Following the internet-aided anti-government movements across the Middle East and North Africa, a similar social media-fuelled revolution has sparked off in India. The anti-corruption campaign started by a 72-year-old Gandhian, Anna Hazare, has garnered a wave of support across the country, an online projection of which is evident in the activity on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare, better known as Anna Hazare, launched a fast unto death on Tuesday to rid India off corruption. The social activist is demanding formation of a committee consisting of five government officials and five members from the civil society to draft an Ombudsman bill, called Jan Lokpal, to rout corruption in public offices.
Although the fast, candlelight marches, and the protests are taking place in Jantar Mantar, Delhi; Hazare's 'Crusade Against Corruption' has garnered support from across the country. While Freedom Park in Bangalore, Karnataka, is teeming with Hazare supporters, widespread support for the anti-corruption campaign poured in from Andhra Pradesh, with several of the marches taking place in capital Hyderabad. In Maharashtra, Hazare's state, both Mumbai and Pune have rose in support.
Hazare has held several fasts in the past to pressurize Maharashtra government twice, once to dismiss the six corrupt ministers and 400 officers and once to enact the Maharashtra RTI Act. In 2006, the activist managed to stop the Central government from amending the RTI Act.
The overwhelming support Hazare is receiving across India in his latest fight against corruption has transformed into a massive movement on the web sphere as well. Hazare, who has come to be dubbed Modern Mahatma and Mahatma Gandhi 2.0 among other titles, and his latest cause, which has been titled India Uprising, has blazed the internet, the search trends and the social media since the onset of the fast on April 5.
Besides being the most searched on the Google India page, Hazare reigned the Twitter Trends and has garnered 70,000 likes on Facebook.
As tweets from high-profile celebrities to laymen flood the microblogging site, various pages on Facebook has gathered followers in thousands.
When somebody is fighting corruption, I don't judge his ways. I applaud his intentions and actions. I am with ANNA HAZARE. Are you?:) tweeted Bollywood actor Anupam Kher.
Rahul Bose, another actor known for his statements on social issues, posted, That it takes an Anna Hazare fasting unto death to effect systemic change is comment enough. corruption part of our DNA.
Meanwhile, media such as photos and videos related to Hazare crusade has hit the internet. Photos depicting the support that Hazare has attracted across the country have been posted on Twitpic as well as the social networking site Facebook, while videos have emerged on Youtube. For instance, the Facebook page of India Against Corruption aggregates pictures of protests happening across the country.
With the campaign gaining momentum through social media, online petitions have also garnered massive responses.
For the first time in forty three years, we have the chance to change the way politics is done. Let's join together and stand with Anna Hazare to tackle corruption and clean up Indian politics. We have no time to lose -- sign the petition to be delivered directly to Prime Minister Singh and reported to the media, and spread the word to everyone, says a statement on Avaaz.org, a website collecting signatures online.
The petition addressed to the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh reads, We stand with Anna Hazare. We call on you to endorse the Jan Lokpal bill and act urgently to implement effective measures to tackle corruption. We want a new era of corruption-free politics in our country.
Scroll down for the photos and a video of Hazare's anti-corruption crusade that has taken India by a storm: