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Posts Tagged ‘Anna Hazare’

Baba Ramdev dares Govt. to prove his black money estimates wrong

Posted by Admin on July 4, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/baba-ramdev-dares-govt-prove-black-money-estimates-061107840.html

By ANI | ANI – 14 hours ago

Jaipur, July 3 (ANI): Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev has dared the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre to prove his estimate of 400 trillion rupees’ worth of black money being stashed in safe havens abroad wrong.

Baba Ramdev said he was ready for punishment if proved wrong.

“It is said that the statistics given by me are false, and that I am lying and presenting the people with a false dream. I say that if I am lying and presenting false statistics, then I should be given the most stringent punishment. But if I am speaking the truth, then do not evade it,” he said.

Baba Ramdev further said that graft was destroying India’s democracy at its roots, and added that the present system needed to be replaced by a more just and equitable one.

“Approximately 400 trillion rupees that have been looted by corrupt people should come back to the country. Graft has eaten away the roots of our democracy and made them hollow. Democracy has become more about loot, graft and currency notes today. It must be saved. The current system must be replaced with one that provides economic and social justice to all,” he said.

Baba Ramdev, who sat on a daylong fast Delhi along with veteran social activist Anna Hazare at the Jantar Mantar in New earlier last month, had demanded that the government should follow the steps suggested by him in its endeavor to bring back black money stashed abroad.

Baba Ramdev, who has been at loggerheads with the government over a range of national issues for the past many months, had also called on the government last year to pursue billions of dollars in illegal funds abroad and the withdrawal of high denomination bank notes. (ANI)

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Indian activist to launch public fast as government relents

Posted by Admin on August 18, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/india-activist-allowed-fast-15-days-000649292.html

 By Paul de Bendern | Reuters – 18 mins ago

A supporter of Anna Hazare wearing a handcuff holds a portrait of Hazare as he attends a protest against corruption in Hyderabad

A supporter of veteran Indian social activist Anna Hazare wearing a handcuff holds a portrait of Hazare as he attends a protest against corruption in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad August 18, 2011. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India‘s beleaguered government caved in to popular fury over corruption on Wednesday after thousands protested across the country, granting permission for a self-styled Ghandian crusader to stage a 15-day hunger strike in public.

Anna Hazare was arrested on Tuesday, hours ahead of a planned fast to demand tougher laws against the graft that plagues Indian society from top to bottom.

But the jailing of the 74-year-old campaigner sparked nationwide protests and put Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s government on a backfoot, forcing it to relent.

“Anna wishes to congratulate everyone as we have started a great momentum for this fight against corruption,” said Arvind Kejriwal, a social activist and close aid of Hazare.

“He wants all of us to continue in this peaceful and calm way of protest,” Kejriwal told reporters.

The Congress party-led government, facing one of the most serious protest movements since the 1970s, at first agreed to release Hazare, but he refused to leave the high-security Tihar jail until he won the right to lead an anti-corruption protest.

Crowds by the jail erupted in joy at news of the deal, reached early on Thursday, shouting “I am Anna” and “We are with you,” singing, playing guitars and waving the Indian flag.

Hazare is expected to postpone his public fast until Friday because the Ramlila Maidan grounds in central Delhi are not ready to host massive crowds, his advisers told reporters.

A medical team is on standby to monitor Hazare’s health as he has already begun his fast in jail and a sharp deterioration could further worsen the crisis for the government.

“It’s an indefinite fast, not a fast-unto-death. He will be there as long as he can sustain it,” said Kiran Bedi, a former senior police officer and a member of Anna’s protest team. Earlier the hunger strike had been billed as a fast-until-death.

The protests across cities in India, helped spread by social networks, have not only rocked the ruling Congress party, they have sent shockwaves through the political class.

Students, lawyers, teachers, business executives, IT workers and civil servants have taken to the streets in New Delhi and both cities and remote villages stretching down to the southern end of the country.

“The movement has meant politicians realize that they cannot fudge these issues or ignore public opinion any longer,” said Vinod Mehta, editor of the weekly Outlook magazine.

“It has succeeded in concentrating the minds of politicians across the political spectrum on one issue for the first time.”

A weak political opposition means that the government should still survive the crisis, but it could further dim the prospect for economic reforms that have already been held back by policy paralysis and a raft of corruption scandals.

SOCIAL NETWORK REVOLUTION

One Facebook page for Hazare has almost 280,000 followers, while the India Against Corruption page on Facebook has more than 312,000 followers where links and messages of support are posted. Several Twitter accounts have been set up by supporters to send out messages of where and when protest and fast.

An online page petitioning for the freedom of Hazare and India of corruption had signed up almost 170,000 people within 24 hours.

The country’s 24-7 news networks, competing to dig up the latest corruption scandal, have also played a vital role in whipping up the Hazare story.

A NATION FED UP WITH CORRUPTION

Many have criticized Hazare for taking the government hostage over his demand for a specific bill to give more teeth to investigating and punishing graft in high office. But few take issue with his crusade against the scourge of corruption.

The urban middle class, who have prospered since the economy was opened up in the early 1990s, is fed up with the rampant corruption that they encounter, whether it be getting a driving license or buying a flat. The soaring cost of living has also exacerbated the situation.

Hazare’s arrest, followed by the brief arrests of about 2,600 followers in the capital alone on Tuesday, shocked a nation with strong memories of Gandhi’s independence battles against colonial rule with fasts and non-violent protests.

INDIA’S NEW GENERATION

Thousands of mostly young people held peaceful candle-light vigils through Wednesday night, from the capital Delhi to the IT hub of Hyderabad and the financial capital, Mumbai.

Many of the crowd were young, with rucksacks on their backs, some with their faces painted. Others were older, decked out in outfits as worn by the bespectacled Hazare, with his trademark white cap and kurta, a long-time social activist who is often compared to independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

Demonstrations are part of daily life in the towns and cities of India, a country of 1.2 billion people made up of a myriad of castes, religions and classes. But spontaneous and widespread protests are rare and the scale of this week’s outpouring of public fury has taken the government by surprise.

Singh, 78, who is widely criticized as out of touch, dismissed the fast by Hazare as “totally misconceived” and undermining the parliamentary democracy.

Hazare became the unlikely thorn in the side of the ruling coalition when he went on hunger strike in April. He called off that fast after the government promised to introduce a bill creating an anti-corruption ombudsman.

The so-called Lokpal legislation was presented in early August, but activists slammed the draft version as toothless because the prime minister and judges were exempt from probes.

Over the past year an increasing number of company executives, opposition politicians, judges and ministers have been brought down by corruption. Still, Transparency International rates India in 87 place on the most corruption countries according to a 2010 survey.

(Additional reporting by Annie Banerji, Arup Roychoudhury and Matthias Williams; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and John Chalmers)

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Indian anti-graft activist arrested as protests spread

Posted by Admin on August 16, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/veteran-indian-activist-detained-ahead-mass-fast-054711574.html

By Paul de Bendern and Alistair Scrutton | Reuters – 58 mins ago

Veteran Indian social activist Anna Hazare waves from a car after being detained by police in New Delhi

Veteran Indian social activist Anna Hazare waves from a car after being detained by police in New Delhi August 16, 2011. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Police arrested India‘s leading anti-corruption campaigner on Tuesday, just hours before he was due to begin a fast to the death, as the beleaguered government cracked down on a self-styled Gandhian activist agitating for a new “freedom” struggle.

At least 1,200 followers of the 74-year-old Anna Hazare were also detained, signaling a hardline stance from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against anti-government protests, a gamble that risks a wider backlash against the ruling Congress party.

Dressed in his trademark white shirt, white cap and spectacles in the style of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, Hazare was driven away in a car by plainclothes police, waving to hundreds of supporters outside his residence in New Delhi.

His followers later said he had begun his fast.

“The second freedom struggle has started … This is a fight for change,” Hazare said in a pre-recorded message broadcast on YouTube. “The protests should not stop. The time has come for no jail in the country to have a free space.”

In a country where the memory of Gandhi’s independence battles against colonial rule with fasts and non-violent protests is embedded in the national consciousness, the crackdown shocked many Indians.

It also comes as Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi is in the United States being treated for an undisclosed condition.

The question for many is whether Hazare and his movement will grow across the fast-urbanizing nation of 1.2 billion people whose middle class is fed up with constant bribes, poor services and unaccountable leaders.

In a worrying sign for a government facing crucial state elections next year, local media reported spontaneous protests against the crackdown across India. Dozens of Hazare supporters were also arrested in Mumbai, according to local media.

“If the government stops protests or not, what it can’t stop is the anger, which ultimately means bad news for Congress when people go to the polls,” said M.J. Akbar, an editor at news magazine India Today.

The country’s interior minister said Hazare and six other protest leaders had been placed under “preventative arrest” to ensure they did not carry out a threat to protest.

“Protest is welcome, but it must be carried out under reasonable conditions,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told a news conference.

“A MURDER OF DEMOCRACY”

Hazare has become a serious challenge to the authority of the government in its second term as it reels from a string of corruption scandals and a perception that it is out of touch with millions of Indians hit by near-double-digit inflation.

Both houses of parliament were adjourned for the day after the opposition protested at the arrests of Hazare and his key aides, further undermining the chances that reform bills — seen as crucial for Asia’s third-largest economy — will be passed.

Acting Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi called a top-level emergency meeting with senior cabinet ministers to discuss the escalating crisis.

“This is murder of democracy by the government within the House and outside the House,” said Arun Jaitley, a senior leader of the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The scandals, including a telecoms bribery scam that may have cost the government $39 billion, has smothered Singh’s reform agenda, dented investor confidence and distracted parliament just as the $1.6 trillion economy is being hit by inflation and higher interest rates.

Those arrested included Kiran Bedi, one of India’s first female police officers and a widely respected figure for her anti-graft drive. She tweeted from detention that she had refused an offer of bail.

Police denied Hazare permission on Monday to fast near a cricket stadium because he had refused to end his fast in three days and ensure no more than 5,000 people took part.

Opposition figures likened the crackdown to the 1975 “Emergency” when then-prime minister Indira Gandhi arrested thousands of opposition members to stay in power.

A HARDENING STANCE

Singh and his Congress party have hardened their stance against Hazare in recent days, fearing that these protests could spiral.

“When you have a crowd of 10,000 people, can anyone guarantee there will be no disruption? … The police is doing its duty. We should allow them to do it,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told CNN-IBN television.

The prime minister used his Independence Day speech on Monday to criticize Hazare, and Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said Hazare was surrounded by “armchair fascists, overground Maoists, closet anarchists.”

Hazare rose to fame for lifting his village in western state of Maharashtra out of grinding poverty. His social activism has forced out senior government officials and helped create the right to information act for citizens.

It is unclear whether the tactics will backfire and spark further protests. They could also help the image of a prime minister criticized as weak and indecisive. A previous crackdown this year on a fasting yoga guru successfully broke up his anti-corruption protests.

Hazare became the unlikely thorn in the side of the Congress-led coalition when he first went on a hunger strike in April to successfully win concessions from the government.

Tapping into a groundswell of discontent over corruption scandals in Singh’s government, Hazare lobbied for a parliamentary bill creating a special ombudsman to bring crooked politicians, bureaucrats and judges to book.

Hazare called off that fast after the government promised to introduce the bill into parliament. The legislation was presented in early August, but activists slammed the draft version as toothless, prompting Hazare to renew his campaign.

Under the current bill, the prime minister and judges would be exempt from probes.

(Additional reporting by Arup Roychoudhury, Matthias Williams and Annie Banerji; Editing by John Chalmers)

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War looms as UPA, Anna harden positions

Posted by Admin on June 9, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/blogs/boxpopuli/war-looms-upa-anna-harden-positions-073523746.html

By Ramakrishna S R | Box Populi – Wed, Jun 8, 2011

Everyone knows Anna Hazare has been demanding a stringent law against corruption, but his day-long fast at Raghat today is not for that cause. He is actually protesting the government’s violent midnight raid that scuttled Baba Ramdev‘s hunger strike last week-end.

The action at Delhi‘s Ramlila Grounds, where Ramdev was holding a fast against black money, has left 71 injured. With no place to go in the middle of the night, some found shelter in a gurudwara. The government’s high-handedness has triggered criticism from across the political spectrum. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has defended the swoop, saying it was unfortunate but unavoidable. The National Human Rights Commission isn’t impressed, and has called for reports from the central and Delhi governments.

Last night, Times Now showed a 51-year woman in hospital, paralysed after being thrashed at Ramdev’s pandal. Raj Bala is a citizen like any other, but concerned enough to take part in a movement against black money. She now lies in a hospital ICU on ventilator support. Doctors describe her condition as critical.

The government isn’t winning any hearts by terrorising peaceful demonstrators. Even the Supreme Court was shocked by the midnight raid. It has taken suo moto notice, and ordered the government to explain the forceful eviction. People across the country are asking the same question: Why did the police assault a group of women and children deep in slumber? The police, meanwhile, have seized CCTV footage of their action from Ramlila Grounds. Why, you ask? Ramdev believes they are trying to destroy evidence of their atrocities.

Two more developments add to the repression the UPA government is unleashing: (a) it is busy digging up dirt on Ramdev’s close aide Balakrishna; and (b) prominent Congress leaders are tarring Anna Hazare with the communalism brush, describing him as a mask of the RSS and Sangh Parivar. If Balakrishna were a Nepali citizen who possessed illegal arms, as the government is now letting it be known, why didn’t the police act all these years? And if Anna Hazare were a mask for hateful rightist groups, why are the government’s senior-most leaders sitting down with him and discussing a new law?

Given the predominance of the tri-colour at Anna Hazare’s meetings and saffron at Ramdev’s meetings, many had assumed they were aligned to the Congress and the BJP respectively, but the equations aren’t turning out that simple. Anna Hazare is a Gandhian and Ramdev a yoga guru and TV celebrity. Despite their dissimilar moorings, they feel they are fighting the same battle, and have affirmed faith in each other.

That makes life that much more difficult for the Congress. It will now have to take on the combined forces of Anna Hazare and Ramdev.  It looks like the Congress is already panicking. It has already let Digvijay Singh loose on Ramdev, letting him call the baba names, and tried to stop Anna Hazare from demonstrating today at Jantar Mantar. With a flip-flop Congress turning vengeful and going after anti-corruption activists, Anna Hazare and Ramdev are bound to close ranks and prepare for a bigger battle.

Ramdev is continuing his fast in Haridwar, and has asked his followers to stop their hunger strike for the time being. The Delhi police had transported him to the pilgrim town after evicting him from Ramlila Grounds. They have also barred him from entering Delhi for 15 days. All of which suggests the action will hot up in the last week of June, whe Ramdev resumes his campaign in the capital. The civil society group led by Anna Hazare is bound to come up with a more aggressive plan of action if the government continues to treat them shabbily.

Meanwhile, the US, which has spoken out against Tiananmen Square and Tahrir Square, clearly sees India as capable of handing its protests in a democratic manner. It has described the government action against Ramdev an internal Indian matter.

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India yoga guru launches anti-graft fast

Posted by Admin on June 5, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110604/wl_asia_afp/indiapoliticscorruptionprotestyogareligion;_ylt=AkKotfp75zUIdrHWCgIMcz5vaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTNoOTcyNnNyBGFzc2V0A2FmcC8yMDExMDYwNC9pbmRpYXBvbGl0aWNzY29ycnVwdGlvbnByb3Rlc3R5b2dhcmVsaWdpb24EcG9zAzIxBHNlYwN5bl9hcnRpY2xlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDaW5kaWF5b2dhZ3Vy

India yoga guru launches anti-graft fast
Baba Ramdev launched his indefinite fast against corruption and black money in Delhi on Saturday after the government failed to persuade him to call off his protest
by Penny MacRae 14 mins ago

NEW DELHI (AFP) – India‘s most celebrated yoga guru embarked on a “fast unto death” on Saturday to force the country’s scandal-tainted government to accept his maverick anti-corruption proposals.

Swami Baba Ramdev, who has wide support from right-wing Hindu groups, began his hunger strike after a pre-dawn yoga session with his followers in an anti-graft campaign that has piled fresh pressure on the embattled government.

“What will India get from this protest? India will be saved,” the saffron-clad swami declared to thousands of cheering supporters as he launched his fast in a tent the size of four football fields in the Indian capital.

The guru, who energetically performed his yoga poses on a giant stage to the delight of his audience, has called for repatriation of so-called “black money” — cash stashed in foreign accounts suspected of being used for bribes and illegal transactions — and the execution of corrupt government ministers.

“Nothing is impossible, everything is possible and we are not going to be defeated,” declared the middle-aged, pony-tailed guru as fans whirled to cool his supporters in the sweltering summer heat.

Followers fasted along with Ramdev — some lying down, others sitting cross-legged in the tent erected at a site where a Hindu festival marking the triumph of good over evil is celebrated every year.

“This anti-corruption fight is very important for the nation,” said one hunger striker who identified herself as Veena as followers chanted “Ramdev” and sang Hindu devotional hymns.

Ramdev’s supporters across the country joined in the fast while a 22-year-old follower in northern Muzzafapur town attempted to set himself on fire to support the guru but was stopped by police.

The Congress administration is worried the protest could mushroom into a populist campaign against the government amid outrage over a slew of corruption scandals, notably a $39 billion telecom scam that has seen a minister arrested.

The bearded guru, who claims he can “cure” homosexuality, cancer and AIDS through yoga and other alternative therapies, accused politicians of gaining vast sums “from the people’s hard-earned money”.

“All corrupt ministers should be given the death sentence,” said Ramdev, who has a huge TV following for his daily yoga show, .

The government issued a statement saying the maximum penalty for corrupt bureaucrats would be “substantially increased” and pledged speedy trials for people accused of corruption but stayed silent on the guru’s demand that they should hang.

“As far as issues we are concerned, the talks (with Ramdev’s representatives) are on (to end the protest). We want to solve the problem of corruption,” said Congress party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

But he accused Ramdev of allowing himself “to be remote controlled by political interests,” referring to hardline Hindu nationalists who were on stage with the swami. Ramdev has insisted his anti-graft movement is secular and also invited Muslim clerics to share his podium.

Commentators have questioned the government’s willingness to placate Ramdev, saying it highlighted the administration’s weakness.

“Why is the government so afraid of Ramdev?” asked the tabloid Mail Today in a front page headline, complaining “top ministers do headstands to talk Baba out of his fast plan”.

Others said Ramdev and another social activist, 73-year-old Anna Hazare, who fasted for 98 hours in April demanding a tough anti-corruption law, were holding India’s democracy to ransom with no mandate from the people.

“For the first time in India’s constitutional history, an elected government has been hijacked by intellectual charlatans… even some assorted nutcases and loonies,” wrote Shekhar Gupta, editor of the Indian Express.

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