Shri Ramakant Keshav Deshpande alias Balasaheb Deshpande was born on 26th December 1913 (Margashirsh krushna 14 shake 1835) in Amaravati, Maharashtra.
Balasaheb Deshpande had a very active role in freedom struggle. After independence, he got opportunity to work as a Regional co-ordinator for state department for welfare of backward communities at Jashpur in Madhya Pradesh. It was vision of Thakkar Bappa who feared anti national movement in Jashpur that Balasaheb was asked to take appropriate responsibility. After sad and sudden demise of respected Thakkar Bappa, Shri Deshpande left government job and resumed his law practice. Shri Deshpande had several occasions to have fruitful interaction with Sarsanghchalak, revered Guruji and during one such interaction idea was mooted to establish a dedicated institution for Vanavasis.
Accordingly on 26th December 1952 which happened to be birthday of Shri Deshpande, Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA) was founded in Jashpur. Royal family of Jashpur patronised VKA's mission right from its inception. In 4 years of its setting up, VKA received acclaim of then Honourable President of India Dr. Rajendraprasad during a convention held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
VKA work which started in Jashpur, Madhya Pradesh, soon extended to nearby states like Bihar and Orissa. Emergency declared in 1975 appeared like a setback and an administrator was appointed for VKA while Shri Deshpande and many others were jailed. But emergency proved to be boon in disguise as VKA extended its operation to the entire country soon after emergency was called off. In 1981 VKA operations extended further to include all 7 north eastern states.
It was vision of Shri Deshpande that on the birthdate of Swami Vivekanand on 12th January 1987, it was decided to institute a sports event 'Eklavya Khelkud'. Hitraksha – protection of rights – has been one of the main purpose (Ayam) pursued by VKA. This work also started during tenure of Balasaheb Deshpande.
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सिद्धयसिद्धयोर्निर्विकार: कर्ता सात्त्विक उच्यते ॥१८.२६॥
Freed from attachment, non-egoistic, endowed with courage and enthusiasm and unperturbed by success or failure, the worker is known as a pure (Sattvika) one. Four outstanding and essential qualities of a worker. - Bhagwad Gita : XVIII-26