In the Padma awards functions held this week, the spotlight was on the unsung heroes and four recipients who went barefoot to the ceremony. It goes without saying that they had drawn much praise and admiration on social media.
To begin with, 72- year old Environmentalist Tulsi Gowda, orange seller Harekala Hajabba, agriculturist Rahibai Soma Popere and artist Dalavayi Chalapathi Rao are seen in viral images walking barefoot and receiving India’s highest civilian awards from President Ram Nath Kovind. “They are barefoot, but have the Padma Shri in their hands,” wrote filmmaker and activist Ashok Pandit in an appreciation post, sharing images of all four and tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The 72-year-old tribal activist from Karnataka is known as an “encyclopaedia of forests”. Though, she never went to school but gained all her knowledge working in government nurseries from a young age. She hails from Halakki indigenous tribe in Uttara Kannada.
Harekala Hajabba, an orange seller in Mangalore, Karnataka, saved money to build a school in his village. He is known as a “Saint of Letters”. It has been reported that he felt impelled to do so because for years, he could not even afford footwear for himself.
Rahibai Soma Popere, who won the Padma Shri for her contribution to agriculture, is known as “Seed Mothers. She is a tribal farmer who belongs to the Mahadeo Koli community in Maharashtra.