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Setting the moral high – One Padmashree at a time

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Mahatma Gandhi said- “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”. We are living in a world where it has become a trend for actors, sports personalities, and celebrities to associate themselves with one or another social cause, trying to preach morality and righteousness to the people on social issues and many times getting exposed for their double standards and absolute hypocrisy when it comes to following what they preach to the public.

Unfortunately, social welfare has turned into a madhouse of woke social activism where masses sitting in their cosy weather rooms, with all the life’s indulgence around them, try to boast their concerns through social media pictures and posts, getting praise for their noble thoughts and validation from their peers and feel like they have altered the world.

But thankfully, there are moments we come across stories of genuine, devoted and selfless acts of social welfare which re-instil our belief in humanity and the cause and the true spirit of welfare. People with a firm determination to bring about a change in the lives of the indigent at the surface by whatever means possible, with whatever resources God has given and not just change the destiny of those benefited but touching the chances of the upcoming generations by their generosity and acts of kindness.

One such story which has recently enlightened many true believers of welfare is of Harekala Hajabba, an orange seller from a small village near Mangaluru in the state of Karnataka. Harekala, who never got a chance to obtain an education, made it a mission of his life to not let the children from his village go down the same fate as his. The man earning a meager sum daily by selling oranges got his inspiration from an incident in 1978. One day when a foreigner walked up to him to ask the price of his oranges, Harekala couldn’t understand or respond to the foreigner as he did not understand English. This incident left him feeling embarrassed and incapable, and it gave origin to a lasting desire of bringing a revolution to his village through education. He dreamt of establishing a school for the children of his town so that they don’t face what he had faced that day. It took more than two decades for his dream to get realised.

Ultimately, with all his life’s saving, he bought an acre of land and with pure, selfless intent for welfare, and opened the school in the year 2000, starting with just 28, the school now has more than 300 children enrolled till the 10th standard, and it was earlier turned into a Zila Panchayat Higher Primary School with support from local authorities and the government. Despite not having a proper house to live in and facing hardships all his life, he devoted his life’s savings and all resources he had towards children’s education. For Harekala, his mission is not finished yet; in fact, he now dreams of opening a pre-university college and adding even more schools.

For his inspiring work and remarkable contribution towards rural education, he has been recognised by the state government. Finally, the Government of India too conferred him with a Padma Shree award, the 4th highest civil honour of our country.

Many people around us, working quietly at the grassroots level, focused on their goals, with no desire for a reward or recognition, are generally ignored. Whereas an erratic pompous culture, mainly popularised by the elitists and the rich by the power of their riches, is pursued blindly, disregarding the rationale behind welfare. For us as a society, it’s high time to choose suitable role models for our young ones and give these silent heroes the appreciation and the recognition which they deserve from us and try setting a new standard of morality and righteousness.

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