Indefinite Hunger Strike- Will Government Open Their Eyes?
Anna Hazare, who had launched his anti-corruption movement from Delhi nearly seven years ago, has returned to the iconic Ramlila Maidan in the capital. After over half a decade, his demands haven't changed. He began his indefinite hunger strike against the central government for failing to set up the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states. He has also demanded the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report, which has suggested ways to address the agrarian distress.
This is the 19th time that Hazare is on a hunger strike nearly seven years after his India Against Corruption movement stirred the political establishment of the country. But this time he has a lot more demands to be addressed. Agrarian crisis being the major focus area this time, he demands:
1. Farmers must get production cost +50%
2. Farmers above the age of 60 must be given a pension of Rs. 5000
3. Constitutional status for agricultural pricing commission
4. Individual insurance for every farmer
The Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen's ombudsman Bill) is a draft anti-corruption bill drawn up by prominent civil society activists seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal, an independent body that would investigate corruption cases, complete the investigation within a year and envisages trial in the case getting over in the next one year.
The Lokayuktas is an anti-corruption ombudsman organization in the states. Once appointed, Lokayukta cannot be dismissed nor transferred by the government, and can only be removed by passing an impeachment motion by the state assembly.
Swaminathan Commission report: The National Commission on Farmers, chaired by Professor MS Swaminathan, submitted five reports through the period December 2004 - October 2006. Following from the first four, the final report focused on causes of farmer distresses and the rise in farmer suicides, and recommends addressing them through a holistic national policy for farmers. The findings and recommendations encompass issues of access to resources and social security entitlements.
Anna Hazare, who previously sat on a similar hunger strike for Lokpal in 2011, has a new target this time. Seven years ago he targeted the then UPA government at the Centre, and his anti-corruption movement captured the hearts of millions of Indians. His movement even gave rise to Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party, who cashed in on the mileage of Anna Hazare's campaign. This time Anna Hazare's target is the Narendra Modi-led BJP government, which has not been able to finalize a Lokpal to investigate cases of corruption.
The growing agrarian crisis, rise in farmer suicides, unsatisfactory minimum support prices, implementation of Prof MS Swaminathan-led panel’s recommendations and the recent protests from farmers across many states of the country being the triggering points for the strike, how far this will open the eyes of the government is a great matter of concern. Though we have witnessed massive protests of farmers across the country, the government seems to be unmoved.
By: Thamanna Abdul Latheef C