The Padma awards are given in three categories– Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. The Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service, Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of high order and Padma Shri for any distinguished service in any field.
President Kovind presents Padma Shri to Shri Harekala Hajabba for Social work. An orange Vendor hailing from Mangalore, Karnataka, aimed high by setting the dream to contribute in Indian education sector and lived his dream by saving money from his vendor business to build a school in his village.
Knowing the Man with bigger dreams:
Harekala Hajabba, a 68-year-old fruit seller from Mangalore in Karnataka, built a primary school with his hard earned daily earnings of Rs150 per day. On Monday, he received India’s fourth-highest civilian award, the Padma Shri, from President Ram Nath Kovind for his unparalleled efforts in the field of social work.
The fruit seller of Hampankatta market in Mangalore was recognized for sharing the proceeds of his earnings for the maintenance and upkeep of the school. His contributions include educating poor children in his village of Newpadapu through his organisation for over a decade.
Many years ago, when a foreign tourist asked him about the rates of an orange in English, he did not understand what had been asked and felt the need of basic education and communication in this progressive era as he was embarrassed due to his failure initially.
His village – Newpadapu – had no school depriving hundreds of children of proper education. Hajabba himself had no access for education, but he decided not to let children go through the suffering that he did. The setback of his life was his lack of education as he himself had no access for education but but he decided to deal this setback with a comeback and decided not to let children go through the suffering that he did with a dream to build a school so that every child of his village can take his own stand by the support of knowledge and wisdom. Today, the school has 175 students with classes up to the 10th standard.
Big dream and even bigger actions:
Hajabba initially convinced locals and well-wishers to help him to set up the school at a local mosque. He would sweep the school premises, boil water for the children to drink and make repeated requests with the Zilla Panchayat office in Dakshina Kannada, about 25 kilometers from his native village, to formalise the educational facilities.
In 2008, thanks to the efforts of Hajabba, a Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Higher Primary School was created at Newpadupu village. He also set up an organisation to streamline the funding of the school, while continuing to ensure that students and faculty had all the facilities they needed.
In January last year, after he was named as a recipient, Hajabba had told TNM that he wished to set up a pre-university college in the same premise for the children of his village. A well-known face locally, Hajabba’s life story is already a part of the undergraduate program at Mangalore University and he has already received several local awards.
Conclusive Justification of Struggles:
All the hard work of over two and a half decades came to significance with cameras capturing the historic moment of him receiving the Padma award; the man of the moment was dressed in a white shirt and dhoti, a bare footed man hailing from humble background who dreamed big with a broader vision to serve his country from the grass root level of education by unruffled attitude at the highest stage.