From a fruit vendor to Padma Shri awardee: Padma Shri Harekala Hajabba

Harekala Hajabba, a 68-year-old fruit seller from Mangalore was given India's fourth-highest civilian award, the Padma Shri, by President Ram Nath Kovind for his extraordinary efforts towards society

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NH Web Desk

Harekala Hajabba, a 68-year-old fruit seller from Mangalore was given India's fourth-highest civilian award, the Padma Shri, by President Ram Nath Kovind for his extraordinary efforts towards society.

He built a primary school with his earnings of Rs 150 per day.

Apparenly, many years ago, when a foreign tourist asked him the price of an orange in English, he did not understand what had been said and felt embarrassed. He had not had the privilege of any kind of formal education. That day he vowed to build a school.

According to a report Harekala Hajabba's village Newpadapu did not have a school for many years. All the village children were deprived of their right to education. Then, in 2000, Harekala Hajabba invested all his life savings and started a school on one acre of land as he had never had the opportunity to access education. He did not want the children in the village to suffer the same fate.

Today, the school has 175 students with classes up to the 10th standard.

It was announced in January 2020 that Harekala Hajabba would receive the Padma Shri award. However, the ceremony could not be held earlier due to the pandemic.

On Monday, Nov 8, when President Ram Nath Kovind conferred Padma Awards at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Harekala Hajabba dressed in a white shirt and dhoti walked barefooted to receive the prestigious Padma Shri award. And the moment was quite emotional.


The 2021 list of Padma Awards includes seven Padma Vibhushan, 10 Padma Bhushan and 102 Padma Shri Awards, of which 29 awardees are women and one awardee is a transgender person.

The Padma Awards have been presented in various fields, such as art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service and so on.

For the uninitiated, the Padma awards are given in three categories -- Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri – and announced annually on the eve of Republic Day.

The Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service, Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of high order and Padma Shri for distinguished service in any field.

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