Manibhai Desai

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Manibhai Bhimbhai Desai (27 April 1920 – 1993) was an Indian social activist, associate of Mahatma Gandhi, and a pioneer of rural development. At the urging of Mahatma Gandhi, when he stayed in the village of Uruli Kanchan near the city of Pune in 1946, the young Manibhai decided to devote his life to uplifting of Uruli.[1] His first major activity there was to open a Nature cure Ashram which continues to this day and is well known throughout India.The Nature cure therapy at the ashram followed guidelines issued by Gandhiji. They included regulation of diet, fast, sun-bath, fomentations, steam-bath, mud- bandage, massage and non-injurious indigenous herbs.[2] Manibhai followed this by opening a high school in Uruli.[3] Although Gandhian principles were central to Manibhai's work, he believed the rural poor can benefit from scientific advances[4] During his work at the Nature cure ashram , Manibhai self-taught himself aspects of horticulture and cattle breeding.To take this to next stage, he founded the NGO Bharatiya Agro-Industries Foundation (BAIF) in 1967.[5] BAIF has been a pioneer in cross breeding of high yielding European ccattle such as Holstein Freisian and Jersey with the sturdy Indian breeds such as Gir from Gujarat.[6][7][8][9][10] Later Manibhai expanded the scope of activities for BAIF to include animal health, nutrition, afforestation,[11] wasteland development and tribal development[12]

In 1982, HManibhai was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, sometimes called Asia's Nobel Prize.[13] The Indian government also honoured him with the Padmashree award. He received the Jamnalal Bajaj Award in 1983.,[14][15]

Early life[edit]

Manibhai Desai was born to Ramiben and Bhimbhai Desai,on April 27, 1920 in the village of Kosmada, Surat District, Bombay presidency (now in State of Gujarat), British India. his father, Bhimbhai , was a well-to-do farmer and respected leader among the farmers of the 10 or 15 villages in the area. The couple had five boys and one daughter. When Bhimbhai died in 1927, the eldest son took charge of the ancestral farm while the next two sons pursued careers in the textile industry, one becoming a gold medal spinner and the other an expert weaver and the general manager of one of India’s largest textile units. At the time of his father’s death Manibhai was in first grade at the elementary school in his native village. For the five years he attended that school (1927-1931) he ranked first in his class; he was also good in sports and a leader in the Boy Scouts. India in these years was being shaken by Mahatma Gandhi’s civil disobedience against British rule. Desai credited an incident that happened when he was ten that influenced his future life. A young man from the village, Narottambhai Patel, joined Gandhi on his march from Ahmadabad to Dandi where the demonstrators raided the salt stocks as a protest against the imposition of a salt tax. It was Patel’s duty on his return to the village, to see that a pinch of salt, which had become a symbol of the struggle for independence, was distributed to each household. He chose young Manibhai to carry out the task. Deeply moved by the sight of villagers bowing down as they ate the salt, Manibhai felt at age 10 the call of Mahatma Gandhi. Later Manibhai attended high school in Surat.Since his family wanted him to pursue a career in Engineering, young Manibhai selected Physics and Mathematics for his undergraduate studies. However, in his final year of Manibhai's study , Gandhi started the Quit India movement against the British rule that Manibhai joined[16]



Death and legacy[edit]


  1. ^ Biography at Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation
  2. ^ Gandhi M. Nature cure. Kumarappa B, editor. Navajivan Publishing House; 1954.[1]
  3. ^ Biography at Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation
  4. ^ Smillie, Ian; Hailey, John (2001). Managing for change : leadership, strategy and management in Asian NGOs. London [u.a.]: Earthscan. pp. 52,138–139. ISBN 9781853837210. 
  5. ^ Rangnekar, D.V., Pradhan, P.K. and Gahlot, O.P., 1993. Surveys and farming systems researches seen by a non-government organisation like BAIF and outside agencies. In Feeding of ruminants on fibrous crop residues. Proceedings of an international workshop held at the National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, India, ICAR, New Delhi, India (pp. 98-108).[2]
  6. ^ Deore, P.A., Sidhaye, V.J., Rangnekar, D.V., Hegde, G.R. and Mangurkar, B.R., 1990. Manual on crossbred cows [3].
  7. ^ Bandyopadhyay ., A. (editor) (2005). Sustainable agriculture. New Delhi: Northern Book Centre. p. 27. ISBN 81-7211-184-3. 
  8. ^ Bhosrekar, M.R., 1990. Semen production and artificial insemination. BAIF Development Research Foundation.[4]
  9. ^ Howard, Connie (2000). In Gandhi's Footsteps: The Manibhai Desai & BAIF Story. New Age International Ltd. p. 114. ISBN 81-224-1221-1. 
  10. ^ Biography at Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation
  11. ^ Janick, Jules (Editor); Brewbaker, James (Author) (2016). Plant Breeding Reviews, Volume 40 : Chapter II, Breeding Leucaenas. Hoboken New Jersey USA: Wiley. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-119-27968-6. 
  12. ^ Ahmad, Syed Noman (1997). Rapid rural transformation through voluntary action. New Delhi: MD Publications. p. 43. ISBN 9788175330528. 
  13. ^ Johri, Meera (2010). Greatness of spirit : profiles of Indian Magsaysay award winners. Delhi: Rajpal & Sons. pp. 94–98. ISBN 9788170288602. 
  14. ^ "Jamnalal Bajaj Award". Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation. 2015. Retrieved 13 October 2015. 
  15. ^ Howard, Connie (2000). In Gandhi's footsteps : the Manibhai Desai & BAIF story. New Delhi: New Age International. pp. 12–50. ISBN 9788122412215. 
  16. ^ Biography at Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation

External links[edit]