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Foreigners join Hazare's nation-wide anti graft protest

August 20, 2011 - Varanasi

Support for anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare is spreading throughout the country, with foreigners too participating in demonstrations in support.

Foreign tourists in Varanasi have joined Indians in support of Hazare. They participated in a yagna to pray for Hazare on Friday.

"Corruption is not just an India centric issue, but a global problem. The trumpet on corruption has been blown here through the medium of Anna and we pray that he succeeds in his intention," said Pawan Tripathi, a priest who performed the yagna.erman tourist Martha said: "I like Anna because he is against corruption."

A supporter in Mumbai, Gaurav Sharma, climbed a 15-storey building with the Indian flag in his hand.

Sharma said his motive was to reach out to people and ask them to come out in support of Hazare.

A rally in Siliguri, West Bengal, saw around 5000 students coming out on the streets shouting slogans in support of Hazare and his Jan Lokpal Bill.

"The bill in its current form is ineffective against corruption, but the draft by Anna Hazare of the Lokpal Bill may get rid of 60-65 percent of corruption from the country, and, that is why we have brought out this rally in support of Hazare," said Sitel Chettri, a student.

Several scandals, including a telecom bribery scandal that may have cost the government up to 39 billion dollars, led to Hazare demanding anti-corruption measures. But the government anti-graft ombudsman bill has been criticized as too weak and ineffective.

Hazare"s demands have caught the imagination of millions of Indians, especially a new middle class angry over the constant bribes asked for by officials at various levels of the government, for getting simple things like a driving license, or getting admission into a college of choice.

A blundering official response has led the government to face one of the most serious protest movements in India since the 1970s. This is just the latest in a series of setbacks for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his second term in office. It has paralyzed policy making and economic reforms.


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