Nirmala Deshpande

Nirmala Deshpande

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Category: Social Work

Nirmala Deshpande Profile

  • Name:
  • Nirmala Deshpande
  • Born:
  • October 19, 1929
  • Died:
  • May 1, 2008

Nirmala Deshpande Biography

Nirmala Deshpande was a noted Indian social activist and Gandhian from Nagpur, Maharashtra. She lived during the period, 19 October 1929 – 1 May 2008. As a social worker she worked towards the welfare of kids and women, communal harmony, and also the services to the poor and tribal people. For her overall contributions towards the field of social work, Government of India honoured her with Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award of India in 2006. She was awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz posthumously by Pakistan in 2010. She was the first recipient of Banarsi Das Gupta "Rashtra Gaurav Puraskar" and many other honours during her lifetime. Deshpande was a nominated member of Rajya Sabha twice.


Nirmala Deshpande was born on 19 October 1929 in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Her father Purushottam Yashawant Deshpande was a well-known writer and recipient of Sahitya Akademi Award in 1962. Nirmala completed studies in politics, after which she started her career as a lecturer in Political Science in Morris College, Nagpur. She actively joined social activism in the early 1950s with Vinoba Bhave's Bhoodan movement in 1952. She was one among the members who participated in 40,000-km journey on foot, with the mission to propagate the message to give land to homeless and poor people.


Since 1983 she served as the president of Harijan Sevak Sangh till her death in 2008. She also held peace marches in Punjab and Kashmir, when violence outburst in these states. She also led a peace mission to Kashmir in 1994, and took initiative in organizing India-Pakistan meet in 1996. In 2006, Deshpande championed clemency for Afzal Guru, the main accused for terror attack. She died in her sleep on 1 May 2008, in New Delhi at the age of 79.


Published: January 05, 2020

Updated: January 05, 2020

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