Is the 73-year-old Anna Hazare the new youth icon?

How else do you explain a non-glamourous, dhoti-clad leader becoming the flavour of the moment on even Facebook and Twitter?

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Is the 72-year-old social crusader Anna Hazare the new youth icon of the country? How else do you explain a non-glamourous, dhoti-clad leader becoming the flavour of the moment on even Facebook and Twitter?

Pune-based sociologists Shruti Tambe and Vandana Palsane do not think there is anything unusual in what has happened. “There is absolutely no contradiction,” said Shruti Tambe, associate professor of sociology, University of Pune. Tambe said that young people had followed Anna because of his undoubted charisma.  “It is a charisma that Anna has built over a long period of time. He has been representing causes consistently and successfully over many years. A leader assumes a leadership position on the strength of extraordinary qualities, which Anna has,” Tambe said.

Tambe also attaches a lot of importance to the prevailing situation in the country. “Quite frankly, there is a lot of gloom all around. The country’s youth have been exposed to the multiple scams every day. In the midst of all this, Anna’s bachelor status, his spartan life and clean demeanour has appealed to the youth,” Tambe said.

Tambe’s colleague Vandana Palsane, associate professor of sociology at the Maharshi Karve Stree Shikshan Sanstha’s Siddhi Vinayak college opined that the country’s youth has developed a fear for political ideology and politicians. “Most Indians and the youth in particular are frustrated with the prevailing corruption. They are looking for solutions and feel that Anna is the solution.”

Palsane however, felt that the youth were being a bit naïve and selfish in expecting Anna to have all the answers. “Most young people in their 20s are products of a globalised world with all its many opportunities. The youth sees corruption as the ultimate road block to their progress. In their naivety and selfishness, they feel that Anna has all the answers to fight corruption.”

Prem Prakash Prince (27), a masters student at the Christ College in Wadgaonsheri in Pune took part in the candle light rally with an estimated 4,000 people in Pune on Friday evening in support of Anna. Prince said, “We are the future of the nation and corruption affects us the most. We see Anna as a clean leader who has actually made the government of India listen to him. We see hope in Anna.”

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