In his first Mann Ki Baat of the year, and 73rd in total, Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Kottayam resident Rajappan, describing the latter as the protector of the Vembanad Lake. Modi maintained that Rajappan, despite the latter’s physical challenges, is doing a terrific job cleaning the lake and thus setting an example for everyone in the country.
“I was recently made aware of news from Kerala, and it should remind us all of our duties and responsibilities. There is an elderly man in Kerala, NS Rajappan. He can’t walk, but his dedication to cleanliness remains strong,” said Modi in his Mann Ki Baath speech. “For many years he has been going into the lake, collecting plastic bottles and cleaning it. Just think of how high Rajappan’s ideals are. We should take inspiration from Rajappan and do our best for cleanliness.”
Rajappan, who was afflicted by polio when he was five years old, lives of the money he earns by collecting and selling plastic bottles that are dumped in the lake. Recently, Rajappan has shot to fame on social media, where netizens had been sharing his hard work. While his cleaning up doesn’t earn much, he has been doing it for the past several years and only needs enough to live by.
He goes into the lake as early as 4 am to collect bottles and stays there until nine in the night. Despite his efforts, he sometimes collects enough for one square meal. He informed that he lives of ration, and sometimes people donate money or food. He lost his home in 2019, following the floods, and he has been staying in Manjaddikara with his sister in a dilapidated house, with barely any necessities. He had written to authorities for support, but none has shown any compassion.