Harekala Hajabba (65) to receive the Prestigious ‘Padma Shri Award’ on Nov 8 in New Delhi

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Harekala Hajabba (65) to receive the Prestigious ‘Padma Shri Award’ on Nov 8 in New Delhi

Mangaluru: Harekala Hajabba, who has been chosen for the Padma Shri Award 2020, will receive the prestigious honour in New Delhi on 8 November 2021.

Hajabba, the orange seller who saved money to build a school in his village, was declared the recipient of one of the highest civilian honours of India on January 25, 2020. Hajabba received a letter intimating that the certificate signed by the President will be presented to him in March, but the ceremony was delayed due to the pandemic.

Speaking to the media Hajabba said, “I have been in touch with the office of the Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel to make necessary arrangements for my travel to New Delhi for the ceremony. The government will take care of all my expenses. I will be leaving on 7 November. I will preserve this prestigious honour bestowed on me in my house along with other awards, mementos and certificates that I received from more than 500 organisations”.

Hajabba, 65, an illiterate fruit vendor who is popularly known as ‘Akshara Santa’ (Saint of Letters), was successful in building a school to educate children of his village in New Padpu, Harekala, located about 35 km from Mangaluru city. Deeply pained that he could not study as his village did not have a school, he took it up as a challenge and his journey towards building a school in Harekala began in 1995. He left no stone unturned to get land for the school and for approval from the education department. His dream turned into reality when Dakshina Kannada Zilla panchayat sanctioned a school in 1999.

Initially, Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Lower Primary School popular as ‘Hajabba Navara Shale’ (Hajabba’s school) was functioning in a Mosque. Later, Hajabba built classrooms for the school on 40 cents of land sanctioned by the district administration.


Harekala Hajabba is an orange vendor in the city of Mangalore, Karnataka, India, who saved money from his vendor business to build a school in his village. In 2020, he was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award, for his commendable initiative.

Harekala Hajabba is known for the extraordinary contribution he made, despite his own relatively constrained circumstances, to the cause of education in his native village. He kept part of his savings from selling oranges, to start a school in the region he came from so that the children there could get educated. Today, the school, which has grown with government support and donations from private individuals, is known as Hajabba School. He is affectionately known as ‘Akshara Santa’ (letter-saint). Hajabba’s next dream is to build a Pre-University college in his village.

Social activist and writer Ismath Pajeer has published a book on Hajabba’s life, titled ‘Harekala Hajabbara Jeevana Charitre’ (Life story of Harekala Hajabba). A life history of Hajabba has been included in the syllabus of Mangalore University. The British Broadcasting Corporation published an article on Hajabba with the title “Unlettered fruit-seller’s Indian education dream” in November, 2012. Hajabba was conferred with the ‘Real Heroes’ award by CNN IBN and Reliance Foundation. He was named Person Of The Year by Kannada Prabha, a leading Kannada-language newspaper. In 2020, the Government of India conferred the nation’s fourth-highest civilian award, the Padma Shri, on Hajabba.

(Harekala Hajabba Profile- The Wikipedia)

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1 Comment

  1. He is a nation-builder. Harekala Hajabba is serving the nation with dedication and distinction.

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