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10 things to know about Baba Amte- The Man Who Destigmitized Leprosy

Murlidhar Devidas Amte, popularly known as Baba Amte was a social worker and activist renowned for his contribution towards people suffering from leprosy (Hansen’s disease). He worked for the treatment, rehabilitation, and empowerment of the people suffering from leprosy.

Baba Amte 1914-2008

Here are 10 interesting facts about Baba Amte worth remembering-

1. Born on 26th December 1914, Murlidhar Devidas Amte was nicknamed as “Baba” by his parents. He was later popularly known as “Baba” Amte among his neighbors and his followers.

2. He was born into a very rich family. He owned his own gun at the age of 14 and a Signer Sports car with panther skin covered cushions when he was eligible to drive.

“There is a certain callousness in families like mine. They put up strong barriers so as not to see the misery in the world outside and I rebelled against it.”- Baba Amte

3. Since childhood, he rebelled against restrictions and barriers against “low-castes”. He would play with servants’ children and rebel in his own ways.

4. He was a part of the Indian Freedom Struggle and acted as a defense lawyer for leaders who had been imprisoned by the British authorities during the Quit India Movement of 1942.

5. He started following Gandhism after spending some time at Mahatmas Gandhi’s Sevagram ashram.

6. Mahatma Gandhi gave Dr.Amte the name- “Abhay Sadhak” (Fearless Seeker of Truth) when he came to know that Dr.Amte saved a girl from taunts of British soldiers.

7. He left his job as a lawyer and started living and working with the afflicted and helped them form unions and fight for their rights.

“I, who had never had planted a single seed in the estate was expected to enjoy the comfort of a beautiful farmhouse, while those who had toiled there all their lives had only the meanest hovels.” – Baba Amte

8. He decided to work towards leprosy to combat his fear. When he stumbled upon a man inflicted with leprosy, he ran away from him in fear. He later came to the realization that the only way to alleviate this fear was through love. And that’s when he decided to work towards leprosy patients.

“I am upset I am very much disappointed when I see within myself a wrong image of myself… A man can live without fingers, but he cannot live without self-respect…That is why I took up leprosy work. Not to help anyone but to overcome that fear in my life. That it worked out good for others is a byproduct. But the fact is I did it to overcome fear.” – Baba Amte

9. Baba Amte founded “Anandvan” in 1951, at the age of 37. Anandvan is an ashram dedicated to the treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients. His wife, Sadhanatai Amte supported him and worked dedicatedly towards this social work.

10. Baba Amte has received numerous awards and honors in his lifetime. The most notable of them are-
Padma Shri, 1971
Ramon Magsaysay Award, 1985
Padma Vibhushan, 1986
United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights,1988
Dr. Ambedkar International Award (1999)
Gandhi Peace Prize, 1999
Templeton Award, 1990

We honor Baba Amte today, on his 104th birth anniversary, for his contribution towards leprosy patients and towards destigmatizing leprosy.

Know more about Baba Amte through Wikipedia, here.

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