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Friday, October 01, 2010

No Nobel For Baba Amte: In Good Company

Baba Amte laying in a bed

Murlidhar Devidas Amte who?

He was known as Baba Amte - not because he lived to the ripe old age of 94 years young, but because he was nicknamed baba as a child.

He was a social activist and shared his passion for working with the downtrodden with Mahatma Gandhi and Acharya Vinoba Bhave. And he shared another thing with the other two. The Nobel Foundation ignored him.

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Baba Amte was born to a brahman jaagirdar family on Dec 24, 1914 and died on Feb 8, 2008.

He studied law and started a lucrative practice in Wardha, but was appalled by the poverty in his family estate in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. He relinquished his robes and began working with sweepers and carriers of night soil. He married Sadhana Guleshastri in 1946.

After marriage he took up a formal course for leprosy treatment. First he set a camp at Warora and later started Anandwan near Nagpur, Maharashtra.

Anandwan was registered in 1951 and more land was given by the government. Two hospitals, a university, an orphanage, a school for the blind and technical wings were added subsequently. The ashram is now a self sufficient unit and more than 5,000 people are dependent on it for their livelihood.

Baba Amte also launched two Bharat Jodo — Knit India — Movements from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in 1985 and Assam and Gujarat in 1988. His aim was to establish peace and generate environmental awareness.

Baba Amte also launched the Bharat Jodo (Unite India) movements from Kanyakumari to Kashmir in 1985 andGujarat to Arunachal Pradesh in 1988, with the mission of establishing peace and raising environmental consciousness.

He was a recipient of dozens of awards including Magsasay in 1985 and Gandhi Peace Prize in 1999. See this LINK for some of them.

Here is an excellent write up on him: BABA AMTE'S VANAPRASTHA

PART 1 The Agony and Ecstasy of Late Youth

PART 2 Marriage and a shram ashram

PART 3 No big dams

PART 4 Homage to a fellow traveller

PART 5 Life at Kasravad

Baba's legacy has lived on through the tireless work of his two amazing sons and their wives, who in their own ways have contributed significantly to furthering Baba's vision. Dr. Vikas Amte runs Maharogi Sewa Samiti and coordinates operations between Anandwan and satellite projects; his wife Dr. Bharati Amte runs a hospital at Anandwan and his brother Dr. Prakash Amte and his wife Dr. Manda Amte run the school and hospital at Hemalkasa.
The good attracts the good. The truism comes alive if we look at the people Mahatma Gandhiattracted in his social activist avatar - Badshah Khan (Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan - The Frontier Gandhi), Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Baba Amte to name a few.

In the verse of Allama Iqbal:

hazarON saal nargis apni bay-noori pe rooti hai
baRi mush'qil say hota hai chaman maiN deedavar paida


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