Harekala Hajabba, an orange seller from Karnataka, was named as one of the recipients of the prestigious Padma Shri Award for 2020. According to a tweet by Indian Forest Services officer Parveen Kaswan, the 68-year-old was standing in line at a ration shop when he received the news that he had been chosen for India's fourth highest civilian honour.
"Harekala Hajabba was in a line on a ration shop when authorities informed him that he got #Padma Shri," wrote Mr Kaswan in a tweet that has been 'liked' by nearly 6,000 people since it was shared on Sunday.
"This fruit seller from Dakshin Kannada is educating poor children in his village of Newpadapu from a decade in a mosque," he said, adding that Mr Hajabba spent his own savings on the school.
Harekala Hajabba was in a line on a ration shop when authorities informed him that he got #Padma Shri. This fruit seller from Dakshin Kannada is educating poor children in his village of Newpadapu from a decade in a mosque. Doing all the efforts including spending his savings. pic.twitter.com/rufL3RZ15o— Parveen Kaswan, IFS (@ParveenKaswan) January 26, 2020
According to BBC, Harekala Hajabba's village, Newpadapu, did not have a school until he saved money from his meager earnings to set one up in 2000. As the number of students grew, he even took out loans and used his savings to buy land for the school.
Mr Hajabba, who has never received a formal education, revealed that it was an encounter with foreign tourists that led to his decision of starting a village school.
"The couple were asking me the price of oranges, but then I did not understand. Despite my best efforts, I could not talk in anything besides Tulu and Beary language. The couple walked away. I felt very bad, and felt that at least the children of my own village should not be in a similar situation. I realised the manner in which communication can help one to progress in life, and at the same time bring people together," he said to The News Minute.
Harekala Hajabba's story has won hearts on Twitter.
He is the real influencer, the real hero and a deserved recipient of the recognition. M really happy to see today the country is recognizing the efforts of a common Indian in the likes of him and Tulasi Gowda ji.— Akshay Shetty (@akkiiboye) January 26, 2020
I know this guy personally... There has been a full fledged Government school in place for a several years now, it's the Karnataka board syllabus that is taught.— #NuclearGandhi (@theangryblue) January 26, 2020
Affectionately known as ' Akshara Santa' (The saint of letters), Mr Hajabba now hopes that the government will set up a PU college in his village.Click for more trending news