• The Barefoot Padma Shri Awardees who inspire us with their simplicity


    Guwahati: President Ram Nath Kovind presented Padma awards to 119 eminent personalities at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan on November 9. Among the list are some unsung heroes who received the prestigious award with its barefoot receiving praises and admiration on social media.

    All these six Padma awardees won hearts of the millions of people with their works largely unknown till now. They received appreciation on social media platforms for their simplicity and for their traditional attire.

    Environmentalist Tulsi Gowda, orange seller Harekala Hajabba, agriculturist Rahibai Soma Popere, artist Dalavayi Chalapathi Rao,Nanda Prusty and artist Manjama Jogathi are seen barefoot, receiving India’s highest civilian awards from President Ram Nath Kovid at the Darbar Hall.

    The 72-year-old tribal activist, Tulsi Gowda, who belongs to the Halakki indigenous tribe from Karnataka, is known as ‘Encyclopedia of forests’; she never went to school but gained all her knowledge working in nurseries from a young age.

    Gowda was born to a low-income family, lost her father at the age of 2-years, has actively contributed to protecting the environment and has planted more than 30,000 saplings till now.

    Harekala Hajabba, an orange seller in Mangalore, Karnataka, dressed in a white shirt and dhoti, a barefooted man, walked towards President Ram Nath Kovind to receive the prestigious Padma Shri award. Hajabba saved money from his merged earning to build a school in his village.

    His village - Newpadapu - had no school depriving hundreds of children of proper education. Hajabba himself had no access to education, but he decided not to let children go through the suffering that he did. Today, the school has 175 students with classes up to the 10th standard.

    Rahibai Soma Popere, who won the Padma Shri for her contribution in the field of agriculture, is a tribal farmer belonging to the Mahadeo Koli community in Maharashtra. She is known as “Seed Mother”.

    Born in 1964, Popera was unable to attend school owing to poverty, so she began working as agriculture labour and cow rearing to support her family. She learned about agrobiodiversity, wild food resources, and traditional culture through practice and experience, despite not attending school.

    She received the fourth-highest civilian award wearing a traditional saree with barefoot.

    Dalavayi Chalapathi Rao is a renowned artist in leather puppetry in Ananthapur, Andhra Pradesh. The 84-year-old has won many awards for his incredible shadow puppet craft.

    Born in 1936, he began his journey in puppet-making at the age of 13 as this art is mostly a family affair. He had learnt the art from his father Khade Rao and for 40 years gave several shows, mostly on mythological themes.

    He received the award from President Ram Nath Kovind in traditional attire of dhoti and shirt at the Darbar Hall.

    102-year-old Nanda Prusty, fondly known as ‘Nanda Sir’, was conferred the Padma Shri for his contribution to education.

    Nanda has spent several decades of his life providing free education to children and adults in Jaipur in Odisha. Studied only till Class 7 owing to his family’s financial condition, he has been teaching children free of cost since Independence to eradicate illiteracy in his village.

    After receiving the fourth-highest civilian award for his efforts, Nanda Prusty raised his hands to bless President Ram Nath Kovind in the Darbar Hall.

    Manjamma Jogati, a transgender person, receives the fourth-highest civilian award, Padma Shri, for her contribution to the arts. Jogati was fifteen years old when her family threw her out of her home for being transgender. Abandoned and humiliated, she took to begging on the streets for survival. She was sexually assaulted multiple times and one day tried to end her life by drinking poison.

    Later, Jogati learnt to perform folk dance, Jogathi Nritya, for survival. She became so good at it that she became the first transgender person to be appointed as the president of the Karnataka Janapada Academy.

    Jogati, a harbinger of good luck, wished President Ram Nath Kovind luck with a unique gesture during the Padma Awards ceremony.

    All the six receivers of the fourth-highest civilian award stand as an example in the society who, through its works, said to focus on our works without searching for a result. They never do their works to get an award from the President of India or come into the spotlight. They had done all this as they thought it to be the sole responsibility of an individual to do something good for their country and its people.

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