An Image of Baba Amte

Date of Birth: December 26, 1914

Place of Birth: Hinganghat, Wardha, Maharashtra

Parents: Devidas Amte (Father) and Laxmibai (Mother)

Spouse: Sadhana Guleshastri

Children: Dr. Prakash Amte and Dr. Vikas Amte

Education: B.A.LL.B from Wardha Law College

Religious Views: Hinduism

Died: February 9, 2008

Place of death: Anandwan, Maharashtra

On (December 26, 2019) is the 105th birth anniversary of Baba Amte, the social reformer, and activist who devoted his life to serving leprosy patients and removing the stigma around the ailment.

He was the winner of the Padma Vibhushan (1986) and the Ramon Magsaysay Award (1985).

He established Anandwan in 1949, a leprosy care center, in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, where patients were offered care and a self-reliant way of life.

About His Life

Baba Amte was born as Murlidhar Devidas Amte, on December 26, 1914, in Hinganghat, Wardha.

Called Baba by his parents, Amte was born in luxury — his father was a landowner and British government official.

He trained as a lawyer and for a while, enjoyed the life of a rich young man, horse-riding, hunting, playing bridge, and tennis.

However, he was soon involved in the freedom struggle and began working with Mahatma Gandhi.

Baba Amte’s Social Activist Journey

Baba Amte was convinced that leprosy patients could be truly helped only when the society found a cure for what he called ‘Mental Leprosy’ — the stigma and fear associated with the disease.

Thus was founded Maharogi Sewa Samiti, Warora — or Anandwan — where leprosy patients were provided with medical care and a life of dignity, engaged in agriculture, and various small and medium industries.

Baba Amte’s wife, Sadhanatai Amte, played a crucial role in setting up and running the village.

To fight the stigma associated with leprosy, Baba Amte injected himself with bacilli from a patient, to prove the ailment was not highly contagious.

Baba Amte also involved in other social causes. In 1985, he launched the first Knit India mission for peace — at the age of 72, he walked from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, a distance of more than 3,000 miles, to inspire unity in India.

He organized a second such march three years later, traveling over 1800 miles from Assam to Gujarat.

In 1990, he left Anandwan to take part in the Narmada Bachao Andolan and lived on the banks of the Narmada for seven years.

Baba Amte passed away on February 9, 2008.

He was buried and not cremated, as he wanted his body to be of use even after death. (Burial makes the body uses for the micro-organisms in the soil as against ash immersion in rivers which pollutes the water).

Awards & Achievements of Baba Amte

1. Padma Shri, 1971

2. Ramon Magsaysay Award, 1985

Citation: “In electing MURLIDHAR DEVIDAS AMTE to receive the 1985 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes his work-oriented rehabilitation of Indian leprosy patients and other handicapped outcasts.”

3. Padma Vibhushan, 1986

4. United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights, 1988

5. Gandhi Peace Prize, 1999

6. Rashtriya Bhushan, 1978: FIE Foundation Ichalkaranji (INDIA)

7. Jamnalal Bajaj Award, 1979 for Constructive Work

8. N.D. Diwan Award, 1980: National Society for Equal Opportunities for the ‘Handicapped’ (NASEOH), Bombay

9. Ramshastri Award, 1983: Ramshastri Prabhune Foundation, Maharashtra, India

10. Indira Gandhi Memorial Award, 1985: Government of Madhya Pradesh for outstanding social service

11. Raja Ram Mohan Roy Award, 1986: Delhi

12. Fr. Maschio Platinum Jubilee Award, 1987: Bombay

13. G.D. Birla International Award, 1988: For outstanding contribution to humanism

14. Templeton Prize, 1990 [Baba Amte and Charles Birch (Emeritus professor of University of Sydney) were jointly awarded the prize in 1990]

15. Mahadeo Balwant Natu Puraskar, 1991, Pune, Maharashtra

16. Adivasi Sewak Award, 1991, Government of Maharashtra

17. Kusumagraj Puraskar, 1991

18. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Dalit Mitra Award, 1992, Government of Maharashtra

19. Shri Nemichand Shrishrimal Award, 1994

20. Fr. Tong Memorial Award, 1995, Voluntary Health Association of India

21. Kushta Mitra Puraskar, 1995: Vidarbha Maharogi Sewa Mandal, Amravati, Maharashtra

22. Bhai Kanhaiya Award, 1997: Sri Guru Harkrishan Education Trust, Bhatinda, Punjab

23. Manav Sewa Award, 1997: Young Men’s Gandhian Association, Rajkot, Gujarat

24. Sarthi Award, 1997, Nagpur, Maharashtra

25. Mahatma Gandhi Charitable Trust Award, 1997, Nagpur, Maharashtra

26. Gruhini Sakhi Sachiv Puraskar, 1997, Gadima Pratishthan, Maharashtra

27. Kumar Gandharva Puraskar, 1998

28. Apang Mitra Puraskar, 1998, Helpers of the Handicapped, Kolhapur, Maharashtra

29. Bhagwan Mahaveer Award, 1998, Chennai

30. Diwaliben Mohanlal Mehta Award, 1998, Mumbai

31. Justice K. S. Hegde Foundation Award, 1998, Karnataka

32. Baya Karve Award, 1998, Pune, Maharashtra

33. Savitribai Phule Award, 1998, Government of Maharashtra

34. Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry Award, 1988: FICCI, for outstanding achievements in training and placement of disabled persons

35. Satpaul Mittal Award, 1998, Nehru Sidhant Kendra Trust, Ludhiana, Punjab

36. Adivasi Sevak Puraskar, 1998, Government of Maharashtra

Gandhi Peace Prize, 1999

37. Dr. Ambedkar International Award for Social Change, 1999

38. Maharashtra Bhushan Award, 2004, Government of Maharashtra

39. Bharathvasa award, 2008

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