PM Modi with Padma Shri D Prakash Rao and a group of school children at Cuttack in 2018
PM Modi with Padma Shri D Prakash Rao and a group of school children at Cuttack in 2018
Photo via @narendramodi on Twitter

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday (January 13) expressed his grief over the death of Cuttack-based tea vendor and social activist Padma Shri D Prakash Rao, who passed away today at the age of 63 after a 20-day-long battle with COVID-19-related ailments.

Prime Minister Modi, who had once recognised the humble tea sealler in his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat', said that D Prakash Rao's "outstanding work" will continue to motivate people.

For the uninitiated, Rao had dedicated his life to the education and upliftment of the downtrodden and orphaned children in the slum areas of the city.

The Prime Minister had also met the sexagenerian during his 2018 visit to Odisha, where he had hailed the humble tea-sellers relentless efforts in educating the poor children in the slum areas of the city, free of cost.

In his tweet today, Modi once again lauded Rao's efforts to use education as a "vital means to empowerment" and recalled his meeting with the social workers in Cuttack a few years back. The Prime Minister expressed condolences to Rao's family and admirers.

"Saddened by the demise of Shri D Prakash Rao. The outstanding work that has done will continue motivating people. He rightly saw education as a vital means to empowerment. I recall my meeting with him in Cuttack a few years ago. Condolences to his family and admirers. Om Shanti," Prime Minister Modi tweeted, along with a photo of his meeting with the humble tea-seller.

Rao had been named by Prime Minister Modi during a chapter of his radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat', where he had likened him to the spirit of a lamp that leads the way to light amid the darkness, referring to his tireless efforts in guiding deprived children towards enlightenment.

In 2019, Rao was conferred the prestigious Padma Shri puraskar, the fourth-highest civilian award in India, for his contributions.

He breathed his last at 4:15 PM on Wednesday at Cuttack's SCB Medical College and Hospital.

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