Murlidhar Devidas Amte is a famous Indian social worker who is also known as Baba Amte. Murlidhar was given this name ‘Baba’ in his childhood. He was a social activist who was born on 26th December, 1914 and was known for his social work towards the rehabilitation and empowerment of people suffering from leprosy. His parents Mr. Devidas Amte and Mrs. Laxmibai Amte used to live in the city of Hinganghat in Wardha District of Maharashtra. His father, a wealthy land owner, was a British government officer who worked for the district administration and revenue collection departments. He is the eldest son of the family and got seven siblings. As a child, he was more involved in hunting wild animals, playing different sports and driving luxurious cars when small. Later, he along with his wife, Sadhna Amte had started an organization mainly for all the people suffering from leprosy at Anandwan in 1950.
His work had initiated as an Aarogya and he was awarded and given prizes for the great work many times. Not only has this but he received the Padma Vibhushan, the Dr. Ambedkar International Award, the Gandhi Peace Prize, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Templeton Prize and the Jamnalal Bajaj Award. In his young days, leprosy was seen associated with social stigma and the society generally never owned leprosy patients. So Amte decided to remove this misconception and make people aware that leprosy was highly contagious. As a part of an experiment, he also injected bacilli from a leper into his body to prove that leprosy was not highly contagious. Amte had found three ashrams that provided treatment and rehabilitation to leprosy patients, disabled people and people from marginalised sections of the society in Maharashtra. However, on 15 August 1949, he started his own hospital in Anandvan which was under a tree. In 1973, Amte founded the Lok Biradari Prakalp that worked for the Madia Gond tribal people of Gadchiroli District. Amte had two sons, Vikas Amte and Prakash Amte, and daughters-in-law, Mandakini and Bharati who were doctors and worked for social work and causes similar to those of their father. Amte's elder son Vikas and his wife Bharati had a hospital at Anandwan and co-ordinate operations with satellite projects. Amte was a great follower of Bapu Gandhi and his way of leading life. Amte also wore khadi clothes made from the looms at Anandwan and followed Gandhi's concept of a self-sufficient village industry that empowers seemingly helpless people, and successfully brought his ideas into practice at Anandwan. He had great involvement in the struggle for the independence of India. Amte also found ‘Somnath’ and ‘Ashokwan’ ashrams for leprosy patients. In addition to this, Amte had devoted his life completely for many other social causes, like the Quit India movement to raise public awareness on the importance of ecological balance, wildlife preservation and the Narmada Bachao Andolan. He was a great man.
By: Anuja Arora