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66-year-old orange seller in Karnataka awarded Padma Shri
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Harekala Hajabba, an orange vendor from Mangalore, received the Padma Shri award from President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday. (Photo: Twitter/ARanganathan72)

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66-year-old orange seller in Karnataka awarded Padma Shri

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Mangaluru: An orange seller from Karnataka received India's second-highest civilian award, Padma Shri Award, from the President at New Delhi on Monday, Asian News International (ANI) reported.

Harekala Hajabba, the 66-year-old vendor, received the honour for initiating a revolution in rural education by constructing a school in Harekala Newpadu village in Mangaluru. The school now hosts 175 underprivileged students, till class 10, from the village. It was started with 28 admissions.

Hajabba is illiterate and never went to school, but he sold oranges at Manguluru bus dept since 1977. In 1978, when a foreigner asked him the cost of oranges, he couldn't respond well. As he couldn't communicate well with the customer, he felt terrible. He only knew the Kannada language but not English or Hindi. So, he wondered about constructing a school in his village, and he did, the awardee told ANI.

But his desire came to success only two decades after he met the foreigner. He approached former MLA late UT Fareed, and the latter sanctioned the construction in the year 2000.

Now, Mr Hajabba wants to invest the prize money that he has received after winning various awards in these many years to construct more schools in his village. His philanthropic work earned him the title "Akshara Santa" (Letter saint).

In addition to the prize money he has, he said many had donated money for his cause. He added that he had requested Prime Minister Modi to build a pre-university college (for Class 11 and 12 students) in his village.

He thanked President Ram Nath Kovind, PM Modi, MP Nalin Kumar Kateel and others for recognising his work.

The union government announced Padma Awards on January 2020 but the Covid-19 situation pushed the awarding ceremony late.

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TAGS:Orange seller karnataka Padma Shri 
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