In current period, one of most popular name of India is Baburao Hazare. He is popularly known as Anna Hazare, an Indian social activist who is especially recognized for the Indian Movement against corruption, using nonviolent methods following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.
We have identified the key leadership characteristic of Anna Hazare which can be example of effective leadership characteristic to be a leader, even for an organization.
In 1962, despite not meeting the physical requirements, 25-year-old Hazare was selected, as emergency recruited Indian Army. During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Hazare was posted at the Indo-Pak border. On 12 November 1965, he was the only survivor of a convoy when Pakistan launched air attacks on Indian bases. This led him to dwell on the purpose and meaning of life and death. By reading a book of Swami Vivekananda titled "Call to the youth for nation building", he committed to work towards ameliorating the sufferings of the poor. He started to spend his spare time reading the works of Vivekananda, Gandhi, and Vinoba Bhave and took an oath to dedicate his life to the service of humanity, at the age of 38. He took voluntary retirement from the army in 1978.
Initiated in Small Level (Change for a small village):
In 1978 Hazare went to his native village Ralegan Siddhi which was one of the many villages of India plagued by acute poverty, deprivation, a fragile ecosystem, negligence, and hopelessness. He reinforced the normative principles of human development – equity, efficiency, sustainability and made remarkable economic, social and community regeneration in the village without any inputs of industrialization and technology-oriented agriculture.
Haraze identified the key problem among villagers is alcoholism. He understood that without solving the problem of the menace of alcoholism, no effective and sustainable reform would be successful in the village. He organized the youth of the village into a Youth Association organization and motivates them to take up the issue of alcoholism. Since these resolutions were made in the temple, they consider this as religious commitments. The villagers decided to close down the liquor shop and ban alcohol in the village. Over thirty liquor brewing units were closed by their owners voluntarily and other was forced to close down by youth group as the liquor businesses were illegal. In some case, he authorized the harsh punishment of some villagers when they were found to be drunk. He justified the punishment like mother administers bitter medicines to a sick child as she cares for the child. He motivates the youth to give up tobacco, cigarettes, and beedies (unfiltered cigarette). For the resolution, the youth group performed a unique Indian "Holi" ceremony to burn all the tobacco, cigarettes, and beedies from the shops in the village and burnt them in a ‘Holi’ fire.
Gram Panchayat (five constitutional members of a village who are elected for five years by the vote of villagers) is an important democratic institution for collective decision making in the villages of India. Gram Sabha (Village meeting) is a meeting of all adults who live in the area covered by a Gram Panchayat. Hazare used Gram Sabha as a platform for collective decision making process to discuss the issues relating to the welfare of the village. All these decisions were taken in a simple majority consensus. The decision of the Gram Sabha was accepted as final decision. Using the collective decision platform, Hazare made many decisions like bans on alcohol, bans on cutting tree, bans on drugs, etc.
He introduced Grain Bank, with the objective of providing food security to needful farmers during times of drought or crop failure. Rich farmers, or those with surplus grain production, could donate a quintal to the bank. Farmers could borrow the grain when they need but have to return the same amount of grain they borrowed, plus an additional quintal as an interest. This ensured that nobody in the village ever went hungry or had to borrow money to buy grain. This also prevented distress sales of grain at lower prices at harvest time.
Starting with small project, he solved many bigger problems in the village like water scarcity and made irritation possible. He persuaded the villagers to construct a watershed embankment to stop water and allow it to use for agriculture and increase the ground water level. The first embankment was built using volunteer efforts among villagers and later with the help of government funding. Cultivation of water-intensive crops like sugar cane was banned and crops such as pulses, oil-seeds, and certain cash crops with low water requirements were grown. In order to conserve soil and water by checking runoff, contour trenches and gully plugs were constructed along the hill slopes. Grass, shrubs and about 300,000 trees were planted along the hillside of the village. In this movement the irrigation land increased from 70 acres (28 ha) about 2,500 acres (1,000 ha) within 30 years. Government of India followed the development model and implements the concept in other villages of India. Many more project like improvement of education system, removal of untouchability due to cast system in India, collective marriage of the villagers (marriage incur heavy expenses in India and undesirable practice in India but has almost become a social obligation) and many more.
Movement on bigger prospective (State Level) - Anti-corruption protests in Maharashtra
In 1991 Hazare launched the People's Movement against Corruption, a popular movement to fight against corruption in the village, Ralegaon Siddhi against 40 forest officials and timber merchants. This protest resulted in the transfer and suspension of these officials. In May 1997 Hazare protested against alleged malpractices in the purchase of powerlooms by the Governor of Maharashtra. He was arrested in this movement and was released on later. In 2003 Hazare raised corruption charges against four ministers of the government. He started his fast until death on 9 August 2003 and ended his fast on 17 August 2003 after then chief minister formed a one-man commission to probe his charges. The commission report forced the ministered to resign from the cabinet in March 2005.
In the early 2000s Hazare led a movement in Maharashtra state which forced the state government to pass a stronger Maharashtra Right to Information Act as he believe all corruption can end only if there is freedom of information. He also opposed the government’s policy to promote making liquor from food grains in Maharashtra, argued the government that Maharashtra is a food-deficit State and there was shortage of food grains and it is not logical to promote producing liquor from food grains.
Biggest Movement (Country level): Lokpal Bill in country level
In 2011, Hazare initiated a Satyagraha (Fasting for a nobel cause) movement for passing a stronger anti-corruption Lokpal (ombudsman) bill in the Indian Parliament as conceived in the Jan Lokpal Bill (People's Ombudsman Bill). The bill is for a stronger anti-corruption bill with stronger penal actions and more independence to the ombudsmen in the states. He started hunger strike when the demand was rejected by Indian government. The movement attracted attention in the media, millions of supporters inside and outside of India, and also identified one of popular movements in India after independence. People have shown support in Internet social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Online Signature Campaigns like avaaz got more than 10 lakh signatures in just 36 hours. The middle class people and the youth power are participating voluntarily in this movement. The demand is propagated as a nation-wide general demand against corruption. In this movement he was arrested and didn’t compromise with his ideology of nonviolence by protesting against violent movement of his supporters. He became from a well-acclaimed social activist to the most powerful influencer and visionary leader of modern India.
The dedication of the followers.
Movement of modern Indian generation.
The key leadership characteristics of Anna Hazare:
Honest and Humble: Anna Hazare is unmarried. He lives in a small room of a temple. He declared property with bank balance of US$1,500 and owns 0.07 hectares of family land in the village Ralegan Siddhi which is being used by his brothers. Two other pieces of land donated to him by the Indian Army and a rich villager. He receives only a pension from the Indian army as income. Honesty is his biggest strength. A true leader can’t exist if people don’t believe him and people would not follow him if they don’t trust him. Trustworthiness is the source of the real authority. Honesty displays the sincerity, integrity, and candor in all the leader actions. Also in his enter life he showed a modest interest on his own importance. He attracted his followers by his honesty and humbleness.
Competent and Confident: Most of the decisions Hazare made, was using collective decision making process. He started his activities from a small circle and after success of each project; he started the bigger projects or movement. Such a way, he gained confident on him and also acquire the trust from his followers. He selects the actions based on reason and moral principles (social problem, problems of the followers. Problems of the general people, daily life problems, more importantly he doesn’t issues the problem as personal problem, always tries to resemble as general or follower’s problem). He was well aware of his strength (honestly, humbleness, lead from front) and selects the actions according to his strength to solve the problems. In each project he proved his confident and his competency. Most importance, followers have confidence on him and they were motivated to do what he decides.
Faces the problems and Solves it – Use the strength: A good leader always observes the situation not only in the box but also think about the out of box and so undercover the root of many problems. Hazare identified that alcoholism is the key challenges to solve many other problems of his native village Ralegan Siddhi. Without solving this he can’t achieve the level of effective and sustainable success that he desired to reform the issues in the village. He first selected the root problem and then sets out to solve it. To change the behavior of many people, it is important to identify the common intersection point of most people’s behavior. He indentified the weakness of the villagers about religious scarcity. He chooses the temple as meeting point for youth association organization. Since the resolution about alcoholism was made in the temple, the villagers sensed it as religious commitments. The great leader identify the root problem, faces it, and solve the problems using the right policy and gets the right people involved in right ways. When they indentify the root problem, don’t spend too much time to gather too much details and unnecessary information. During the solving actions they may undercover others, and adjust their policy on it. That Hazare did also. In some cases he used harsh punishment or forced elimination of liquor shop instead of voluntarily close down of illegal businesses. Great leader faces the problem, uses their strength to solve, and adjust the policy if requires.
Calm and Enthusiastic: A great leader always inspires others around him. But how is generally done? Haraze’s strength is his dedication, passion, calmness, and courageous. To achieve the desired goal great leader shows the followers by leading from the front with calmness and enthusiastic. He doesn’t scare to face the obstacle first and set a good example for the followers. Also in the insurmountable obstacle situation, he remains clam and shows confident, sometimes with childish enthusiastic (that Hazare did by running with his followers: video is attached to see) to accomplish the goal. One of the best ways to show confident in the serious condition is laugh and showing sense of humor (making fun of him –Hazare was laughing ever after five days fasting). Hazare follows the most common quote on leadership that if you can’t laugh in tough situation, you can’t be a great leader.
Visionary and directive: A great leader must have a vision for the future. He is capable to analyze the situation in out of box and break it into parts that need to be inspected. He sets the target about what they want, sets the timeline, and gives a direction how to get the results to reach on the target. During the execution, it may needs to change the plan and methods but remain strict on the target goals. Definitely Hazare is a great visionary leader. Not only he sets the target, but also he gives the direction how to achieve the goals. For the anti-corruption bill, his team made a draft on it by analyzing the people’s opinion and situation of corruption in India. As an example, he includes prime minister and judiciary into the bill. Politician and government have major disagree on it, although statistically judiciary system is one of top five corrupt organizations in India. The movement of Hazare gives the lesson that not only leader has to visionary, but also they have to be systematic and work orderly towards the final purpose. For this they must have highly analytical ability to assess the current situation and the future.
Precise and clear communicative: A great leader communicates clearly, precisely and consistently. He communicates neither more often nor infrequently. He must understand when and how to communicate and more importantly which information have to share to motivate the followers and to guide them with a clear direction how to perform a job to reach the target. Infrequent communication doesn’t build relation with the followers and followers may lose confident on him. On the other hand too much communication have problem that he may lost his control and also too much information and frequent change of direction may mislead the followers. From Hazare’s activities, we can easily understand Hazare knows the communication strategy perfectly. He communicates regularly to his followers with precise context what to do and how to do. As a example, in 24th August, 2011 on his 9th day fasting for anti corruption bill, he provided a speech to the followers that they should be non-violence if government try to put him again in jail, but he gave the clear direction to the followers that they should continue the protest by ‘jail bhoro (go to jail)’ activities non-violently. A great leader like Hazare always communicates his real feelings quite clearly with precise and consistent information being calm and confident even in tough situation.
Example of Key influences of good leadership on prospect of Anna Hazare:
- Become a solo voice against corruption in India
- Role model of modern non-violent but effective protest activities
- Single handedly protesting against enter corrupt systems and corrupt politicians
- Ideal model of Indian youth (Most popular name in Indian youth)
- More than 50% of Indian new born child in august 2011 named as ‘Anna’
- Villagers of Rama village in UP wants to add ‘Anna’ with their actual name officially to prove themselves against corruption
- Anna (meaning ‘elder brother’ is given by followers) is now symbol name of ‘anti-corruption’
Anna’s key leadership methodology:
- Be a great person to be a great leader
- If you want to do a big change, start with a little one
- Each success of small project provides confident for a bigger one
- If you know the realistic target, never give up to reach on the target
- Be ambitious but understand your strength and set target based on your strength
- Lead from the front and bet on you, not on the followers
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- "Is the 73-year-old Anna Hazare the new youth icon?" (in English). Mumbai: DNA. 10 Apr 2011. Retrieved 11 Apr 2011.
- "Lokpal Bill: Team Anna, govt fight hard today for consensus" (in English). New Delhi: Indian Express. 15 Jun 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
- "Inspiring Indians » Anna Hazare" (in English). Tata Building India.. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
- "India activist Anna Hazare ends hunger strike". BBC News. 9 April 2011. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- Sivanand, Mohan (1986). Why God Saved Anna Hazare. The Reader's Digest Association. Retrieved August 2011.
- "Activist fights Indian Corruption". Ralegan Siddhi: Southeast Missourian. 1 December 1996. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
- "'Anna Hazare's movement is anti-social justice, manuwadi'". Times of India. 19 August 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
- Reilly, Carmel (2007). Ralegan Siddhi: a special community. Thomson Nelson. pp. 24 pages. ISSN 0170126900. OCLC 9780170126908. Retrieved 9 April 2011.
- Springs of life: India's water resources Authors Ganesh Pangare, Vasudha Pangare, Binayak Das, World Water Institute (Pune, India), Bharathi Integrated Rural Development Society, Edition- illustrated, Publisher-Academic Foundation, 2006. ISBN 817188489X, 9788171884896
- Dynamics of rural development:lessons from Ralegan Siddhi Publisher- Foundation for Research in Community Health, 2002. Original from The University of Michigan. Digitized 21 Jul 2009 Length 181 pages.