Even after setting up business empires and building bank balances running in crores, people keep looking for satisfaction of making a change. To know that you have made your surroundings and the world even slightly better is a matchless feeling which no award can ever bring. Engulfed in such pride every moment is Daripalli Ramaiah who has transformed Telangana like no government or NGO ever could. This one man has planted over a crore trees and given entirely new set of lungs to the place.
A native of Khammam district, Ramaiah believes that humans are the most exalted beings of all the species on earth. We can think and get things done. He says that nature has bestowed her choicest blessings on us and therefore it is our duty to protect and nurture nature. His efforts have been so enormous that he was recently awarded the Padmashri, India’s third highest civilian honour.
Ramaiah has spent his life on making a greener India. This 70-year-old man has planted more than one crore trees and he is unstoppable. He is popularly known as Chetla Ramaih, coming from chettu, meaning tree. Without any excuses this man has planted trees on any barren spot visible. Money, or lack of it, does not deter him from pursuing his passion.
And not just planting trees, he has read every available book on trees and in the process planted many trees in the local library premises as also the local temple. He knows the history of almost every tree there!
He was once heckled as “a mentally unstable man”. His wife Janamma recalls how locals used to make fun of him for carrying plant saplings and seeds on his bicycle. “He used to pedal several kilometres to a barren spot where he would plant saplings and sow seeds. He was confident that the area would turn green some day,” she recalls.
Be it a marriage, or a birthday, or a wedding anniversary, the couple has made it a habit of gifting saplings. “We have sold off our three-acre land to mobilise money for buying seeds and saplings,” Ramaiah says.
Ramaiah lives in a small two-bedroom house in the village. His house is like a mini museum with placards, billboards and flex banners containing slogans on the importance of tree plantation. Whenever he travels, he puts a board around his neck like a scarf with the slogan: “Vriksho Rakshati Rakshitaha” (Save trees, it will save you).
He has a purpose in life, and the satisfaction of having caused a change. After being awarded Padmashri he also has recognition – a combination that everyone strives for in their life. He has also been conferred with an honorary doctorate by the Academy of Universal Global Peace. A life so accomplished and so fulfilling is every millionaires dream. Ramaiah is a definitely a true winner.
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