Nirmal Didi as commonly known was born to Vimala and Purushottam Yashawant Deshpande in Nagpur on 19 October 1929. She had embraced the 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 bhoodaan movement in 1952. She had undertaken a 40,000 km journey on foot all across India to carry Gandhi ji’s message of Grām Swarāj. She recognized that it was difficult to practice Gandhian principles, yet believed that doing so was the only way towards a truly democratic society.
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 year 2007 her name was very 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”.
Her birth anniversary is on 19 Oct but since this year Deepawali was on that date commemorative meetings were held on 17 Oct.
Today in another meeting held at Chennai to commemorate the 88th birth anniversary of Late Smt. Nirmala Deshpande, the Hon’be Vice President of India Shri. M Venkaiah Naidu addressed the same and paid his tributes there.