Not content to only preach from a pulpit, Arvind Kejriwal and his supporters took to the streets on Sunday to protest the massive 1.86 lakh coal block scam that has hit headlines. India may have just celebrated its 66th year of independence, but we are still beseiged with problems. In a situation like this, new freedom fighters, like Kejriwal, have emerged, who aren't struggling to establish independence from foreign rule, but for freedom from social evils that hold us down. We profile some of these individuals...
This frail looking man dressed in white and a Gandhi topi, managed to force the government to hear out his demands for a fair Lokpal Bill. Hazare went on a hunger strike in April last year to demand a firm stance against corruption. While the government did claim to consider the activists' point of the view, their current draft has been deemed as toothless by Team Anna. His campaign and team has been marred by controversy all year, but he continues to symbolize the common's man desire to live freely - and fairly
Dr Kiran Bedi
Madam Bedi is another well known face, not just because of her role as an IPS officer but also because of the causes she has stood up for. When Kiran speaks, the nation certainly does listen. Kiran Bedi is currently fighting alongside Anna Hazare and while she hasn't done herself too many favours in recent times with her controversial statements and dodgy dealings for her charity, she remains one of the country's most influential voices
Medha Patkar is the champion of millions of villagers in India, with her most noted cause being the Narmada Bachao Aandolan. The protest began as a demand for information about the Narmada Valley Development Projects and developed into a fight for the rehabilitation of lakhs displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Dam and other large projects along the Narmada river. When it became clear that rehabilitation was impossible, the movement challenged the very basis of the project and questioned its claim to "development." Medha has also lent her support to several other group who've challenged the questionable decisions taken by the government
While most actors are just content playing lip service, Shabana Azmi silenced critics who accussed her of trying to garner publicity by working relentlessly for several causes. Apart from her work for victims with AIDS and children, she is also a staunch critic of religious extremism. She has also lent her support to displaced Kashmiri Pandit victims and has also thrown her weight behind Team Anna in the Lokpal movement
After shooting to fame with the Booker Prize in 1997 for 'The God of Small Things', Roy turned from writing to political activism, and has declared herself as a Naxalite sympathiser. Maoists, according to her, are India's poorest people and they've seen little development in the more than 60 years since independence. She has frequently pointed out that the people of these regions have been denied basic rights. She has joined several other critics in lambasting the government about their heavy handed tactics while dealing with insurgents in the region.
Aamir Khan has been working for several social causes for years now. He lent his support to Medha Patkar's Narmada Bachao Andolan, for which his movie was banned in Gujarat. But one of his polarizing projects has been the television show 'Satyamev Jayate', that helped shed light on a variety of issues that plague society. Aamir didn't only stop there and went on to even appeal to state and union governments to help bring around change to victims of these social evils. We hope that the government can take some advice from the actor before the public unleashes its fury, Ghajini-style.
Binayak Sen started off his career working as a pediatrician in the tribal areas of Chattisgarh. In this time, he also worked with the state government in bringing in health reforms and strongly criticised the government on human rights violations during their anti-Naxalite operations. Binayak Sen was arrested in December, 2010 for allegedly supporting Naxalities and granted bail months later.. In an interview he had openly stated that he does not condone Naxalities or support violence. He has been very vocal about how the government must use peaceful means to solve the Naxal problem.
Shailesh Gandhi was one of the foremost champions of the Right to Information Act that empowered thousands to exercise their right to investigate, research and demand for data from the central and state governments. This information has helped several people to nail corrupt bureaucrats and has brought around a modicum of accountability in government offices.
Aruna Roy is a social and political activist. She worked in the Indian Administrative Service from 1968 to 1975 but resigned to devote her time to social work and reform. Besides being one of the founders of the movement to bring around the Right to Information Act in India, she was involved in the formation of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan for the organisation and empowerment of workers and peasants. She has helped shape the government's new rural jobs programme as well as a food security bill. A former civil servant, Aruna doesn't condemn a broken system, she seeks change in it.
Source : Getty Images
Irom Sharmila Chanu
Age: 40The 'Iron Lady of Manipur' was 28 years old when she began a fast unto death to protest against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), on November 4, 2000. Twelve years later, she is now being force fed through a nasal tube. She also supported Anna Hazare's Anti-corruption movement with a strongly-worded letter. Her fight continues, despite repeated arrests on the charge of 'attempt to commit suicide', as well as criticism of her method by authorities, calling it tantamount to blackmail.