Anna Hazare is a name that most of the urban Indians can recognize with ease today. Yet ask them and most won’t be able to tell you his full name, nor tell you much about his past. But this unassuming Gandhian has made the Indian Government sit up and think about an extremely emotional and very delicate issue, which every Indian talks about, almost every day of his life. CORRUPTION!
Here’s my tribute to his honesty and his untiring effort towards eradication of corruption.
I have been receiving a lot of emails about using this portrait of Mr. Anna Hazare in the campaign against corruption. I must tell you that I have no objection to your using the drawing under the following conditions:
1. You don’t change the picture in any way. You can’t strip away the copyright information from the drawing if you want to use it online or otherwise. (Refer to Copyright/Permissions.)
2. You don’t use the picture of any “commercial purpose”. Which means you can print it on t-shirts that you’d sell to the protestors. You want to print it out and pin it to your own t-shirt, you’ll make me happy and proud to be an Indian.
3. You can use the picture as-is (without stripping away the copyright information on the three edges) on your blogs/web-sites – without seeking specific permission for doing so.
Why a Portrait and not a Caricature?
I do a lot of caricatures. Usually the personalities I caricature fall in the following categories:
- Globally Famous
- Globally Infamous
Once in a while I create a caricature of a not-so-famous celebrity, who made me respond at an emotional level – either through a character that he played or through his work otherwise.
But I don’t do a lot of portraits, despite starting my art-journey as a portrait artist. The reason had been rather simple. Portraits are made of a lot of serious thought – and I, as an artist had to feel something beyond awe, recognition, or a weak emotion; if I wanted to create a portrait.
I experienced that feeling, which I’d call respect, for Mahatma Gandhi – because he, a lone man, through his charisma had hard work managed to create a free India, not-with-standing the division, which was an extremely unfortunate fallout – and which primarily happened because people decided to move on the basis of religion.
And lately, I’ve been feeling a similar respect for Anna Hazare. I know that we might not eventually end up seeing a strong anti-corruption act, but I also realize that to take this fight against corruption out in the open; and to have no skeletons in his own cupboard that either the media or the governmental agencies could find, is a feat only a handful of people could perform. True that there are honest people, but they are busy trying to fight off hunger – others, are all engaged in some measure of corruption. It may not be completely out of choice, but ask an Indian (who lives in India – not someone who lives in another country but retains the Indian passport) whether he has never bribed anyone in his life, ever? I don’t think you’ll get a confident NEVER, as an answer.
And then there are those others.
We saw Ramdev’s copycat fast, and we saw how he changed his tone completely when his own accounts of Crores came under the scanner – we are actually used to seeing people change tracks oh-so-completely-and-smoothly…that when a man like Hazare comes on the scene, we can’t believe that he could be real.
Anna Hazare’s Biography – The Caricaturist’s Way.
There was once a young boy called Kisan, who lived in a tiny village called Bhinger, somewhere in Maharashtra. Kisan was among the seven children born to an unskilled laborer called Baburao Hazare and his wife. (Though Kisan’s mom had to go through the painful process of childbirth 7 times, her name escapes my research.) Kisan’s Grandfather was in the Army (in those days, Army equaled the British Indian Army) and he stayed with the family. When Kisan was 7, his Grandfather died. After a few years, his father decided to move to Ralegan Siddhi, a village that would later become prominent as a milestone in Hazare’s career.
When his father moved to this other village, his aunt (couldn’t find her name either) took him to Mumbai, looked after him, and sent him to school , but Kisan had to drop school because his half-a-dozen siblings needed financial support. He became a flower-vendor in Mumbai. As it always happens in India, when one in the village reaches the city, he first brings his family, then his extended family, and then his village to the city – so did Hazare, but he stopped after bringing only his two brothers and didn’t get his entire village over. Perhaps his stopping at bringing only two of his brothers and not the others to Mumbai has something to do with his enlisting in the Army. He enlisted in the Indian Army in 1962 and worked there as a driver, until he retired at the age of 38.
It was during the war, at the age of 26, that he had his first brush with death as he lost all his peers when the Pakistani Army blew up their convoy. It was then that he realized that his life was spared as he was destined for greater things. He continued working for the Army, but decided to stay clear of the burden of a family, and so he never married.
In 1972, when he returned to his village, he began working towards the economic and social progress of his village. The changes that he brought about in his village included tackling issues such as lack of education – especially for girls, farming issues, alcoholism, irrigation issues, and dowry, he also worked towards eradication of untouchability in the right way (and not by demanding reservation in Government Jobs and Educational Institutions.)
It was his work in his village that he was awarded Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.
Later, Hazare worked towards forcing the Maharashtra government a stronger RTI act, and also towards a more transparent transfer system in Government. (Anyone who watches enough Bollywood movies knows that honest officers, who don’t toe the line and get on the wrong side of the politicians, are often transferred to other “miserable” stations.)
Anna Hazare’s Future Plan of Action:
Though Government appears to have contained the Lokpal fever and administered prophylactic treatment, but a relapse is a distinct possibility. Though another Ramlila Ground stunt might be difficult to pull off, yet you can’t discount the fact that our politicians are some of the smartest and brightest people that India has produced. With corruption gone – many politicians would have lost their prime motivator to be in politics…and so, we can expect to see some sort of politico-legal magic…as we march towards August 15, 2011 our Independence Day, aptly chosen by Hazare and his team, to resume their fast and anti-corruption movement.