Akshara Santha Harekala Hajabba
Born (1956-10-17) 17 October 1956 (age 67)
Known forSocial Service
AwardsPadma Shri (2020)

Padma Shri recipient Harekala Hajabba is an Indian social activist and orange vendor living and working in the city of Mangaluru, Karnataka, India. He saved money from his business to build a school in his village.[1] In 2020, he was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian award, for his initiative and achievement.[2][3]


Harekala Hajabba was born into a Muslim family of very modest financial means, he dropped out of school at an early age in order to earn money and contribute towards family expenses. Many years ago, when a foreign tourist asked him the price of an orange in English, he did not understand what had been said and felt embarrassed. He had not had the privilege of any kind of formal education. That day he vowed to make a school in his village, which was deprived of school. He kept part of his savings from selling oranges, to start a school in his village, Newpadapu.[4][5] He was able to start a small school. Today, the school, which has grown with government support and donations from private individuals, is known as Hajabba School. He is affectionately known as 'Akshara Santa' (letter-saint).[6] He is known for the extraordinary contribution he made, despite his own relatively constrained circumstances, to the cause of education in his native village.[7][8] Hajabba's next dream is to build a Pre-University college in his village.[9]

Recognition and honours


  1. ^ Sachin, Aswathy. "School Built by an Orange Seller : Story of Harekala Hajabba". Fantoosy.com. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Padma Awards 2020 Announced". pib.gov.in.
  3. ^ The Hindu Net Desk (26 January 2020). "Full list of 2020 Padma awardees". The Hindu.
  4. ^ "Mangalore: DC releases book on Harekala Hajabba, says he deserves Padma Shri". Daijiworld.com. Archived from the original on 19 June 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Book highlights Hajabba's school saga". Thehindu.com. 28 June 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  6. ^ "Harekala Hajabba in hard times". Coastaldigest.com. 27 February 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Hajabba opens a high school in his village". Thehindu.com. 15 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  8. ^ "One man's orange revolution: Harekala Hajabba". Deccanchronicle.com. 1 January 2015. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Karnataka: Hajabba hopes Padma award will help realize PU college dream for Harekala | Mangaluru News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  10. ^ "Life of Harekala Hajabba comes as lesson to Mangalore University students". Coastaldigest.com. 7 July 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Harekala Hajabba's life as a lesson in Mangalore University syllabus". TwoCircles.net. 9 July 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  12. ^ Pandey, Vikas (12 November 2012). "Unlettered fruit-seller's Indian education dream - BBC News". Bbc.com. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
  13. ^ "A fruit seller builds a high school". Thehindu.com. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2015.