Dr Murlidhar Devidas Amte

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  • Topic: Baba Amte, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Nobel Prize
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Dr Murlidhar Devidas Amte (December 26, 1914 – February 9, 2008), 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 only non medical person who has got max. medicine awards in the world. Baba Amte was born to Devidas and Laxmibai Amte in the town of Hinganghat in Wardha District of Maharashtra. The family was a wealthy jagirdar Brahmin family. His father was also a British official with responsibilities for district administration and revenue collection. Amte had acquired his nickname Baba in his childhood. He came to be known as Baba not because "he is a saint or any such thing, but because his parents addressed him by that name." (as explained by his wife Sadhanatai Amte) As the eldest son of a wealthy Brahmin 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 Picture Goer 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! But even then, Amte did not appreciate the restrictions that prevented him from playing with the 'low-caste' servants' children. "There is a certain callousness in families like mine." Baba says. "They put up strong barriers so as not to see the misery in the world outside and I rebelled against it." Dedicated work

Trained in law, Amte 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 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. In 1973, Amte founded the Lok Biradari Prakalp to work among the Madia Gond tribal people of Gadchiroli District. 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. Gandhism

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. In spite of his emulation of social and political work, unlike Gandhi, Amte was an atheist. Narmada Bachao Andolan

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. Awards from the Government of India

Padma Shree, 1971
Padma Vibhushan, 1986
Gandhi Peace Prize, 1999
Ramon Magsaysay Award, 1985
Other awards
Rashtriya Bhushan (Pride of the Nation), 1978: FIE Foundation Ichalkaranji (INDIA) Jamnalal Bajaj Award, 1979 for Constructive Work [19]
N.D. Diwan...
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