The Social Reformer Who Gave Up His Career In Law To Fight The Stigmas Of Leprosy In India
Murlidhar Devidas Amte, A Social Reformer
Murlidhar Devidas Amte, a social reformer and lawyer by profession, dedicated his life to fighting against social stigmas and breaking the myths regarding leprosy. He has contributed his life in rehabilitation and empowerment of people suffering from this disease.
While India was fighting against the Britishers, Baba Amte not only involved him in freedom fighting but also uplifted the society. Back then, leprosy was considered as a social stigma and the people suffering from it were ostracised by the society. Since people would contemplate that Leprosy was highly contagious, Baba Amte injected Bacilli into himself. Bacilli is a class of bacteria that causes disease. He had injected bacilli from leprosy patients into him in an experimental test to prove that leprosy was not highly contagious.
Even though he had a lucrative career as trained barrister, he started a hospital for people under a tree in Anandwan in Maharashtra. He also founded three ashrams for treatment and rehabilitation of disabled people and undertook the initiative to spread awareness in the marginalised section of the society.
He was born in an affluent family in Maharashtra. He gave up his successful practice as the Barrister at Warora only to devote his life in rehabilitating leprosy patients.
He was given a name ‘Abhay Sadhak’ by Mahatma Gandhi when he saved a girl from Britishers who were lewdly taunting her. He was also awarded Padma Shri by Government of India in the year 1971.
Baba Amte’s work has touched many souls. He lived a life casting example for others. Once he asked both of his sons to meet him in the Dandakaranya forest where they saw malnutrition, poverty, illiteracy and exploitation. Baba Amte’s son Prakash, after this incident dedicated his life to contribute to the wellness of people in Hemalkasa village, Maharashtra.
Baba Amte had also started United India movement to restore peace. He left Anandwan and started living alongside river Narmada to fight against the social injustice to local inhabitants. He was a selfless social worker.
He had been honoured with many awards. Unfortunately, he left us on February 9, 2008. His journey had been an inspiration for the youngsters today.
Leprosy is a disease that affects the skin, mucous membranes, and nerves, causing discoloration and lumps on the skin and, in severe cases, disfigurement and deformities.