Baba Amte

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Baba Amte
Baba Amte (1914-2008).jpg
Baba Amte in 2005
Born (1914-12-26)26 December 1914[1]
Hinganghat, Wardha, British India (present-day Maharashtra, India)
Died 9 February 2008(2008-02-09) (aged 93)
Anandwan, Maharashtra, India
Nationality Indian
Education B.A.LL.B.
Spouse(s) Sadhana Amte
Children Dr. Vikas Amte
Dr. Prakash Amte
Awards Padma Shri, 1971
Ramon Magsaysay Award, 1985
Padma Vibhushan, 1986
United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights,1988
Gandhi Peace Prize, 1999
Website http://www.anandwan.in/baba-amte.html
Signature
BabaAmte Autograph(Eng).jpg

Murlidhar Devidas Amte, popularly known as Baba Amte[2] (26 December 1914 – 9 February 2008) was an Indian social worker and social activist known particularly for his work for the rehabilitation and empowerment of poor people suffering from leprosy.[3]

Early life[edit]

Baba Amte was born to Mr. Devidas Amte and Mrs. Laxmibai Amte in the city of Hinganghat in Wardha District of Maharashtra on 26 December 1914. It was a wealthy family. His father was a British government officer with responsibilities for district administration and revenue collection.[4] Murlidhar had acquired his nickname Baba in his childhood.[5][6][7]

He came to be known as Baba not because "he was a saint or any such thing, but because his parents addressed him by that name."[8]

He was among eight children of his father.As the eldest son of a wealthy land owner, Murlidhar had an idyllic childhood. By the time he was fourteen, he owned his own gun and hunted boar and deer. When he was old enough to drive, he was given a Singer Sports car with cushions covered with panther skin. He never appreciated the restrictions that prevented him from playing with the 'low-caste' servants' children. "There is a certain callousness in families like my family.[9]" he used to say. "They put up strong barriers so as not to see the misery in the world outside and I rebelled against it. "[10]

Dedicated works[edit]

Trained in law, he developed a successful legal practice at Wardha. He soon got involved in the Indian struggle for freedom from the British Raj, and started acting as a defence lawyer for leaders of the Indian freedom movement whom the British authorities had imprisoned in the 1942 Quit India movement. He spent some time at Sevagram ashram of Mahatma Gandhi and became a follower of Gandhism for the rest of his life. He followed Gandhism, including yarn spinning using a charkha and wearing khadi. When Gandhi got to know that he has saved a girl from British soldiers who were lewdly taunting her, Gandhi gave him the name – Abhay Sadhak (Fearless Seeker of Truth).[11]

In those days, leprosy was associated with social stigma and the society disowned people suffering from leprosy. There was also a widespread misbelief that leprosy was highly contagious. Amte strove to dispel the misbelief and once allowed bacilli from a leprosy patient to be injected into him while participating in an experimental test aimed at proving that leprosy was not highly contagious.[12]

Amte founded three ashrams for treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients, disabled people, and people from marginalised sections of the society in Maharashtra, India. On 15 August 1949, he started a hospital in Anandvan under a tree. In 1973, Amte founded the Lok Biradari Prakalp to work for the Madia Gond tribal people of Gadchiroli District.

Amte devoted his life to many other social causes, the most notable among which were Knit India movement, generating public awareness towards importance of ecological balance, wildlife preservation, and the Narmada Bachao Andolan. He Was Awarded With Padma Shri by government of India in year 1971.

Dedicated works of family members[edit]

Amte married Ms. Indu Ghule (later known as Sadhanatai Amte).[5] She actively participated in her husband's social work with equal dedication. Their two sons, Dr. Vikas Amte and Dr. Prakash Amte, and two daughters-in-law, Dr. Mandakini and Dr. Bharati, are all doctors. All four have dedicated their lives to social work and causes similar to those of the senior Amte.

Son Dr. Prakash Amte and his wife Dr. Mandakini Amte run a school and a hospital at Hemalkasa village in the underprivileged district of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra where people belonging to the "Madia Gond" tribe. After marrying Prakash Amte, Mandakini Amte left her governmental medical job and moved to Hemalkasa to eventually start a hospital, a school, and an orphanage for injured wild animals, including a lion and some leopards. Their two sons, Dr. Digant and Aniket have also dedicated their lives to the same causes as their parents.[13][14] In 2008, Prakash and Mandakini were given the Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership.[15]

Baba Amte's elder son Dr. Vikas Amte and his wife Dr. Bharati Amte run the hospital at Anandwan and co-ordinate operations between Anandwan and satellite projects.[16]

Today, Anandwan and Hemalkasa village have one hospital, each. Anandwan has a university, an orphanage, and schools for the blind and the deaf. Currently, the self-sufficient Anandwan ashram has over 5,000 residents.[6] The community development project at Anandwan in Maharashtra is recognised around the world. Besides Anandwan, Amte later founded "Somnath" and "Ashokwan" ashrams for treating leprosy patients.

Gandhism[edit]

Amte followed Gandhi's way of living and taru, and led a spartan life. He wore khadi clothes made from the looms at Anandwan. He believed in Gandhi's concept of a self-sufficient village industry that empowers seemingly helpless people, and successfully brought his ideas into practice at Anandwan.

Amte also used Gandhian principles to fight against corruption, mismanagement, and poor, shortsighted planning in the government. Thus, he used non-violent means to fight the Indian government in the fight of independence.[17]

In spite of his emulation of social and political work, unlike Gandhi, Amte was an atheist.[18]

Narmada Bachao Andolan with Medha Patkar[edit]

In 1990, Amte left Anandwan for a while to live along the Narmada River and join Medha Patkar's Narmada Bachao Andolan ("Save Narmada" Movement), which fought against both unjust displacement of local inhabitants and damage to the environment on account of the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river.[19][20]

Awards[edit]

Citation: "In electing MURLIDHAR DEVIDAS AMTE to receive the 1985 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes his work-oriented rehabilitation of Indian leprosy patients and other handicapped outcasts."
  • Padma Vibhushan, 1986
  • United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights,1988
  • Gandhi Peace Prize, 1999
  • Rashtriya Bhushan, 1978: FIE Foundation Ichalkaranji (INDIA)
  • Jamnalal Bajaj Award, 1979 for Constructive Work[22]
  • N.D. Diwan Award, 1980: National Society for Equal Opportunities for the 'Handicapped' (NASEOH), Bombay
  • Ramshastri Award, 1983: Ramshastri Prabhune Foundation, Maharashtra, India
  • Indira Gandhi Memorial Award, 1985: Government of Madhya Pradesh for outstanding social service
  • Raja Ram Mohan Roy Award, 1986: Delhi
  • Fr. Maschio Platinum Jubilee Award, 1987: Bombay
  • G.D. Birla International Award, 1988: For outstanding contribution to humanism
  • Templeton Prize, 1990 [Baba Amte and Charles Birch (Emeritus professor of University of Sydney)were jointly awarded the prize in 1990]
  • Mahadeo Balwant Natu Puraskar, 1991, Pune, Maharashtra
  • Adivasi Sewak Award, 1991, Government of Maharashtra
  • Kusumagraj Puraskar, 1991
  • Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Dalit Mitra Award, 1992, Government of Maharashtra
  • Shri Nemichand Shrishrimal Award, 1994
  • Fr. Tong Memorial Award, 1995, Voluntary Health Association of India
  • Kushta Mitra Puraskar, 1995: Vidarbha Maharogi Sewa Mandal, Amravati, Maharashtra
  • Bhai Kanhaiya Award, 1997: Sri Guru Harkrishan Education Trust, Bhatinda, Punjab
  • Manav Sewa Award, 1997: Young Men's Gandhian Association, Rajkot, Gujarat
  • Sarthi Award, 1997, Nagpur, Maharashtra
  • Mahatma Gandhi Charitable Trust Award, 1997, Nagpur, Maharashtra
  • Gruhini Sakhi Sachiv Puraskar, 1997, Gadima Pratishthan, Maharashtra
  • Kumar Gandharva Puraskar, 1998
  • Apang Mitra Puraskar, 1998, Helpers of the Handicapped, Kolhapur, Maharashtra
  • Bhagwan Mahaveer Award, 1998, Chennai
  • Diwaliben Mohanlal Mehta Award, 1998, Mumbai
  • Justice K. S. Hegde Foundation Award, 1998, Karnataka
  • Baya Karve Award, 1998, Pune, Maharashtra
  • Savitribai Phule Award, 1998, Government of Maharashtra
  • Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry Award, 1988: FICCI, for outstanding achievements in training and placement of disabled persons
  • Satpaul Mittal Award, 1998, Nehru Sidhant Kendra Trust, Ludhiana, Punjab
  • Adivasi Sevak Puraskar, 1998, Government of Maharashtra
  • Gandhi Peace Prize, 1999[23]
  • Dr. Ambedkar International Award for Social Change, 1999, "in recognition of outstanding work done in pursuing the cause of the exploited and the underprivileged, reconciling differences among conflicting social groups and contributing significantly to social change"
  • Maharashtra Bhushan Award, 2004, Government of Maharashtra[24][25]
  • Bharathvasa award, 2008

Honorary titles[edit]

Quotes[edit]

  • "I don't want to be a great leader; I want to be a man who goes around with a little oilcan and when he sees a breakdown, offers his help. To me, the man who does that is greater than any holy man in saffron-coloured robes. The mechanic with the oilcan: that is my ideal in life."[4] (Self-description given to British journalist Graham Turner)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]