Motibhai Amin - 11 November 1673

 Motibhai Amin - 11 November 1673

Motibhai Amin, son of Sm. Jeeba and Narasimhabhai Amin, was born at Alindra, South Gujarat, in the house of his maternal uncle on November 11, 1673. The Amin family of the Leua Patidar community hailed from Vaso, a town in South Gujarat. Motibhai was married to Sm. Roopha at the age of six in 1879. He passed Matriculation in 1894, securing a scholarship from the Vaso English School. He joined the Baroda College in 1895 and took his B.A. with History and Roman Law as special subjects in 1900.

Being of the conviction that social awakening should precede political emancipation, Motibhai rejected the offer of a coveted post in the Gaekwad’s administrative service and chose to become a school teacher at Baroda in 1901 and later at Patan in 1902. He was appointed Head Master of the English High School at Petlad in 1905. He considered hostel life and library habit important for young students and encouraged local people to organise these two institutions. He himself started the Simdar Pustakalaya at Vaso in 1889 and the Mitra Mandal Pustakalaya at Petlad in 1906.

Motibhai was appointed Assistant Director of Libraries, Baroda State, in 1911; Assistant Curator in charge of District and Travelling Libraries in 1921; Honorary Secretary, Baroda State Library; and President, Baroda Pustakalaya Sahayak Sahakari Mandal in 1935. One thousand one hundred and sixteen villages contributed their mite to have a library each, thanks to the persuasion of Motibhai.

In 1925 he organised the first Baroda State Library Conference and published a classified list of 8000 Gujarati books, in 1929. He also encouraged his friend Bhikshu Akhandananda of Sastu Sahitya Prakashan to publish and make available at nominal price the originals and translations of works of lasting importance.

Following Gokhale’s advice of doing intensive work in a small unit, Motibhai, while concentrating on the home town of Vaso, dedicated himself to the comprehensive development of the Charotar region in South Gujarat. He established the Vaso Young Men’s Association in 1913; Vaso Education Society, 1916; Charotar Yuvak Mandal, 1917; Charotar Education Co-Operative Credit Society, 1920; Charotar Education Society, 1921; Charotar Boarding House at Baroda, 1929; Vaso Co-operative Bank, 1936; Granthavardhak Sabha, Vaso, 1937; and Charotar Rushi Mandal in 1937. The moral and material support of Motibhai enabled many a brilliant student to pursue higher studies in India and abroad. Social service was his second nature and due to the exertions of Motibhai much progress was made in the Charotar region in the fields of education, eradication of adult illiteracy, untouchability, obsolete customs and agricultural debts. Under his guidance Vaso could boast of child education classes run according to the Montessori system as early as 1915.

Paying tribute to Motibhai’s signal services to the Charotar, Gandhiji described him as ‘Charotar nu Moti’, meaning ‘Gem of Charotar’. The Akhil Hind Gram Pustakalaya Parishad, recognising Motibhai’s services to the library movement, awarded him the title of ‘Granthalaya Udyama Pitamaha’ in 1933. The Gujarat Vernacular Society honoured him by bestowing Honorary Membership of the Society, the only other individual to be so honoured being Gandhiji. 




Reference: DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY – Vol 1 edited by S. P. Sen – Institute of Historical Studies – Calcutta - 1972

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