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Change agents

BINAYAK SEN In May 2007, Sen was arrested from Bilaspur on charges of acting as a courier for the Naxal leaders and sentenced to jail three years later. Sen, who is also a paediatrician and vice-president of the human rights body, People's Union for Civil Liberties, has now filed an appeal against the judgment.

India has a rich history of activism. A quick recap of some prominent crusaders.


In 2011, the duo launched a massive satyagraha to press their demand for a Jan Lokpal Bill. The movement mobilised thousands of Indians across the country. Hazare started an indefinite fast on April 5, 2011 at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. Public figures like former cop Kiran Bedi, lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, actor Anupam Kher, Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar participated. The movement came at an opportune time and gave vent to the public's frustration with the scamtainted UPA government at Centre. When Hazare was moved to Tihar Jail by the Delhi Police, a crowd of over 300 people gathered outside in solidarity, shouting slogans. A watered down version of what Hazare and Kejriwal wanted in the Bill was passed in both Houses of the Parliament on August 27, 2011.

Two years later, Kejriwal moved away from Hazare and formed his own political party. Both Hazare and Kejriwal come with solid activism credentials: while the former is known for his rural development work in Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra, Kejriwal was the main force behind the RTI movement.


Patkar shot to fame in the 1980s when she led a march from MP to Gujarat to protest against the construction of the Sadar Sarovar Project. She later launched the Narmada Bachao Andolan and still lends her voice to various causes, from protests in Singur to the anti-corruption stir.


Nigamanand protested for over a decade against damage to the Ganga caused by illegal quarrying on the river bed. Finally, he embarked on a fast unto death, succumbing to it 115 days later. His death was followed by controversy, with his father alleging that he was poisoned.


The Iron Lady of Manipur has been on hunger strike since November 2000, demanding the repeal of AFSPA. She has been repeatedly arrested for attempt to commit suicide and is force-fed through her nose.

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