The company that Hazare keeps

· Date:April 10, 2011
Krishen Kak

Recently, the front pages of the Indian news media have been saturated with Anna Hazare’s “fast-unto-death” against corruption in the Indian polity. Hazare is described as a Gandhian – the politics and morality of the Gandhian fast is another story; this one is about the company this Gandhian keeps.  

“India Against Corruption” (IAC) is Anna Hazare’s address for his letter dt. 6/4/11 to the Prime Minister, and is therefore presumably the prime mover of this fast-unto-death. IAC describes itself as “an expression of collective anger of people of India against corruption”.  Those who started it include, besides Hazare himself, spiritual leaders Swami Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravishankar, religious leader Archbishop Vincent Concessao, a politician in the guise of a religious leader Swami Agnivesh, and three notables usually described as civil society activists: Kiran Bedi, Mallika Sarabhai, Arvind Kejriwal. In addition, “notable participants” include another now-notorious civil society activist, Medha Patkar.

Agnivesh has his own websites, his own political party, and is a “self-titled Arya Samaj scholar”. He has under his saffron robe the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award, the Right Livelihood Award, and the Rev. M.A. Thomas National Rights Award. He describes himself as “the most distinguished leader of the Arya Samaj” though this has been questioned, as has his fascination for Mother Teresa, his infatuation for Mother Sonia (“only light of hope of spirituality at end of dark tunnel”), and his unabashed admiration for Islam and Pakistan.

Kiran Bedi’s service record was actually far from distinguished; she was professionally unreliable and untrustworthy; deserted her post more than once; and expected favouritism because she was a woman officer. She excels at public and media relations and, over the years, picked up a Magsaysay award and awards from the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin, the Don Bosco Shrine, the Mother Teresa Memorial National Award for Social Justice, and other such assorted goodies. The Hindu (Delhi) on its front page on 6/4/11 had a picture of Bedi carefully situating right next to the fasting-unto-death Anna Hazare a placard that announced “bhrashtachar ko khatm karo –”.

JNSS is the Jagruk Nagrik Suraksha Sangathan (National President: Mr Denson Joseph). It proclaims itself nationalist and anti-terrorist and “salutes and supports the efforts of all agencies working hand in hand to secure the nation”. These agencies are the Home Ministry, the Delhi Police, BSF, NSS, CISF, and the United Nations! It solicits donations – but nowhere on its website does it give its accounts.

Prominent with Hazare when he began his fast were “Arvind Kejriwal along with Mallika Sarabhai and Magsaysay award winner Sandeep Pandey”, and “famous former top cop Kiran Bedi said all the activists present there would be on a day-long hunger strike, but Hazare would continue his fast till the Government agrees to our demands.”

Accused of cheating by dancers who filed a complaint against her, Mallika Sarabhai declared “neither the country nor its people for whom I have spent 25 years working deserve me”. Indians and India don’t deserve Sarabhai, but does Sarabhai deserve India? How much in those 25 years was not motivated by her desire for profit or for her own greater glory? I can personally testify to the desperation with which the dancing-Sarabhais sought government sponsorship and recognition.

There are thousands upon thousands of jawans who are far greater patriots than her – and don’t boast about it. They are prepared to die for the country that Sarabhai wanted to flee because her fellow-dancers accused her of cheating them. Why did her most vocal defenders not include any of her dancer peers? Was this because, within the dancer sorority, they were aware there was more to the Sarabhai publicly-cultivated image than met the eye?

Was she not, through this particular contract that was challenged by the dancers, peddling to them her saleability? Was she not touting her own brand image to introduce them – on payment by them to her or her organization – to foreign audiences that they could not have managed on their own? If (according to The Pioneer, Nov 2, 2003) 13 dancers complained about her, had she not netted from them a cool Rs. 2.60 lakhs for not taking them abroad!? And, if they felt cheated because she took their money – but not them – and she claimed she acted according to the terms of the contract, why should they not challenge those terms? “…there is hardly any doubt that daal mein kuchh kala hai, that something fishy has been happening over sending dance troupes to the US by Ms Sarabhai’s academy”, wrote Chandan Mitra.

As it is kala in the daal of Mapin Publishing (co-founded by her and her ex-husband and with which apparently she still is associated) that welshes on its word and its payments (cases known personally to me).

Medha Patkar
has the Right Livelihood Award, the Rev. M.A. Thomas National Human Rights Award, Amnesty International’s Human Rights Defender’s Award, and the BBC’s Green Ribbon Award for Best International Political Campaigner. Her Narmada Bachao Andolan is described as a “social movement”. Presumably this social movement handles money, if only for its own expenses. But the Supreme Court has noted the NBA is not a registered entity. So how does it bank its money? How does it account for its expenses? The NBA, which has international connections, does not seem to have its own website. Foreign sources funded its support groups. Accused of faking medical certificates, fined more than once for dodging court hearings, Patkar is now accused by the Supreme Court itself of filing a false affidavit before it.

Magsaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey and his Asha for Education have a full chapter to themselves in the Vigil book that details their magic of making foreign money disappear after it reaches them, their allergy to professional accounting, and (in the book’s Appendix 12) his blatant lying to the Deccan Chronicle.  

Now, India Against Corruption solicits donations. But it doesn’t solicit them in its own name.  It solicits money in the name of the Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF). In other words, the money you donate for IAC’s work actually goes into PCRF’s pocket. Guess who set up and runs PCRF? Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Abhinandan Sekhri, started with the Magsaysay money to Kejriwal. It is not clear from its website under what law it is registered, but it was filing a tax return in Form ITR 7 and claiming s.80G exemption.

Let us look at Public Cause Research Foundation’s accounts:

1.        For FY 2006-2007, PCRF reported Rs 51,434/- as utilized for charitable purposes – though actually all this was was entirely office/admn. expenses. It reported an opening corpus fund of Rs 13,01,000/- and a closing corpus fund of Rs 12, 49,566. In other words, it utilized its corpus fund solely for routine office/admn. expenses.

2.       For FY 07-08, PCRF reported Rs.6,31,797/- utilized for charitable purposes – again, actually all this plus another Re. 0.90 was entirely office/admn. expenses (including salaries of Rs 3,26,600/- and legal exp. of Rs 91,209/-).  It reported donations received of Rs 21,400/-, loans and advances of Rs 2,15,000/-, and a closing corpus fund of Rs 14,49,168.10/-. Its corpus fund statement as on 31/3/08 showed for “specific corpus fund” an opening balance on 1/4/07 of Rs 1,000/- only and an addition during the year of Rs 8,10,000/-. And as “nonspecific corpus fund”, an opening balance of Rs 12,48,566/-. The loan of Rs 2,15,000/- was “Kabir Loan 200,000.00” and  “Loan to Parivartan (Mangal surat) 15,000/-”.  

3.       The Parivartan is presumably Kejriwal-Sisodia’s Parivartan. Kabir appears to be the registered society “spun off of Parivartan”. Founder-member Manish Sisodia is also its “Chief Functionary”; Kabir’s governing body includes Arvind Kejriwal. Though founded in 1999, Kabir’s website reports no financial details.

4.       For the year ending 31/3/09, PCRF omits the ITR scans, the corpus fund is now Rs 31,51,416/-, the loans and advances are Rs 2,46,274/-, and the office and admn. expenses are Rs 8,10,078.10/-. No donations are reported, and there is no financial information for after 31/3/09.

5.       Kejriwal’s Parivartan was analysed in the Vigil book. Manish Sisodia was Parivartan’s founder-member and treasurer. Kejriwal and Sisodia founded PCRF, Sisodia founded Kabir, and together they “govern” it. Note the incestuous connections between all these different agencies actively soliciting money from the public, and note the opacity of their publicly-declared accounts. Kejriwal was in the income-tax service. Surely he understands accounting.

6.       Prima facie, your IAC money – which you gave because of Hazare? – is channeled into Kejriwal-Sisodia’s PCRF and from there into Kejriwal-Sisodia’s Kabir and possibly Kejriwal-Sisodia’s Parivartan.

As was asked about Parivartan, “This is transparency? This is accountability? Something wrong with their maths? Or with their morals?”

A “triumvirate” of an ex-police officer, an ex-income tax officer and a very worldly godman publicly abet an old Gandhian’s attempted suicide, while they themselves have no intention of shuffling off their mortal coil. Their personal ambitions become apparent, and there are “sharp differences in movement over spoils” – “both Kejriwal and Agnivesh can leave if they cannot sink their differences,” said Hazare.

Here was Hazare fasting-unto-death and Bedi withdrew from the dharnasthal because of “poor health”! Agnivesh opened his own direct line to the Congress. Kejriwal declared, “A 73-year-old man is fasting-unto-death… He is fighting for each one of you and for your children’s future. This is your last chance…”

And then Kejriwal smartly seized his chance and out-manoeuvred both Bedi and Agnivesh!

Sonia Gandhi’s NAC colleague Aruna Roy is emerging from the woodwork (yes, this is the same Aruna Roy whose duplicity is detailed in the Vigil book, and who calls the Indian government “fascist” but has no qualms sitting at its highest table with the de facto head of this fascist government to “advise” her and it).

–        “…who will decide who are representatives of civil society for the joint committee? Anyone and everyone can claim that they are part of civil society so must be included into this panel to formulate the Lokpal Bill.”

Of all the “civil society” activists featured here, Kejriwal has ensured he’s the only one into the joint drafting committee. Thus, Arvind Kejriwal, of dubious accounting fame, now represents at the national level our country’s “civil society”.

Anna Hazare demanded “there should be no tainted ministers in the committee. Asked if there were five untainted ministers in the government, Hazare said `they should be least tainted’.”

The public official must be “untainted” or, at any rate, “least tainted”. Fair enough. So, we assume the five ministers named to the joint drafting committee and accepted by Hazare are untainted or the least tainted, including Kapil Sibal who publicly castigated the country’s Comptroller & Auditor General and equally publicly absolved Spectrum Raja of any wrongdoing!

But, characteristically, what’s sauce for the sarkari goose is never sauce for these “civil society” ganders.

Of the “triumvirate” that negotiated the joint drafting committee’s composition, is Arvind Kejriwal really “untainted;” or, of the three, the “least tainted”? As the primary negotiator on behalf of Hazare, was it ethical of him that he negotiate his own name? If Justice Santosh Hegde who is Hazare’s first choice could suggest Justice J.S. Verma rather than himself as the “ideal person” to be the committee’s Chair, why could Kejriwal not insist on some other “civil society” activist for the committee?

Was he negotiating for his own inclusion and/or ensuring the exclusion of Bedi and Agnivesh?  

All these so-called civil society activists will be aware of the legal doctrine of clean hands. Yet, as is amply clear, they demand public officials have clean hands even as their own hands stink.

Questions arise:

1.        Baba Ramdev has been doing far more to raise popular awareness against corruption than this lot, yet neither the English-language mainstream media nor these so-called civil society activists extended to him the “civil society” support they extended to Hazare.
Why not?  

2.       None of these so-called civil society activists has stood for popular election, whether State Assembly or Parliament, except Mallika Sarabhai (and she was roundly trounced by the electorate, losing her deposit). So, whom do they really represent?

3.       Why does Anna Hazare promote that extra-Constitutional “civil society” bastion called the National Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi? He “sought to project that Gandhi and he were on the same page on the issue of an effective Lokpal Bill”.

Para 3b at must be juxtaposed with the widely-circulated “bhrast-achar” email – e.g., The connection is obvious, yet Agnivesh is “already singing paeans to the Government and Congress president Sonia Gandhi”.

4.      Whatever the merit of the cause, is Anna Hazare wittingly or unwittingly a pawn in the unclean hands of these “civil society” activists?

5.      Of IAC’s 19 others who “started the movement” with Anna Hazare, how many and which ones showed up to express solidarity when he started his “fast-unto-death”? Only four – Agnivesh, Bedi, Sarabhai and Kejriwal. Why didn’t the other founders join him?

6.      Finally, there will be expenses, if only on the bandobast of this “fast-unto-death” mela. Who is providing the money? And who is keeping the accounts?


General: – item 2 “The all important selecti
n policy”.

“NGOs, Activists and Foreign Funds: Anti-Nation Industry” (Chennai:Vigil, 2007), referred to in the text above as “the Vigil book” – 


Swami Agnivesh:


Kiran Bedi: 


Mallika Sarabhai:

Humra Quraishi, “Not quite a friend in deed”, The Hindu, Nov 7, 2003, p.FR-2

Chandan Mitra, “Kabootar, ja, ja, ja…” , The Pioneer , Nov 9, 2003


Medha Patkar:


Sandeep Pandey:


Arvind Kejriwal:


Aruna Roy:

Krishen Kak is a retired civil servant and co-editor of Vigil’s “NGOs, Activists and Foreign Funds: Anti-Nation Industry”

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  1. Sameer G Reply

    April 10, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Agreed that some of them are tainted,but any day better then Sonai G, MK, A raja, etc.etc.etc…..
    if they can make them bow down that is a victory for INDIANS.
    and over all Anna Hazare seems to be a trust worthy person!!! 5

  2. Viswajith Nair Reply

    April 10, 2011 at 4:44 am

    cong trap
    I would call BJP leaders to be stupid to have not questioned it earlier. cong wanted to create a parallel anti-corruption front which of course would be favourable to them. even RSS supported it….why?

    these are traps of congress..beware!

  3. K.Venugopal Reply

    April 10, 2011 at 4:55 am

    Required – stringent anti-terrorism bill.
    Anna Hazare has done well to force the government to constitute a committee to draft an ideal anti-corruption bill – a bill with teeth like his proposed Jan Lok Pal bill. Now someone of similar stature should force the government to constitute an ideal anti-terrorism bill – a bill with teeth like POTA. 5

  4. athreya Reply

    April 10, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    The company that Hazare keeps
    Why are some people talking about this i do not understand . They should have spoken about before the fast. All i request is to join the movement instead of blaming it at its inception 5

  5. Suresh Reply

    April 11, 2011 at 12:28 am

    Pawn in the hands anti-socials
    Seems to me that Anna Hazare has become a pawn in the hands of anti-socials, who themselves are not clean. Overnight, media has made them champions of anti-corruption. 5

  6. Ravi Reply

    April 11, 2011 at 4:43 am

    Frankly writing, the whole affair seemed to be a drama to me directed by the people (corruption in human form) from congress to save their leaders. 5

  7. Pramod Kushwaha Reply

    April 12, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Congress successful
    Congress has successfully pushed BJP and RAM DEV out of the anti-Corruption business. Great work by Congress! 5

  8. S Balasundar Reply

    April 13, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Anna Zindabad!
    With all repects to the deshpremis and sevaks,whose credibility is at stake at this hour,where the fight aginst corruption should be led properly, Anna Hazare whose andolan for janata had begun full hree decades before,is fully fitting for leading the people.All Political parties have been nailed for their double speak and dubious ways of functioning,in the name of the people. ofcourse, they are not irrelavent altogether.
    Has anyone thought about the impression Jayaprakash Narayan would make, when he led the peoples movement in Bihar in 1970’s and the impact it had made while the emergency was abrutly ended and poll was announced by the “dictator” Indira Gandhi .
    Anna is right in identifying Sonia Maino,because she happens to be the mighty person in UPA dispensation,when all others are devalued and decimated in hoding the steering wheel.
    wami Agnivesh,was fed up with the minsters robes when he escaped the clutches of ministry after 17 days of tasing of political power long back. Kiran Bedi, an excellant Police officer knew what human rights are and certainly requires a high place as she would represent women power. All said and done, the Anna Fas has given a new feeling of action among the various strata of people ,including the Sanghis. No one should be prejudicial about the efficacy of a fight for rights.Ceratinly doubts may be aired for better understanding and evaluation.Let Anna do some spade work so that non political indiviaduals do their homework and join social and political mainstream eventually. Let the young and uninspired people know more and think about the politics of the democracy in this country. It’s nobody’s monopoly.! 5

  9. m.prasanth Reply

    April 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Anti-Corruption and Opposition
    I do not understand why Haindava Keralam is not giving any importance on Anna’s anti corruption campaign, instead encouraging negative articles. This movement has created such a big awareness about corruption all over India in couple of weeks which the opposition could not do in months.
    There may be individuals in this camp they are not favorable .But is it a reasonable excuse to ignore the intent of the campaign. What about people with clean image like Sri Sri and Ramdev in the same team who are trying to educate people against corruption, in every sat sang they do where ever they go.
    Everyone knew about the attitude of Indian English media and the government on this issue. Why didn’t any other political leaders take up this Sathyagraha task before Anna? Tehelka made so much sensation mere by accusation of corruption It bought so much damage for most reputed politicians.It questioned the very principles of the ruling party. But now there is a real situation with a terrifying magnitude it is time for all citizens should support any anti corruption movement or any electoral reform bill. But downplaying and diverting from the core issue with such national importance, by every political outfit is very disappointing.

  10. chandra Reply

    April 13, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    questions to ann
    annaji why do u came to streets only today, when country has been plagued by corruption from the day we got independence, to whom (may b congress) you have been casting your votes all these days, why you have not enacted similar drama when lakhs of pundits driven out of kashmir, why you have not done similar things when bofors scandal broke out, why you have not say any thing about mms when he caught red handed helping corrupt politicians to save his kursi, why you have not raised your voice against president when she swindled public money by liquidation her co-op bank 5

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