruption. The corrupt politicians want the lower caste uneducated people to remain uneducated so that they can be used as votebank.

  • Dwoodman

    We need to think of corruption in India as an alternate tax. Most of the transactions in INdia are untaxed and uncollectable even if taxed. A person pays a bribe to become a cop or a politicaian andd just needs to recover their investment. Population density and poverty are the basis for this corruption.

  • Naradar

    In India corruption is all pervasive and accepted. It is petty and involves cops, taxi drivers and is an institution that facilitates commerce.

    In the West corruption is greed and benefits a few who are avarcious and greedy.

    Anna will pass and be fogotten soon.


  • Mohamed

    Mr. Anand’s slight at the India’s  neighbours is unwarranted. He should lighten up and not see things through eyes the upper caste Hindus. Indian neighbours are doing fine, thank you and would have been doing far better if people like Anand abandon their prejudicial and parochial world view.

  • Coconutgrove1

    I recently spent two weeks in India working on a documentary film. I was stopped over and over again by the police who threatened to take me and my crew to jail (for increasingly creative reasons…improperly tied tarps, too many people in the vehicle…etch. ) unless we paid baksheesh (bribes) The fines grew higher and more creative the closer we got to the airport. How are they going to stop corruption when the police are perpetrating it?

  • Murthy

    If this is a step that is a first step, finally, toward a greater goal, why not accept the Govt’s compromise to exclude the Prime Minister from the governance of this Ombudsman body?

  • Guest

    Thanks for doing show on this topic. It is obviously so difficult to digest for many in the 21st century in America and even in India. Corruption via bribe is human nature and present in all civilizations and all countries whether democratic, socialist, dictatorship or communist. The important to note here is not all societies are luck to have Gandhi-inspired leader to bring about change. It is also essential to note that the same people who have aged giving (and receiving) bribe are joining the movement because they do not want to see their next generation to live in the polluted and morally corrupt society.

  • Neilrdas

    Anna Hazare and his supporters are on the right track. 
    The bribe (Baksheesh, Expediting fee)system was completely eliminated by the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during her Emergency Rule in 1974-75. The bribe-takers are basically cowards and they are afraid of losing their jobs. The present Prime Minister Dr. Monmohan Singh has to pass a simple common sense law forbidding bribe/corruption immediately; the perpetrators would lose their jobs and would be prosecuted.Government employees may be corrupt, but they can not afford to lose their jobs. With the help of Mr. Hazare, Dr. Singh should take action to eliminate this scourge of shame from India.

  • Ravi Shankar Rahul

    this government is senseless,and public had got that sense.

  • Vivek Shukla

    I was disappointed to hear both invited guests not being On Point for this topic. Guests wasted airtime to bring caste and class in picture which is how the Govt. of India would also want to paint the activists, to gain political mileage out of the fight against corruption.

    If you visit protest sites in India, its the poor and middle-class thronging to fully support Anna Hazare and his team, sometimes traveling long distances and missing work to lose income and wages. The pain of corruption is bringing ALL people out on streets, which your invited guests missed.

    Yes, Anna’s team is well educated, upper class elite knowing shrewd politicians, their ways and also rule of law. But they are fighting for everyone. Read EVERYONE. Anna’s anti-corruption stage is giving opportunity to every Indian citizen to come out and have a say. Please join. In case you missed, there are thousands of postal mail letters sent to Anna from villages and small towns in Indian, with grievances against corruption. The stories speak off the poor, common man with meager resources paying for his means of survival? How could your guests overlook that?

    For the first time since independence from British, you are witnessing many, many self-less Indians coming together against a common cause, which may look strange to some, while the establishment in Delhi was caught off-guard and is bamboozled. All this is happening because of a man Anna Hazare, who hasn’t eaten for 11 days with a steely resolve to change Indian governing system. And NO, THIS IS NOT AGAINST DEMOCRACY.

    More than One-Third of the ruling party is corrupt. Close to half of the opposition is corrupt. Anna is also asking to have an option on the voting ballot list for not selecting any candidate in an election if the candidate is corrupt and not worthy.

    These are difficult times in India. Do you think the Indian parliament funded and/or full of corrupt, law breaking people, recommend a cause making way for those politicians downfall? It’s not easy, but some Indians have not given up on peaceful means to change India and Anna Hazare is their hope to get there.


    I urge you do another program on Anna Hazare, his fight against corruption and related to common people in India. Only, this time bring in invited guests aware of ground realities and common people of India.

    • Mill

      Why blame the guests for their incorrect perception of ground realities of India pertaining to caste and class when Indian Coconuts themselves never tire of mentioning caste (and always in a negative manner) in any column they write for NYT or any other US newspaper? Awards are given to authors and writers (like Arvind Adiga) who highlight caste, whereas others like Amitav Ghosh, who pen criticism of the west, are marginalized.

  • Firoz

    I agree with Vivek below. I felt nauseated when one of your guests, in his impeccable US accent denounced the demonstrators as the Indian equivalent of the Tea Party, or the ‘chai party’ as he called them. Total disdain for hundreds of thousands of people trying to improve governance. Also how disrespectful is this. As a long time admirer of Wisc Public Radio, I am disappointed by the ignorance of  your guest – I dont care that he writes for the NYT (which I immensely admire by the way). For 100s of thousands of people to demonstrate across the country with zero violence and come together for something positive needs to be appreciated and encouraged.

    • Mill

      Too bad it’s not a Muslim-majority country – then it’d have been a revolutionary Spring – or whatever season is in fashion – to be praised to high heavens.



  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Da-Da-G/100002327986351 Da Da G

    Dear ANNA
    sahab …CONGRATULATION…………….. U WON………………………V V V V V………..

    Thanks to
    my favorite REAL hero dear arabind kajarilal, BRAVE personnel madam kiran badi,
    sri bhusan sahab & specially to sri hagre sahab of k’taka.

    Thanks to
    all supporter’s for their peaceful demonstration.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Da-Da-G/100002327986351 Da Da G

    Dear ANNA
    sahab …CONGRATULATION…………….. U WON………………………V V V V V………..

    Thanks to
    my favorite REAL hero dear arabind kajarilal, BRAVE personnel madam kiran badi,
    sri bhusan sahab & specially to sri hagre sahab of k’taka.

    Thanks to
    all supporter’s for their peaceful demonstration.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Da-Da-G/100002327986351 Da Da G

    Dear ANNA
    sahab …CONGRATULATION…………….. U WON………………………V V V V V………..

    Thanks to
    my favorite REAL hero dear arabind kajarilal, BRAVE personnel madam kiran badi,
    sri bhusan sahab & specially to sri hagre sahab of k’taka.

    Thanks to
    all supporter’s for their peaceful demonstration.

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