Anna Hazare - The elderly social activist whose crusade against corruption has grabbed international headlines and inspired demonstrations throughout India in recent months seems to have come out nowhere. His infectious popularity has surprised many, but Anna Hazare has been agitating for social and political reform for over two decades.
Born Kisan Baburao in 1937 in the town of Bhingar in Maharashtra state, Hazare grew up in the nearby village of Ralegan Siddhi, the eldest of seven children. He attended primary school in Mumbai, where he lived under the care of a relative before leaving school to work as a flower vendor. In 1963, he joined the army and served until the mid- to late-1970s (accounts of when he ended his service vary from — 1975 to 1978).
According to the biography on Hazare's website, it was his visits to his home village of Ralegan Siddhi during his military service that opened his eyes to the immense problems of poverty and water scarcity that residents of the drought-prone region faced, and motivated him to return there after he left the military.
Inspired by a water management project in a nearby town, Hazare took up the cause of water conservation and watershed development in Ralegan Siddhi, working with villagers to build trenches and irrigation systems aimed at better harnessing ground and rain water. Over the years, he and his supporters implemented a series of development projects that earned Ralegan Siddhi the label of a "model village" in development circles.
[via - cbc.ca]