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Arvind Kejriwal

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The Transparency Activist

He’s a mechanical engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology. He’s worked at the Indian Revenue Service. He has been the Additional Commissioner of Income Tax in Delhi.

Nothing about Arvind Kejriwal, in short, indicated that he would turn into arguably the country’s most effective activist, the architect of Anna Hazare’s groundbreaking anti-corruption movement. It’s a subject that drove Arvind long before it exploded into public consciousness. He set up Parivartan, a non-profit organisation focussed on making government more transparent, while he was a civil servant, but kept his association with it secret to start. He conducted experiments at colony levels on ways to hold government servants accountable for local infrastructure and needs.

In 2004, he used the new RTI law to obtain extensive documents about the proposed privatisation of the Delhi Jal Board and discovered massive anomalies. That spurred him to kick off an agitation that resulted in the indefinite stalling of the proposal. And it was his draft Lokpal Bill that set the foundation for what has now become the country’s largest public movement in recent memory.

Winner of the Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership in 2006, Arvind has a deceptively calm private manner. It’s when he’s in the public eye though, championing his cause, that he undergoes an intriguing transformation, alternately passionate and provocative. It’s a manner that has proved its effectiveness in the public arena on a scale rarely witnessed before.

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