A 66-year-old orange vendor from Karnataka's Mangaluru received the second-highest from President Ramnath Kovind for bringing a revolution to rural education. Harekala Hajjaba sold orangers at Mangaluru bus depot since 1977. Hajjaba is illiterate and has never been to school himself. His desire to revolutionize his village came in 1978 when a foreigner asked him the cost of oranges, and he could not understand. He felt hurt and never wanted the same fate for his children or any children. However, his desire of building a school was realized only two decades later.
Titled As Akshara Santa
NDTV reported the Padma Shri awardee saying, "I only know Kannada, not English or Hindi. So, I was depressed as I could not help the foreigner. I wondered about constructing a school in my village". He earned the title of 'Akshara Santa (Letter Saint)' for his philanthropic work. Former MLA Late UT Fareed approved the construction of the school in 2000. The school had only 28 students when it started and now boasts of the strength of 175 students until Class 10. While talking about his next goal, he said that he would invest the prize money from several events to construct more schools and colleges in his village.
Requested PM for Pre-University In School
Hajjaba said, "My target is to build more schools and colleges in my village. Many people have donated money, and I have accumulated prize money for purchasing the land for the construction of schools and colleges". He had also requested Prime Minister Modi to facilitate the construction of Pre-University (Class 11 and 12) in the village. After reviewing the Padma Shri, the orange vendor thanked the President, the Prime Minister, MLA Nalin Kumar Kateel, district in-charge minister Kota Srinivasa Poojary and MLA UT Khadar for recognizing his philanthropic work.