Fruit Vendor To Cycle Mechanic, Inspiring Stories Of Padma Shri Awardees Who Impacted Lives

President Ram Nath Kovind on November 8, 2021, conferred the annual Padma Awards which recognizes distinguished achievements in the field of sports, art, medicine, trade & industry, social work, literature & education, public affairs among others. This year, a total of 119 highest civilian honours, comprising of 7 Padma Vibhushan, 10 Padma Bhushan and 102 Padma Shri Awards, were presented. Out of these, 29 awardees are women, 16 are Posthumous and 1 is transgender.

Among these awardees, there were some good Samaritans who need a special mention.

A 72-year-old tribal woman, Tulsi Gowda, hailing from Karnataka, was conferred the Padma Shri award yesterday for her contribution to protecting the environment, reported India Today. Also popular as the ‘Encyclopaedia of Forest’, Tulasi came for the award ceremony held in the Rashtrapati Bhawan, barefoot, dressed in her traditional attire.

The inspiring environmentalist lacked the basic necessities of life. Getting educated was a far-fetched dream. But she didn’t let poverty be her roadblock. Now, she has a vast knowledge of diverse species of plants and herbs that made her eligible for the highest civilian award. At the mere age of 12, Tulsi started volunteering for the forest department and planted more than 30,000 saplings. She has also been conserving the environment for the past several decades.

Next up is Harekala Hajabba, a fruit seller from Mangalore, Karnataka, who was bestowed with the Padma Shri for his exemplary social work in the field of education.

The 68-year-old wasn’t privileged enough to have formal education. However, he made sure that no one else in his vicinity remains uneducated. Therefore, with his earnings of Rs 150 per day, he built a school in 2000 reports India Today.

An incident, years ago, motivated Hajabba to open a school. The fruit vendor was out, selling his produce when a foreigner asked him the price of an orange. Unable to determine what the tourist was saying, he felt embarrassed. “That day I vowed to make a school,” he divulged.

“I had never had the opportunity to access education, and I 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,” Hajabba added.


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Rahibai Soma Popere who brought a revolution in the field of agriculture is another distinguished personality who was conferred with the Padma Shri award. ‘Seed mother’, as she is commonly known, hails from Kombhalne village in Ahmednagar’s Akola tehsil.

Belonging to a family of farmers, Rahibai made herself an expert in the field while working in agricultural labour and cow rearing at the age of 10, said reports. The ‘Beej Mata’ then started cultivating and conserving indigenous seeds. Earlier, a short film was also made on her campaign against hybrid seeds that won recognition at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival.

Burier of the dead, Mohammad Shareef, a cycle mechanic turned social worker is next on the list of Padma Shri awardees this year. According to Times Now, the 83-year-old has performed the last rites of over 25,000 unclaimed bodies belonging to different religions.

Shareef decided to do this noble deed after his son was murdered in 1992 and his body remained unclaimed at the nearby railway tracks.

The Padma Awards are bestowed in three categories namely Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service), Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher-order) and Padma Shri (distinguished service).

Congratulations to all the winners.

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