Indian Anti-Corruption Activist May Make Time's Most Influential List

Five days into his fast in protest of hiked utility prices, Indian anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal was announced as a contender for the 2013 TIME 100 Poll, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Kejriwal's nomination for the list prompted an outpouring of enthusiasm from his supporters.

Kejriwal's fifteen-day fast, which lasted from March 23 to April 6, 2013, was in protest against the unfair rise in electricity and water prices in Delhi. Kejriwal spent his fast in Delhi’s impoverished neighborhood Sundar Nagari, where many of the residents had received electricity bills disproportionate to their actual use.

In late 2012, Kejriwal had launched an anti-corruption political party called Aam Aadmi Party (AAP, or “Party of the Common Man”). During Kejriwal's fast, AAP volunteers collected signatures from people pledging not to pay their inflated electricity bills; by the end of Kejriwal's fast, over one million people had signed AAP's petition. The consensus letters are due to be submitted to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit for the second time on April 28, 2013.

Arvind Kejriwal on the 15th day of his fast in Delhi's Sundar Nagari. Photo: Manish Sisodia, Member Aam Aadmi Party

Arvind Kejriwal on the 15th day of his fast in Delhi's Sundar Nagari. Photo: Manish Sisodia, Member Aam Aadmi Party. Used with permission

The activist-turned-politician called this movement “Civil Disobedience.” One of the main purposes of his fast was “to remove fear from the minds of Delhi's citizens”, as many people in India are believed to be afraid of raising their voices against corruption. According to Kejriwal, the unfair rise in electricity prices and the inflated electricity bills were the results of corruption led by a corporate-political nexus.

For many, the impact of Arvind Kejriwal's fast and his recognition by TIME magazine were reflective of his growing influence in India’s political discourse. Those who have been following Kejriwal's past as a social activist emphasized that Kejriwal was not an overnight hero. For instance, one of his significant contributions as an activist was the campaign to establish the Right To Information (RTI) Act in India, which was passed by the Delhi Assembly in 2001 and was eventually passed by the Indian parliament in 2005. Today, the RTI Act is used by many activists in India to keep tabs on corruption in government offices.

The Delhi-area blogger Aditya Pranav highlighted Kejriwal's previous contributions, writing on his blog on April 12:

Some people believe that Arvind Kejriwal has turned into a crusader overnight. It is a must watch video [hi] for them for they would then realize that the movement they are now seeing has been evolving for many years. This was about the taxpayer’s money being looted in the name of various urban developmental activities shown on paper with very little or nothing being done actually. You would see how they went on to organize a first Jan Sunwayi or public hearing of its kind wherein thousands of people including locals, journalists, MLA, Mayor and people from various social organizations gathered.

The 2013 TIME 100 Most Influential poll was open for voting from March 28 to April 12, 2013. During the voting period, the enthusiasm among Kejriwal's social media supporters was noteworthy. According to the poll results, Arvind Kejriwal received 91.51% positive votes. By the end of the TIME 100 voting period, a total of 124,769 people had voted on Arvind Kejriwal, with only 8.49% of the voters rating him as not influential.

Young people appeared more appreciative and fearless in expressing their opinions online. On April 11, Ishwar Kandpal (@ishwarkandpal) [hi], a self-proclaimed supporter of Kejriwal and the AAP, tweeted to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) of India:

मुझे गर्व है अरविन्द केजरीवाल ने विश्व भर के चुनिन्दा 100 लोगो में जगह बनाई !

I feel proud that Arvind Kejriwal has made a mark among the 100 most influential people in the world.

On March 28, another AAP supporter, Somu Kumar (@adivasi), opined that voting for Kejriwal was equivalent to voting for anti-corruption in India:

A vote for Arvind Kejriwal in 2013 #TIME100 list is a vote for India's anti-corruption movement. Please vote!

The Indian news media was not spared from criticism: an AAP supporter writing under the name of Bharat Builder (@bharat_builder) chided the Indian media for not recognizing Arvind Kejriwal’s work. He tweeted on April 12:

Listen Indian media, Arvind Kejriwal and decentralization is the idea whose time has come. @Time knows it, you don't!

Anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal took the plunge into electoral politics, promising to give the country a party of the people. Image by Rohit Gautam. Copyright Demotix (2/10/2012)

Anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal took the plunge into electoral politics, promising to give the country a party of the people. Image by Rohit Gautam. Copyright Demotix (2/10/2012)

AAP supporter Jyoti Shankar Jha (@Jyotishankarjha) [hi] was rather sarcastic in calling for those on Twitter to vote for Kejrawal. On April 11, he wrote:

मत देना अरविन्द को वोट TIME के इस पोल में रिश्वत नहीं लेता,एक भी दंगा नहीं करवाया,ना मारपीट करवाई. फिर क्यों दे वोट ?

Please don't vote for Arvind Kejriwal – he doesn't take bribes, he has not participated in a single riot, nor has he ever incited people to be violent.

However, there were some who felt that India, given its population size, could have done far better in supporting Arvind Kejriwal in the TIME 100 poll. Another of Arvind Kejriwal's supporters, Hemant Verma (@hemantverma007), opined:

We are 1250000000 Indians and we don’t have 1250000 vote Arvind Kejriwal

Other bloggers noted that inclusion in the TIME 100 poll is only intended to measure a person's influence. Freak-o-litics, a “political junkie” blogger who discusses Indian politics, wrote in an April 9 post:

One important thing to keep in mind is that these candidates chosen are simply the most influential people in the world but doesn’t necessarily mean in a positive way – as Time clearly points out: Although appearing on the list is frequently mistaken as an honor, these sets of people are recognized for changing the world, for better or for worse.

Interestingly, there have not been many Indian political leaders featured in previous TIME 100 polls. In 2012, Gujarat CM Narendra Modi was one of the hopefuls. However, he attracted more negative votes than positive votes.

The voting for the The 2013 TIME 100 Most Influential poll is now closed, and the final list is expected to be released on April 18, 2013.

This post was proofread in English by Molly Allison-Baker.


  • […] by Chirag Sutar · comments (0) Share: Donate · facebook · twitter · reddit · StumbleUpon · […]

  • India need change now
    And we will change the system
    For the AAM ADMI
    Manjeet Rana USA

  • My “no excuses”, ultra peaceful, non partisan, individual sathyagraha against corruption and for the idea of the rule of law in India.

    Now in its 23rd year.

    The press will continue to trivialize, lie and cover up, because it has trivialized lied and covered up repeatedly.

  • Government’s proposal to introduce stringent
    anti-graft law in parliament to will help minimise the menace of corruption was
    aplaued by corporate seems to be laugh.

    In India there are so many person in Beurocracy, Judicary, Corporate, Civil
    Society and Media etc. who think corruption is a disease like leprosy that has
    cure but no attention from public the main sufferer. It became more unfortunate
    when person like Anna’s cathartic movement with sudden support from public was
    supressed by few corrupt politician. Even people like B. Muthuraman president
    of Indian Industry confederation quoted in favour of Anna’s work to the welfare
    of society.

    Although Indian people are recognising the problem but feel helpless against
    their need and timelessness. The people who are voting to corrupt congress,
    Mulayam, Mayawati, Jailalita etc. do not care about corruption. They either
    follow cast or petty greed. which seem to be better than denial like developed

    Even after so much commotion after Bofars scandal no one gave much attention.
    Chief Satarkta Commissioner of India Nar Hari Singh Vittal tried his
    might to deal. Even after the proceqution term from court to Prime Minister P.
    V. N. Roa and Jailalita the non-sence did not stopped. The corruption started
    in Nehru’s first government IN 1949.
    Sunil Bhargava speaker of U.P. for BJP in 1988 gave a list before 1998

    Year Item Person
    Involved Crore

    1. 1949
    Jeep and Reifel purchase for army V. K. Krishan Manan 216.00

    2. 1957
    Mudra….Sport Goods Firoj Gandhi Unknown

    3. 1958
    Diamond Mine
    Sirajuddin Diary

    4. 1960
    Dharam Teja J.

    5. 1964
    Pratap Singh Keron Keron
    Family Unknown

    Jawaharlal Nehru 239 + Unknown

    6. 1975
    Land for Maruti Sanjay
    Gandhi 100

    7. 1980
    Indian Oil deal
    Sanjay G, & P. Sethi

    8. 1980
    Kaling Shiping Patnaik (C.M.) 80

    9. 1982
    Churahat Lotry Arjun
    Singh Unknown

    Indira Gandhi 189 + Unknown

    10. 1987
    Bofar Qvatrichi & 0ther 68

    11. 1988
    Medical Equipment Shankranand (H.M.)

    12. 1989
    Coal Tata & Fert. Cop. 50

    Rajeev Gandhi 5118

    13. 1991
    Air Bus Aviation
    Minister 200

    14. 1991
    Computer Purchase (Karnatak) Bangarappa
    (C.M.) 50

    15. 1991
    Agriculture (Karnatak) Agriculture
    Min. 500

    16. 1991
    Land Scam (Rajasthan) Minister
    & Family 500

    17. 1991
    W. Bangal Waqf Board
    Chief Minister & Son 1100

    18. 1992
    Pratibhuti Harsad Mehta

    19. 1993
    Lokomotive Engine Jafar
    Sharif (Rail M). 19

    20. 1993
    Sugar Kamal Nath (Min. in Centre) 100

    21. 1993
    Jha.Mu.Mo. P.V.N.Roa
    & Buta S. 5

    22. 1993
    Maharastra Shoes Shuseel
    K. Shinde 1500

    23. 1993
    U.P. Aurved Balram
    Yadav 72

    24. 1993
    Energy A,P. Rama
    Roa (C.M.) 2700

    25. 1995
    Communication Sukh Ram ( Centre)

    26. 1995
    Petrol & Govt. Land Satish
    S. & (S. Kaul) 100

    27. 1995
    Indian Bank T,Bh.
    Congress Leader 3000

    28. 1995
    Animal Food (Chara) Lalu
    Yadav, BJP, Cong, Comu. 950

    P.V.N.Roa 148096

    29. 1996
    Urea Ram
    L. Yadav, Sons & Other 133

    30. 1996
    Belladila Diamond Mine Still
    Under Investigation 5000

    31. 1997
    SA. R.B. Capital Bhansali
    & Director 1200

    United(Jan) Morcha Govt. 6333

    32. Chara (Animal Food) Machine Balram Jakhad Un Known

    33. Submarine

    34. Halicopter

    35. Antulai Cement

    36. Jailalita

    Corruption has rocketed under the honest prime minister
    Manmohan Singh. 2G Spectrum, Comman Wealth Games, NRHM, Mine AND Halicopter to
    name few are really horrible. The amount involved cannot be imagined. A joint
    committee had been formed by centre government headed by than Finance Minister
    Mr. Pranab Mukharji to make an anti-graft bill consist of five nominee minister
    and including five nominee of Anna
    Hazare. Now Mr. Mukharji has become President people do not know what will be
    the future of that Lokall Bill

    It is believed that corruption will minimised by introducing the Lokpal Bill
    and global investment will also increase. But there is big difference in
    thinking of government and Anna team. Most of the intelactual doubt about the
    formation of this bill forget about formulation of the legislation..

  • […] of more than 1 hundred thousand voters of Arvind, you have in fact back-stabbed them. There was huge anticipation that TIME would be supportive to a man who is fighting for the de-centralization of power in the biggest democracy in the […]

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