In 1967, Anantrao Apparao Deosarkar was a young lawyer with a passion for promoting education and a natural skill for leadership. Living amidst the farming villages of Yavatmal District, where children often walked miles to attend primary school and many did not continue past fourth grade because school was so hard to reach, he and an elder
farmer, Bapusaheb Butale, aspired to bring education to their community. They formed an organization, Yavatmal Zilla Akhil Kunbi Samaj Society (YZAKS), with a mission to impart education to the rural people of Yavatmal District. After twenty years of perseverance, Advocate Deosarkar would ultimately lay the groundwork for the flourishing college that is now Gopikabai Sitaram Gawande College (GSG College).
In 1977, Adv. Deosarkar observed a fledgling college offering arts and commerce classes from a rented building in Umarkhed, a small town in Yavatmal District. It was the only college of arts and commerce in the region. At this time, Mr. Butale, who had been President of YZAKs, resigned due to ill health, and Adv. Deosarkar became President. Adv. Deosarkar arranged for YZAKS to purchase the Arts and Commerce College from Janta Shikshan Prasark Mandal Trust of Pusad, Maharashtra. A local political leader, Narayan Patil Wankhede served as president of the college. From that date, the college was operated by YZAKS.
Adv. Deosarkar aspired to move the college from its rented building to land that the college could call its own. Due to his continuous efforts, the Government of Maharashtra allotted 32 acres of land to the college. In 1979, when YZAKS sought to construct a building on the land, local farmers and community members donated funds, but the funds were only enough to construct the basement foundation of the building, not more. In 1984, Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande donated funds to complete the building. Construction of the building was completed, and in 1987, the college’s first building was inaugurated at the hands of Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar. Adv. Deosarkar became president of the college.
In 1988, under Adv. Deosarkar’s leadership, YZAKS invited Drs. Gawande to bestow a new name on the college. Drs. Gawande committed to care for the college as their own child, and they named it after Dr. Ram Gawande’s mother, Gopikabai Sitaram Gawande, who had died when he was a young child.
Over the years that followed, Adv. Deosarkar, as President of YZAKS and GSG College, and Drs. Gawande, as patrons, grew the college to a nationally-accredited college offering vocational, bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in arts, commerce and science, and other programs. With help from SESA, Rotary Clubs, and international supporters, they established an eight-building campus blossoming with palm-trees and brimming with the hum of more than 3000 students annually.
Adv. Deosarkar served as President of YZAKS and GSG College until 2016, when he experienced health difficulties, and his son, Ram Deosarkar stepped forward to serve as President and continue his father’s legacy. On November 26, 2020, Adv. Deosarkar died peacefully at age 84. Over the days that followed, hundreds from GSG College and the wider community in Yavatmal District and Nanded District, and beyond, gathered to mourn his passing. GSG College lost a trailblazer, and Maharashtra lost a leader.
Advocate Deosarkar’s Life of Leadership
Adv. Deosarkar wore many hats over the course of his long public career in addition to serving as President of YZAKS, the governing body of GSG College.
Adv. Deosarkar was born on July 1, 1936 in Umarkhed, Maharashtra. He completed his primary education at Devasari from 1942 to 1945 and then his secondary education at Umarkhed from 1946 to 1955.
From 1955 to 1957, during his college life in Amravati, he served as the General Secretary of the Education Students' Union and participated in the United Maharashtra Movement. In 1961, he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from National College in Nagpur. He attended Nagpur College of Law from 1962 to 1965, becoming president of the student union and obtaining his L.L.B. degree. After graduation, he started his legal career in Pusad. In 1966, he was elected President of the All India Kurmi Vidyarthi Parishad at Nagpur University.
From 1972 to 1976, he served as President of Yavatmal District Central Co-operative Bank Employees Union. During that time, he toured European countries, was honored with a gold medal for excellent management at Hyderabad, and served as a member of the Agriculture University and a member of the Nagpur University Senate.
In 1978, he was elected by voters to represent Umarkhed in the Maharashtra State legislature as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). From 1983 to 1984, he was the president of the Pusad Bar Association. From 1986 to 1992, he was the Director of Yavatmal District Central Co-operative Bank and Vasant Co-operative Sugar Factory.
In 1992, he was elected Chairman of Yavatmal District Central Co-operative Bank. In 1993, he was elected Chairman of the Divisional Office, Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank, Nagpur. In 1995, he was elected President of Vasant Sahakari Sugar Factory. He was again elected by voters to represent Umarkhed in the Maharashtra State legislature as MLA from 1999 to 2004.
Locally known as “Vakil Saheb,” Adv. Deosarkar was referred to as the “leader of the masses.” He will always be remembered.