Dr Murlidhar Devidas Amte popularly known as Baba Amte, was an Indian social worker and social activist known particularly for his work for the rehabilitation and empowerment of poor people suffering from leprosy. He is the non-medical person in the world who has received maximum medicine related awards.
The social activist is best known for the four Ashrams he helped set up in central India — three of them for leprosy patients and the fourth for adivasis (tribals). Anyone who has visited these places (Anandvan, Somnath, Ashokvan and Hemalkasa) would see the very rare combination of a fantastic visionary and also a great implementer of visions that he was. But, he had gone far ahead of that work.
Baba Amte was born to Devidas and Laxmibai Amte in the city of Hinganghat, Maharashtra, India. It was a wealthy family. His father was a British government official with responsibilities for district administration and revenue collection. Murlidhar had acquired his nickname Baba in his childhood.
As the eldest son of a wealthy landowner, Murlidhar had an idyllic childhood. By the time he was fourteen, Baba owned his own gun and hunted boar and deer. He developed a special interest in cinema, wrote reviews for the film magazine the Picturegoer and even corresponded with Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer. Norma Shearer would become one of his first foreign donors when he began working with leprosy patients. When he was old enough to drive, Baba was given a Singer sportscar with cushions covered with panther skin. Amte never appreciated the restrictions that prevented him from playing with the ‘low-caste’ servants’ children. “There is a certain callousness in families like mine.” Baba use to say. “They put up strong barriers so as not to see the misery in the world outside and I rebelled against it. “
Devotion towards work
Trained in law, Amte developed a successful legal practice at Wardha. He soon got involved in the Indian struggle for freedom from theBritish Raj, and started acting as a defense 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 practiced various aspects of Gandhism, including yarn spinning using a charkha and wearing khadi.
Amte founded three ashrams for treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients, disabled people, and people from marginalized sections of the society in Maharashtra, India. Amte devoted his life to many other social causes, the most notable among which were generating public awareness of importance of ecological balance, wildlife preservation, and the Narmada Bachao Andolan (“Save Narmada” Movement), which fought against both unjust displacement of local inhabitants and damage to the environment
The Last Days
Baba Amte had not been keeping well for several years in his later life. He was compelled to lie down on a bed for much of the time due to a severe Spondylosis. In 2007, he was diagnosed with Leukemia. Baba Amte died in Anandwan on Feb 9, 2008, at the age of 93 years, As per his last wish, he was buried and not cremated.
Upon his death, the 14th Dalai Lama, among others, expressed his condolences saying, “His demise is a great loss to all of us. I am an admirer of Baba Amte. I vividly remember my visit to his thriving community of handicapped people at Anandvan in 1990”.
Awards from the Government of India
“I don’t want to be a great leader; I want to be a man who goes around with a little oil can and when he sees a breakdown, offers his help. To me, the man who does that is greater than any holy man in saffron-colored robes. The mechanic with the oil can: that is my ideal in life.”
– Baba Amte
Courtesy and Sources : Wikipedia, Rediff, ianala.blogspot.in
- Prakash Amte (billionairesofmoments.wordpress.com)
- The Story of Narmada Bachao Andolan: Human Rights (essentialthinkers.wordpress.com)