Ratnappa Kumbhar :
An Idol of the 20th Century.
Indian freedom struggle is full of adventures events which have encouraged thousands of people not only in India but many foreigners have also been impressed by this movement. Gandhiji’s ‘Khadi’ ‘Non-violence’ and ‘Non co- operation’ have inspired most of the youths of India. Many people have sacrificed their lives to realize the dream of free India. Ratnappa Bharmappa Kumbhar is the veteran freedom-fighter and a member of the committee that framed the Indian Constitution.
One of these devotees of the last generation was shri Ratnappa Kumbhar. Born in a small remote village, Nimshirgaon Dist Kolhapur, Ratnappa Kumbhar graduated himself from Rajaram Collage, one of the oldest colleges in the Western Maharashtra in 1933. As a college going student he was keenly watching the acts of the great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Babu etc. He had seen the Britisher’s rude behavior and decided to join the angry wave against the British regime.
He successfully carried out the movement against the sansthan rule under the banner of the Praja Parishad group during the pre independence period. He knew that the police were searching for him so he went into the hiding for six years. But he was actively supporting the freedom fighters.
After independence Ratnappa Kumbhar devoted himself for the social work. He was one of the persons to sign the final draft of the constitution of India along with Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. He was elected the member of the parliament in 1952.
He contested and won the election for Maharashtra State legislative Assembly in 1962, 1982 and 1990. He maintained the membership till his death. He founded departmental stores on the co-operative basis when he took charge as a minister for food & civil supply.
He was loyal and sincere congress worker which rewarded him with the Vice President ship of the state Congress Committee. He was member of All India Congress Committee for 35 years. He tried to strengthen the roots of co-operative movement. He became the member for Regional Committee Indian Sugar industry export corporation Ltd, Mumbai. He founded one of the biggest sugar industries in Western Maharashtra Shri Panchganga Sahakari Sugar factory. He had a keen watch on the handlooms and power looms of Ichalkaranji. He laid the foundation of Kolhapur District Shetakari, Winkari Sahakari Spinning Mill at Ichalkaranji.
Shri Ratnappa Kumbhar was a man of versatility. Later he diverted himself to the field of education. He opened a law college, Commerce College and Night college. His contribution to the field of education is so great that the “Council of Education” is perhaps the only educational institute in Maharashtra where appointments and admissions are given purely on merit. Even after Shri. Ratnappa Kumbhar’s death this principle is still observed in real sense. He was associated with hundred of institutes in co-operative fields, industry and freedom fighters associations. His contribution to social work through co-operative movement earned him the glorious honors like Padmashree 1985 & D. Lit from Pune University 1987. Ratnappa Kumbhar died in the morning of 23 December 1998, at the age of 89.He left this world by leaving behind heaps of work and a deep vision for the generation to come.