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Remembering Nirmala Deshpande: Social activist who had been nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Deshpande was president of the Harijan Sevak Sangh founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1932 with an aim to work for uplift of Harijans and remove untouchability from the nation. 

By Newsd
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Remembering Nirmala Deshpande: Social activist who had been nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Padma Vibhushan late Dr Nirmala Deshpande, was a veteran Gandhian, social activist and former Rajya Sabha member nominated by the President of India.

Deshpande was president of the Harijan Sevak Sangh founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1932 with an aim to work for uplift of Harijans and remove untouchability from the nation. 

She founded the Akhil Bharat Rachnatmak Samaj (ABRS), a federation of Gandhian institutions and social activists in 1984 to work for communal harmony, world peace, national integrity and universal brotherhood.

She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her selfless devotion towards world peace, unity and friendship among all nations.

Nirmala Didi as commonly known was born to Vimala and Purushottam Yashawant Deshpande in Nagpur on 19 October 1929. She had embraced Gandhian philosophy at a very young age. She ended up devoting her life in promotion of communal harmony and service to women.

Deshpande joined Vinoba Bhave’s bhoodan movement in 1952. She had undertaken a 40,000 km journey on foot all across India to carry Gandhi ‘s message of Grām Swaraj. She recognized that it was difficult to practice Gandhian principles, yet believed that doing so was the only way towards a truly democratic society.

Nirmala Didi had done her MA in Political Science from Nagpur. She also studied at Fergusson College  Pune. Thereafter, she served as a lecturer in Political Science in Morris College, Nagpur

She was decorated with Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award of India in 2006 and was awarded with Sitara-e-Imtiaz posthumously by Pakistan in 2010.

Deshpande was a nominated member of Rajya Sabha for two terms.

Addressing the attendees the Chairman of SNSMT Shri. Suparno Satpathy said ” Nirmala ji was a mentor to me. She was very close to both my grandparents. In 2007 her name was considered for the Indian Presidential position. I personally was privy to the same. Had she not taken ill then, India would have had Nirmala Deshpande as the first lady to take the office of President of India. She was a wonderful soul. Her sudden demise on 1st of May 2008 was a huge personal loss as well as a great loss to India. 1st of May 2008 shall always remain as one of the saddest days of my life”.

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