His resolve has struck an extraordinary chord with the people of India, especially youth. The 74-year-old anti-corruption crusader, Anna Hazare, has now become a youth icon. Right from holding `I am Anna` placards to wearing T-shirts embossed with Anna`s image or name, youngsters have started admiring the Gandhian, who has waged a fight against corruption.
Youngsters in India, who were often thought to be uninterested in politics, have adopted a confrontational and aggressive stance towards the Indian government.
Anna has become synonymous with the fight against corruption. He has given a platform to thousands of Indians to vent their angst over rising prices and rampant corruption. The presence of huge young crowds outside Tihar Jail, India Gate or Parliament Street indicates how the ‘modern-day Mahatma’ has carved out space in the mind of the young brigade of India. Just like brand Che Guevara, India is in love with brand Anna now. Be it Gandhi topis, or the now called Anna topis or Anna wristbands and t-shirts; the Gandhian has captured the public imagination.
“It is great to see youngsters coming and supporting Shri Anna Hazare. Until now, I thought the youth of this country can just come to the streets to celebrate the victory of cricket team. It is an extraordinary feeling to see them on the streets for a cause,” said 75-year-old Dev Singh, who had come to India Gate to support the movement led by Anna.
Albeit, most of Anna supporters do not know the technicalities of Lokpal as well as Jan Lokpal Bill, they still support the anti-corruption icon because they have lost faith in the political parties and leaders of this country. Anna has come as a ray of hope for millions of Indians, who are gnashing their teeth at the scam-tainted government.
What endears Anna to the youth? “He is very straight forward and firm in his approach towards fighting against corruption. He is not affiliated with any political party. His communication is amazingly inspirational. He is not superficial, but simple and admirable. He is a real mass leader,” said 25-year-old Abhishek Krishnatre, who was at Mumbai`s Azad Maidan.
This movement in the world’s largest democracy has left political parties and leaders bemused and embarrassed. “No political party, not even a single elected leader is happy with this andolan because they feel that the mass has left them and they are no more important. We salute Anna’s activism,” said Rajat Sharma, who is the third-year student of Delhi University.
“I feel I am important and more powerful, thanks to Anna,” added Rajat, who does not mind bunking classes to support a “now-or-never” movement.
For 22-year-old Rashi Kumar, “Anna is now not a name. It is the energy against this government and corruption. We feel this energy inside us. We all are Anna.”
Social networking websites, blogs and Twitter are also abuzz with pro-Hazare cries and are entreating people to join the anti-corruption crusade.
The Anna phenomenon and this anti-corruption wave in a county like India, which is well-known for its chalta hai non-chalant attitude, are unprecedented.