Sadhana Amte, the widow of social worker and Magsaysay award winner, the late Baba Amte, died of prolonged illness at Anandwan in Chandrapur district on Saturday. She was 85.
She is survived by two sons, Vikas and Magsaysay award winner Prakash and two adopted daughters, Renuka and Bijlee.
In 1946, Indu Guleshastri (later her name was changed by Baba to Sadhana) married Murlidhar alias Baba Amte, then an upcoming lawyer and a Gandhian.
In 1949, Baba set up the Maharogi Sewa Samiti, Anandwan, a home for leprosy patients and other disabled people.
A social activist in her own right, Sadhanatai, as she was affectionately called, stood out as a role model with her compassion for the poor and helped Baba Amte in difficult conditions serving and rehabilitating leprosy patients.
Their two sons and daughters-in-law, Mandakini and Bharati, are doctors and have also dedicated their lives to social work.
Born on May 5, 1926, in an orthodox family, Sadhanatai lost her father when she was 10 years old and circumstances forced her to stop studying after matriculation.
She narrated her story in “Samittu”, her autobiography, written a few years ago. In it, she described how she and her husband carried on with their mission despite adverse circumstances.
The autobiography was translated in several Indian languages.
She accompanied her husband when he left Anandwan to live near the river Narmada in support of Medha Patkar's Narmada Bachao Andolan.
Family sources said Sadhanatai had been unwell since her husband’s death on February 9, 2008.
However, her health deteriorated in the last one month, they added.
Sadhanatai had been suffering from a kidney problem for nearly four months and breathed her last around 5pm on Saturday, said Sudhakar Kadu, a trustee of Anandwan.
Her last rites will be performed at Anandwan on Sunday at 10.00am.
(With agency inputs)