Murlidhar Devidas Amte popularly known as Baba Amte, was an Indian social worker and social activist known particularly for his work for the rehabilitation and empowerment of poor people suffering from leprosy.
Trained in law, he developed a successful legal practice at Wardha. He soon got involved in the Indian struggle for freedom from the British Raj, and started acting as a defence lawyer for leaders of the Indian freedom movement whom the British authorities had imprisoned in the 1942 Quit India movement. He spent some time at Sevagram ashram of Mahatma Gandhi and became a follower of Gandhism for the rest of his life. He followed Gandhism, including yarn spinning using a charkha and wearing khadi. When Gandhi got to know that he has saved a girl from British soldiers who were trying to rape her, Gandhi gave him the name – Abhay Sadhak (Fearless Follower).
In those days, leprosy was associated with social stigma and the society disowned people suffering from leprosy. There was also a widespread misbelief that leprosy was contagious. Amte strove to dispel the misbelief and once allowed bacilli from a leprosy patient to be injected into him while participating in an experimental test aimed at proving that leprosy was not contagious.
Amte founded three ashrams for treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients, disabled people, and people from marginalised sections of the society in Maharashtra, India. On 15 August 1949, he started a hospital in Anandvan under a tree. In 1973, Amte founded the Lok Biradari Prakalp to work for the Madia Gond tribal people of Gadchiroli District.
Amte devoted his life to many other social causes, the most notable among which were generating public awareness towards importance of ecological balance, wildlife preservation, and the Narmada Bachao Andolan.