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In India, new middle class awakens – Anti-corruption effort could signify change in national psyche

By Simon Denyer and Rama Lakshmi

NEW DELHI — As he waited in the rain for India’s veteran anti-corruption crusader to emerge from jail, call-center employee Amit Bhardwaj was still troubled by the bribe he was forced to pay three months ago to get a birth certificate for his firstborn son.

“I hated it,” he said, miming how the official had greedily counted the notes, worth about $20, in full public view. “I had hatred for myself and for him. This was the first thing I did for my newborn son.”

Like millions of other Indians, Bhardwaj has found a degree of personal redemption by joining a national movement against corruption led by the unlikely figure of 74-year-old Anna Hazare. The peaceful movement has drawn in Indians of all ages and from all walks of life, but it marks the first time India’s new, urban middle class has put aside creature comforts and personal ambition and taken to the streets for a political cause.

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