Google has today dedicated a doodle on its homepage to Baba Amte. Today marks the 104th birth anniversary of famous social worker and activist. The doodle today is essentially a slideshow of pictures depicting the life and legacy of Amte.
Murlidhar Devidas Amte was born on this day back in 1914 into a wealthy Maharashtrian family. Unsurprisingly, he led a privileged childhood, and went on to study law before opening his own successful firm in his 20s. Despite the life he had led, Amte was quite aware of the class inequalities plaguing the Indian society.
By the time he had reached his 30s, Amte had left his firm, and would set off on his mission to work for and alongside the underprivileged. But it was when he encountered a man suffering from leprosy that his life completely changed. The sight of the suffering man encouraged him to work towards the betterment of the leprosy patients.
Despite all the social stigmas, Amte established Anandwan – a self-sufficient village and rehabilitation center for leprosy patients. It is said that he even injected himself with bacilli to prove that the disease was not highly contagious.
Besides his sympathies towards leprosy patients, Amte was also a strong believer in national unity. To inspire the citizens, he launched the first Knit India March in 1985. At age 72, he walked from Kanyakumari to Kashmir (over 3,000 miles), just to inspire unity in India. He was accompanied by over 100 men and 16 women in this march. Three years later, he announced a second march, where he traveled from Assam to Gujarat (over 1,800 miles).
In recognition of his work, Baba Amte was awarded the Padma Shri in 1971, the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights in 1988, and the Gandhi Peace Prize in 1999.