People of Northwest Public Radio
Tue December 27, 2011
India's Hazare Begins New Hunger Strike In Corruption Fight
India's anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, 74, has begun another three-day fast in Mumbai just as Parliament begins debate on a bill that would create an office with the authority to investigate corruption.
But, as The Christian Science Monitor reports, Hazare calls the bill "weak and useless." The Monitor adds:
"After a tumultuous year, wracked by corruption scandals and slow economic growth, the Congress Party-led government recalled parliament for three days this week, hoping to pass the bill before election campaigning starts in some parts of India early next year.
"However, the self-styled Gandhian activist, whose anticorruption campaign has rattled the government, is not likely to back down. 'The government is betraying the country,' Hazare told thousands of supporters in Mumbai. 'I will campaign against the government in all five poll-bound states. I'm not afraid of death. I will die for the cause of the nation.'"
If you remember, back in August we reported that Hazare was arrested for "planning a protest without a permit." The arrest elicited major protests in India and eventually the government freed Hazare and allowed him to stage a hunger strike.
The Times of India reports that the stakes of this hunger strike are high, as Hazare is ill with a 102-degree fever. Still, Hazare is vowing to continue his hunger strike.
The Guardian has a bit more background on the story:
"Corruption scandals have tainted [Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh's]second term, with a multibillion dollar telecoms scam landing a former minister and other senior officials in prison. The issue of graft has focused on a range of general grievances and mobilised broad dissatisfaction with a government that, after seven years in power, has failed to solve many of India's deep problems.
"Most of Hazare's supporters come from the newly-wealthy Indian middle classes. However, turnout at demonstrations in Mumbai and Delhi looked relatively low on Tuesday, prompting some commentators to speak of how the campaign had 'lost its connection with the public at large'.
"But others said Hazare had already achieved many of his aims.
"'He wanted to get corruption debated in every nook and corner of the country, and he has succeeded in that already,' Pankaj Vohra, the political editor of the Hindustan Times newspaper, said "