|Amritlal Vithaldas Thakkar|
November 29, 1869|
|Died||20 January 1951(aged 81)|
|Education||L.C.E. (Licenciate in Civil Engineering, presently equivalent to Graduate in Civil Engineering)|
Amritlal Vithaldas Thakkar, popularly known as Thakkar Bapa (29 November 1869 – 20 January 1951) was born at Bhavnagar, Gujarat. "Bapa" in Gujarati means Father in English. He was an Indian social worker who worked for upliftment of tribal people in Gujarat state in India. He became a member of the Servants of India Society founded by Gopal Krishna Gokhale in 1914. In 1922, he founded the Bhil Seva Mandal. Later, he became the general secretary of the Harijan Sevak Sangh founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1932 . The Bharatiya Adimjati Sevak Sangh was founded on 24 October 1948 on his initiative. When Indian constitution was in process, Thakkarbapa visited remotest and most difficult parts of India and conducted probe into the situation of tribal and Harijan people. He added valuable inputs in the process of constitution. Mahatma Gandhi would call him ‘Bapa’.
Thakkarbapa visited forests in Assam, rural Bengal, drought affected areas of Orissa, Bhil belts in Gujarat and Harijan areas of Saurashtra, Mahar areas of Maharashtra, untouchables in Madras, hilly areas of Chhota Nagpur, desert of Tharparkar, foothills of Himalaya, coastal areas of Travankor with his mission of upliftment of tribal and harijans. He would always travel in third class of railway. Thakkarbapa spent 35 years of his life in service of tribal and harijans.
A. V. Thakkar, known to millions of his admiring countrymen as Thakkar Bapa, led a truly dedicated life. It was, indeed, a piece of rare good luck for India that, early in his life, he should have been, to quote Mr. C. Rajagopalachari's foreword to the Commemoration Volume published in his honour in September 1949, salvaged for social work from humdrum Government service. It was while he was working in the Bombay Municipality that he first came face to face with the miserable conditions of life in which the bhangis, the poor and the downtrodden lived in the towns and villages of India. He did not join the Congress but that great judge of men, Mahatma Gandhi, had no hesitation in entrusting him with the conduct of affairs of the Harijans Sevak Sangh. Thakkar Bapa was a tireless member of the Servants of India Society and did splendid and selfless work for the uplift of the aboriginal hill tribes of Panchmahals; he founded the Bhil Seva Mandal, an organisation devoted exclusively to this field of service. Gandhiji himself and most of those in charge of State Governments, frequently called him into consultation while drafting plans for the welfare of backward tribes. Indeed, there has been no big revival or uplift movement in which Thakkar Bapa has not played a useful part. He scorned delights and lived laborious days.
A renowned social reformer, Thakkar Bappa was born on November 29, 1869 in a middle-class family of Bhavnagar in Saurashtra region of Gujarat State India. His father Vithal Das Thakur named the child Amrit Lal. He received his first schooling for benevolence and service to humanity from his father. He got his L.C.E. (Licenciate in Civil Engineering) from Poona in 1890. He worked as an engineer creditably in Porbander and later went out of India to serve in laying the First Railway Track in Uganda (East Africa). He served also as chief engineer in Sangli State for some time and then was employed in Bombay municipality as an engineer. It was here he saw, for the first time, the miserable conditions of those scavengers who had to dispose of the refuse of the whole town of Bombay. He was shocked to see the filthy colonies where the Sweepers had to live and made a firm resolve to devote the rest of his life to alleviate the lot of these people. He later served in Uganda (Country) railways in East Africa. In 1914, he resigned and took up social work. He became a member of Servants of India Society and advocated the rights of untouchables and tribals.
The Government of India issued a stamp in his honour in 1969. A well known locality, Bappa Colony in Mumbai is named after him. The Madhya Pradesh state government has instituted an award named in his honor for dedicated services to poor, victimised and totally backward tribal community.
- "Thakkar Bapa — Friend of poor". Chandigarh: The Tribune. June 3, 2006. Retrieved 30 December 2009.
- Ratna G. Revankar (1 January 1971). The Indian Constitution--: A Case Study of Backward Classes. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. pp. 124–. ISBN 978-0-8386-7670-7.
- "Bharatiya Adimjati Sevak Sangh (BAJSS) - Introduction". Bharatiya Adimjati Sevak Sangh website. Retrieved 30 December 2009.
- Hari, Viyogi. Thakkar Bapa (in Gujarati), New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.