Devarapalli Prakash Rao is one of the three individuals from Odisha who received the honour this year. Rao, Odisha’s 59 year old person, who runs a tea stall in Buxi Bazaar area of Odisha, has been awarded with the fourth-highest civilian award in India, the Padma Shri, for his contributions in the field of social work.
Rao was always interested in reading and writing. However, his father wanted him to lend a helping hand in the tea business. Therefore, he was forced to quit school even before he could clear class X.
When his father took ill, Rao juggled between tea kettles and paying bills. Soon, running the stall became his primary job and all other dreams vanished into the background. But a fire kept burning inside him. He would look around and see small slum children running errands.
In 2000, he finally decided to act on his dream. He opened a small school ‘Asha O Ashwasana’ and convinced slum parents to send their children to his school. His school provides classes upto only Class III but after that he gets them admitted into a government school.
The humble tea-seller, who has also been an active blood donor since 1976, hopes that his award will be a lesson for millions of youth in the nation.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi met him during a visit to Cuttack in 2018, he was touched by Rao’s initiative. The prime minister even mentioned his name during a Maan Ki Baat’ address, where he praised him for taking up such an important initiative.
Rao’s life is indeed a lesson to the Youth of India. Rather than complaining about everything, Rao has contributed to the society and all his efforts have been recognized now.
Also Read List of Padma Award Winners 2019