Durgabai Desmukh was born on 15 July 1909 in Kakinada.She belonged to a middle class Andhra family. At the age of 12 she was immensely influenced by Gandhi
ji and joined Indian Freedom Movement. Durgabai Desmukh protested against English-teaching school and participated Hindi Rashtra Bhasha Prachar Movement. She also joined the campaign against foreign goods and started spinning charka.
To spread education among women Durgabai Desmukh established Balika Hindi Pathshala in 1922.She successfully led the Salt Satyagraha in 1930 .She was imprisoned by the British Government thrice. In 1933 she was released. After that she received B.A. (Hons) and M.A. (Pol. Sc.) degrees. She also obtained a degree in law. In 1933 she established Andhra Mahila Sabha in Madras to eradicate the plight of common women. She became the President of Blind Relief Association and founded a school-hostel and a light engineering workshop for them. As a member of planning commission Durgabai Desmukh raised her voice for the poor and weaker section of the society.
Durgabai Desmukh brought a number of social laws to provide justice to the poor people. She was the founder chairman of the Central Society Welfare Board. A number of organizations worked under aegis of the board and gave assistance to the women, children and handicapped. She founded the Council for Social Development in New Delhi. Durgabai Desmukh received Nehru Literacy Award and UNESCO Award for her lifelong contribution to social welfare and literacy. She was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan by India Government. Durgabai Desmukh was called `Mother of Social Work in India`. She died on 9th May 1981.