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If you were an editor at one of those magazines that task themselves with nominating a ‘Man of the Year’, you would be hard-pressed to look beyond the most compelling double act in Indian politics of late: Arvind Kejriwal and his mentor Anna Hazare. The latter, in particular, has towered over Indian public life in recent times. Manifested in Hazare’s self-consciously Gandhian figure is our collective frustration and disgust at the way our politicians take, take, take and give so little, if at all, in return. He has breathed new life into the idea of Lokpal, into that old Indian idea that citizens, through steadfast moral courage, can shake the foundations of the most powerful and autocratic government.

But Lokpal is no flash in the pan for Hazare; in fact, it’s remarkable just how much he has been able to do: achieving a virtual miracle in Ralegan Siddhi; the anticorruption protests of the early ‘90s; acting as a spur for Right to Information legislation in Maharashtra and consequently the entire country.

Even modern-day savants, though, aren’t exempt from controversy – critics have been quick to criticise his ‘rigidness’, out of sync with a truly free nation; a moral edge to his vision of India that transcends public values and imposes a code on private ones. What cannot be denied though is that Hazare has captured the country’s imagination and managed to unite this most disparate of audiences, even if on a single issue.

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