Indian Anti-Graft Activist Ends Hunger Strike

Posted August 28th, 2011 at 4:30 pm (UTC-5)
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An Indian reform activist, whose protest galvanized the nation's anger about corruption, is stopping his hunger strike, after parliament agreed to some of his demands for tougher anti-corruption legislation.

Anna Hazare's fast ended Sunday at an outdoor venue in New Delhi when two young children handed him a glass of coconut water and honey — a first step toward taking nutrition after refusing food for 13 days.

Hazare ended his “fast to death” after the government agreed to discuss three of his demands that would lay the groundwork for a more robust anti-corruption law. But he said his struggle is not over, and he will not back down from his fight for reforms.

His supporters want an anti-graft body to have sweeping investigative powers over virtually every level of government, including the prime minister.

The 74-year-old activist appeared to be in good health despite losing more than seven kilograms during his fast. He was taken to a hospital for observation and will slowly be introduced to food again.

On Saturday, lawmakers held a special parliamentary session during which they backed a resolution by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to create an independent anti-corruption watchdog with wide-ranging power to investigate lawmakers, the judiciary and bureaucrats.

Mukherjee had urged lawmakers to find a solution to the corruption problem in India, where a series of high-profile scandals has made national headlines. They include the sale of telecommunications licenses at below-market value and financial irregularities in India's hosting of the Commonwealth Games last year.

Popular outrage over the corruption scandals has grown steadily in India in the past year.

Hazare's fast united millions of Indians against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government.