For an ordinary man, 11 days without food would either fell him or send him to the hospital on life support, say doctors. But for Kisan Baburao Hazare, 73, or Anna as he is affectionately called, there’s nothing extraordinary about fasting.
A veteran, with 16 fasts to his credit so far, the current one is the tenth one, which has crossed nine days. Friday was the 11th day of his fast at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan; the septuagenarian crusader continues to show the same zeal like any other person on regular diet.
Hazare’s close associates say the anti-corruption crusader starts preparation days in advance before starting any indefinite hunger strike. As the day to start the fast nears, he gradually reduces his food intake on a daily basis to condition his body to deal with starvation. The body recovers through yoga exercise.
According to people from Ralegan Siddhi, Hazare’s native village, the social crusader has only one proper meal in a day, in addition to a morning breakfast.
“His preparation begins 15 days in advance. He starts reducing his food intake each day. At the same time, he starts devoting more time to yoga,” said Sanjay Pathade, a close associate of anti-corruption crusader and author of Hazare: The Second Freedom Struggle.
Hazare’s another close aide Suresh Pathare, who is currently with him in Delhi, pointed out that Hazare doesn’t speak much to avoid exhaustion while he is on hunger strike. Some of the old timers, who have been associated with Hazare, add that this is for the first time that the crusader has been frequently addressing the gathering.
“But apart from controlled diet and yoga, it is his will power that makes him strong and focussed,” Pathare said. Hazare, who otherwise shaves beard daily, does it once in four days while he’s fasting, adds Pathare. After the fast is over, Hazare observes maun vrat to recover his energies.
Dr Sadanand Gaikwad, who has monitored Hazare’s health during his past agitations, said: “Hazare is mentally very strong and shows no signs of weakness during fasts.”
People from Ralegan Siddhi said that taking up a social cause by sitting on a hunger strike is just a way of life for Hazare. He has so far undertaken six fasts, including current one, that crossed 10 days and four fasts that crossed nine days.