• Rayan Shikari

From Selling Tea To Enriching Lives

Service to mankind is service to god. That’s what drove 62-year-old Devarapalli Prakash Rao, to render services of different kinds to society. Known as the man who went from a tea-seller to a hero, Devarapalli Prakash Rao, donated fifty percent of his profits for the education of slum children. Living in Cuttack, Odisha, this chai-wala donated his revenues towards the education for the children of daily-wagers, rickshaw pullers, and other people who cannot afford basic education for their children, for the past 18 years. However, his efforts were never noticed, until finally Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself noticed Mr. Rao and addressed him in the 44th edition of his radio broadcast “Mann ki Baat.” Rao’s efforts went beyond just helping out students, and he single-handedly toiled to carve out a three-kilometer long canal, to bring mountain water to irrigate one hundred acres of land. Since 1978, he has also donated blood over 200 times and platelets seven times.


The school started by Mr. Rao is called Asha O Ashwasana, which means Hope and Assurance, Rao ensured these children do not get pulled away by crimes and alcohol, and instead concentrate on education. Despite not being encouraged by his father to pursue studies, Rao never stopped helping the young minds around him to get a proper education. Mr. Devarapalli Rao, who had quit school due after passing Class X due to poverty, is now an inspiration to many. Besides, he has a strong command over eight different languages and helps other children along on their journey to gain knowledge.


Mr. Rao in an interview with the Times of India, says that the thing that motivated him most was that he spent his childhood in penury. He never got the chance to go to school, since he was required to help his father at the tea-stall. He would occasionally go to school in a week, but because of his lack of attendance, the headmaster would reprimand him and would not let him sit for classes. As a result, he gained the respect for knowledge that he believes every single human being should have. Besides this, Mr. Rao also learned the importance of time management which he also believes is an essential skill in the fast-moving world that we are in today. He has built a routine that he follows up to every second and he says that it is what has made him successful today.

Lastly, Devarapalli Rao truly is an inspiration because he teaches us the importance of dedication. His love for teaching has also been accompanied by his love for football, and he says that he is a huge fan of European football and he religiously watches the leagues. He understands the importance of giving back to society, while also not sacrificing time to do the things that he loves doing. His love for education inspired him to also educate both his daughters and after saving money for years, he finally managed to also send her to Australia to do her masters in Hotel Management. It will be a lesson to youth who dream of becoming big personalities. If you put in your best efforts to continue doing your duty, the world will recognize you one day, he concluded.

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