DefDog: A Gandhi Model Galvanizes India on Anti-Corruption

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A Gandhi Model Galvanizes India

Fasting, White-Clothed Hazare Was Tapped by Anticorruption Activists Looking for an Icon to Put Spirit Back in Fight

By AMOL SHARMA And KRISHNA POKHAREL

Wall Street Journal, 23 August 2011

NEW DELHI—Last fall, a group of leading anticorruption activists in India had reached a dead end. Their appeals to authorities to crack down on graft after a wave of high-profile scandals were going unheeded. They needed a figurehead to galvanize the masses and shame the government into action.

One of the activists traveled to a rural outpost in western India to enlist Kisan “Anna” Hazare, a military veteran best known for turning a village that was stricken by drought and hooked on alcohol into a model of economic development. In Mr. Hazare, the movement tapped a leader whose austere lifestyle and history of nonviolent protests, including fasts, recalled the spirit and tactics of modern India’s most iconic founding father, Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi.

In the ensuing months, Mr. Hazare has achieved much of what his backers hoped, harnessing Indians’ rage and disgust over corruption to create an unprecedented standoff between civil society and the government.

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(Also see these protest photos from Cryptome.org and 100+ other protests that went unheard)