Harekala Hajabba’s journey to Padma Shri is Inspiring


Harekala Hajabba is an orange vendor who hails from Mangalore, Karnataka, India and rose to fame after receiving the fourth highest civilian award, Padmashri in 2020. He is a fruit vendor who dedicated his entire life and earnings to educate others. He saved money from his vendor business and build a school in his village.

Harekala Hajabba is known for his priceless contribution and despite having so many constrained circumstances, he became the cause of education in his native village. He used to save a part of his savings from selling oranges, to start a school in his village he came from so that the children there can get education.

Interestingly, Harekala Hajabba never received any formal education himself. But, when he felt handicapped while speaking to some foreign tourists, an idea struck his mind. “The first time I felt of my lack of education was

One day, a foreigner asked me the price of the fruits in English. As I don’t know the language, I didn’t understand what he meant. That’s when I felt handicapped for the first time. Then, an idea struck me to start primary school so that the children in my village don’t have to go through what I went through,” said Hajabba. He used his earnings of Rs 150 a day and some savings to open the school in 2000. Along with the government, some local authorities also acknowledged his efforts and offered him some monetary support.

The school was initially set up in a community mosque. Later, it became Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat Higher Primary School with the help of local people and the government. Today, the school has become ‘Hajabba School’. For his services, people affectionately call him ‘Akshara Santa’ (letter-saint). Hajabba who received the honorable Padmashri Award claimed that his next dream is to build a Pre-University college in his village.


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