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Who is Nanaji Deshmukh? A social activist who established India's first rural University

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New Delhi, Jan 25: The Centre on Friday conferred former President Pranab Mukherjee with the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award. Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader Nanaji Deshmukh and singer and musician Bhupen Hazarika have also been awarded posthumously.

Who is Nanaji Deshmukh?

Who is Nanaji Deshmukh?

Chandikadas Amritrao Deshmukh also known as Nanaji Deshmukh was a social activist from India. He worked in the fields of education, health, and rural self-reliance, and was honoured with the Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India. He was a leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and also a member of the Rajya Sabha.

Born on 11 October 1916 into a Marathi-speaking Deshastha Brahmin family at Kadoli, which is a small town in the Parbhani district, Nanaji had a great desire for education despite the lack of money. Due to this, he worked as a vegetable seller to raise money for his education. He was inspired by Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

Deshmukh became inspired by Lokamanya Tilak and his nationalist ideology, as well as showing an acquired interest in social service and activities. His family was in close contact with Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar who was a regular visitor to Deshmukh's family. He could discern potential in Nanaji and encouraged him to attend RSS shakhas.

Nanaji Deshmukh played an important role in the JP Movemnet against the Indira Gandhi government. As the general secretary of the Lok Sangharsh Samiti, Deshmukh was the main force behind social activist Jayaprakash Narayan's agitation for total revolution.

He was nominated to Rajya Sabha by the NDA Government in the year 1999 in recognition of his services to the nation.

After retirement from active politics Deshmukh then served Deendayal Research Institute that he himself had established way back in 1969. He wanted Deendayal Research Institute to be devoted to strengthening the movement for constructive work in Bharat.

Nanji established Chitrakoot Gramodya Vishwavidyalaya in Chitrakoot, India's first rural university and was its first Chancellor.

Deshmukh died on 27 February 2010 in the premises of Chitrakoot Gramoday Vishwavidyalaya that he established. He was unwell for some time due to age-related ailments and had refused to be taken to Delhi for treatment.

He was awarded Bharat Ratna in 2019 and Padma Vibhushan in 1999. India's former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam praised Deshmukh for his "single-minded devotion to the uplift of the people".

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