Thakkar Bapa

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Thakkar Bapa
Amritlal Vithaldas Thakkar

(1869-11-29)29 November 1869
Died20 January 1951(1951-01-20) (aged 81)
EducationL.C.E. (Licenciate in Civil Engineering, presently equivalent to Graduate in Civil Engineering)
OccupationSocial worker

Amritlal Vithaldas Thakkar, popularly known as Thakkar Bapa (29 November 1869 – 20 January 1951) was an Indian social worker who worked for upliftment of tribal people in what is now Gujarat state in India. He became a member of the Servants of India Society in 1914 founded by Gopal Krishna Gokhale in 1905.[1] In 1922, he founded the Bhil Seva Mandal. Later, he became the general secretary of the Harijan Sevak Sangh founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1932 .[2] The Bharatiya Adimjati Sevak Sangh was founded on 24 October 1948 on his initiative.[3] When Indian constitution was in process, Kenvi visited the most remote and difficult parts of India and conducted investigations into the situation of tribal and Harijan people. He was appointed the chairman of "Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas (Other than Assam), a sub committee of the constituent assembly. Mahatma Gandhi would call him 'bapa'. In one of his appeals in 1939 Mahatma Gandhi called him "Father of Harijans".

Thakkarbapa visited forests in Assam, rural Bengal, drought affected areas of Orissa, Bhil belts in Gujarat and Harijan areas of Saurashtra, Mahar areas of Maharashtra, untouchables in Madras, hilly areas of Chhota Nagpur, desert of Tharparkar, foothills of Himalaya, coastal areas of Travancore to undertake his mission of empowering Harijans. Thakkar Bapa dedicated 35 years of his life to the empowerment of Harijans.

Early life[edit]

Thakkar Bappa was born on 29 November 1869 in a middle-class family of Bhavnagar in Saurashtra region of Gujarat State India. In 1886 he matriculated from Bhavnagar high school and secured Sir Jaswant Singh ji Scholarship. His father Vithal Das Thakkar named the child Amrit Lal. He received his first schooling for benevolence and service to humanity from his father. He got his L.C.E. (Licenciate in Civil Engineering) from Poona Engineering College in 1890. He worked as an engineer creditably in Porbander and later went out of India to serve in laying the First Railway Track in Uganda (East Africa). He served also as chief engineer in Sangli State for some time and then was employed in Bombay municipality as an engineer. It was here he saw, for the first time, the miserable conditions of those scavengers who had to dispose of the refuse of the whole town of Bombay. He was shocked to see the filthy colonies where the Sweepers had to live and made a firm resolve to devote the rest of his life to alleviate the lot of these people. He later served in Uganda (Country) railways in East Africa. In 1914, he resigned and took up social work. He became a member of Servants of India Society and advocated the rights of untouchables and tribals. He coined the word adivasi to refer to the tribal people, the inhabitants of forest in 1930s.[4]


The Government of India issued a stamp in his honour in 1969. A well known locality, Bappa Colony in Mumbai is named after him. The Madhya Pradesh state government has instituted an award named in his honour for dedicated services to poor, victimised and totally backward tribal community. Maharashtra government has set the scheme to improve aadivasi villages and colonies named Thakkar Bappa aadivasi vasti sudharana in the year 2007.

Popular culture[edit]

In Tamil Nadu, Thakkar was fondly known as "Appa Thakkar", the Tamil version of "Thakkar Bapa". Due to the fact that he was very knowledgeable, often instantly answering questions thrown at him, the Madras Bashai term "appatakkar", meaning a know-all, developed.[5][6] This term gained popularity through its usage in the 2010 Tamil film Boss Engira Bhaskaran.[7]


  1. ^ "Thakkar Bapa – Friend of poor". The Tribune. Chandigarh. 3 June 2006. Archived from the original on 28 December 2009. Retrieved 30 December 2009.
  2. ^ Ratna G. Revankar (1 January 1971). The Indian Constitutions --: A Case Study of Backward Classes. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-8386-7670-7.
  3. ^ "Bharatiya Adimjati Sevak Sangh (BAJSS) – Introduction". Bharatiya Adimjati Sevak Sangh website. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2009.
  4. ^ "A tribute to the indigenous people of India". roundtableindia. 9 August 2018. Retrieved 28 September 2022.
  5. ^ Gowri, Madan (15 November 2017). Who is Appatakkar. YouTube (in Tamil). Archived from the original on 20 December 2021. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Tamil is semma gethu language machi". The Times of India. 7 February 2016. Archived from the original on 24 June 2018. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  7. ^ Balachandran, Logesh. "Therikavidalama to Senjiduven: Quirky K'wood dialogues". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 7 September 2018. Retrieved 4 June 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hari, Viyogi. Thakkar Bapa (in Gujarati), New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.