Category Archives: Unsung Heroes

Unsung Hero : Ravi Katapady

Ravi Katapady

Unsung Hero

Ravi Katapady

Name Ravi Katapady
Place Udupi
Career Mason

True Hero: A Costumed Man in Udupi Raises ₹14 Lakh to Save 16 Children!

By painting his body and donning different ‘Vesha’ during the grand celebration of Sri Krishna Janmashtami for the last four years, Ravi Katapady has been collecting money for underprivileged children in need of corrective surgery in Udupi. Such is the story of Ravi Katapady, a daily-wage labourer, who collects money for underprivileged children in need of corrective surgery in the temple town of Udupi.

He does this by painting his body and donning different ‘Vesha’ during the grand celebration of Sri Krishna Janmashtami every year, in the temple town. Ravi, who is a mason by profession, also used to be part of this vibrantly dressed troupe, until he came across the story of a baby with a dysfunctional hand that quite literally drove him to tears four years ago. Upon enquiring with the parents, he found that Anvitha had lost the functionality of her right hand at the time of her birth, due to negligence on the doctor’s part.

“Seeing a child as young as her who is unable to use her own arm, tore me apart. The parents told me that her hand could be fixed through surgery costing about ₹1.15 lakh, which was much beyond the limits of their financial ability. That’s when I thought I could do something”, Ravi told The Better India. He offered to pay for the surgery through his costumed acts at the festival, which the little one’s parents gratefully agreed.

Conferring with his friend, who is an artist, on different costume ideas that would appeal to children, Ravi finally zeroed in on Faun, one of the characters that appeared in the film, Pan’s Labyrinth. While his effort deserves applause of its own, his costumes are worthy of praise in themselves. Such was realistic of his guise, which he managed to collect the entire amount for baby Anvitha’s surgery, the success of the initiative made him grateful to god that he could make a difference in a person’s life and decided that he would continue to don costumes if it could make lives of children better.


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Unsung Hero : Narayan Murthy


Unsung Hero

Narayan Murthy

Name Narayan Murthy
Place Bangalore
Career Indian Army

Every morning, while heading to work or elsewhere, most of us are met with an unfortunate urban reality—Traffic. Even if we plan and time the commute, it feels like every hour is rush hour. Amidst the cacophony of vehicle horns, frustrated curses uttered by commuters and toxic fumes, we often miss out on those few individuals who work long and tiresome hours to make our journey more secure. Emerging from the crowd in a pair of khaki pants, a white shirt, a helmet, gloves and a neon-green vest, he encourages commuters to calmly follow traffic rules so that they can reach their destination, safe and sound. A former army man, Captain Murthy has been voluntarily clearing traffic on Bannerghatta main road—one of Bengaluru’s busiest roads—for the past 11 years. “I joined the Indian Army in 1959, and from the very beginning, my work revolved around saving lives.

Once I retired, I volunteered to help out the traffic officials here. It all began with helping elders and children cross the road, and soon, I was placed at the major junctions to properly lead the traffic. Roads across the country are every driver’s worst nightmare, and I am doing my bit to help them. I don’t consider this to be very different from what I was doing earlier”, shares Captain Murthy with The Better India.
A celebrated soldier, he was involved in several high-profile operations, like the Goa Liberation (1961) and the Sino-Indian War (1962).

After his 15-year-long service in the army was complete, he joined the International Airports Authority (currently known as the Airports Authority of India) and worked there from 1974 to 1980. Recognizing his contribution to the society, the Karnataka State Government awarded him the Kempegowda Award in 2011. However, his multifaceted efforts continue to be mainly of the common radar. “I don’t work to gain fame or money but to make my life more meaningful. I believe that every individual, at some point in his or her life, needs to own up this responsibility and dedicate the best efforts and resources to serve the society in any way possible,” he says before signing off.


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Unsung Hero : Madan Yadav

Unsung Hero

Madan Yadav

Name Madan Yadav
Place Bihar
Career Tutor

No Roads or Electricity, but the School in this village is in Excellent Condition. Thanks to One Man. Badwankala, a small village in Bihar, is located 1,500 feet above sea level. This hilltop village has no electricity, water and even connectivity to the main road. It was only a few months ago that the first vehicles started reaching this place, otherwise there was no other way to get here but to walk. Most people in this remote area haven’t even stepped out of the village their entire lives. But there is a man here who runs a school where students recite English poems, excel academically, and are dressed like private school students.

“Our village is just like what it was when the country became independent. We are stuck in 1947. There are no facilities. Can you believe that people here have not even seen a train in their entire lives?” asks Madan.

Madan completed his primary education in Badwankala and then went off to a school located 20 km far from the village. After completing intermediate college, he worked as a school teacher in a private school for five years. But the sad state of education in his own village kept haunting him. “There is literally no facility in our village. We have to walk at least a kilometre to fetch water. There is no electricity and there are no roads. I do not have words to explain the misery of the residents here. I contacted the government officials so many times but no action was taken by them,” says Madan. “The condition of the school was terrible. It was started in 1953 but hardly anyone went to the school. I opened the locks and took charge,” he recalls.

He started spreading the awareness about education in the village and asked people to send their kids to school. To better the facilities and attract more students, he made the best possible use of the government’s Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. Free books, uniforms, mid-day meals. and financial incentives were part of the programme and Madan utilised them to the full.

“Around 500 students from two nearby villages come to attend the school. I try my best to teach them too, but I cannot do everything. We need more teachers and facilities, at least to draw village children to the school” he says. “There are only six rooms here. We need at least four more to accommodate the students. Also, the playground’s boundary wall is broken. We need to repair that and fix the ground, which is uneven and students sometimes hurt themselves while playing. We are not asking much from the government. All we want is some more teachers and more rooms, as we are not able to manage 500 students in such tiny premises. When the country is progressing so much, it hurts me to see this region being neglected. Don’t these people have the right to lead a better life?” asks Madan.


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Unsung Hero : Lakshmi Narayan J

Unsung Hero

J Lakshmi Narayan

Name J Lakshmi Narayan
Place Chennai
Career Working in Housekeeping Department

For 3 Years Now, The Chennai Folks Have Been Cleaning the Streets for Free!

The mountains of garbage festering on the streets of India are not just an eyesore but also an open breeding ground for deadly diseases. Sadly, this is a common sight in many economically weak neighbourhoods in cities, because they are more often than not ignored by municipal bodies and workers.

What is worse is that even the people living in such neighbourhoods have become used to being surrounded by waste, and existing in the extremely unsanitary environment, because they feel that there isn’t much that can be done on their part.

However, J Lakshmi Narayan, who has been working in the housekeeping department at Mayor Ramanathan Hall, MRC Nagar for over a decade, was always bothered with the sight of a resident of Mylapore’s Veerabadran Street. Lakshmi Narayan was drawn to the cause of social work and often took up cleaning activities like burying the corpses of street animals and birds during his teenage days—something which typically fails to elicit any reaction from most people. He is trash piling up on the streets of Chennai.

A true altruist, Lakshmi Narayan also helps out the local traffic police in busy areas like Mambalam and Koyembedu by volunteering to manage the ongoing influx of traffic and has been doing so for the past 15 years.

“I was quite content with the little difference that I was making without any publicity. But the issue of the garbage-strewn streets kept gnawing at me, and I wanted to do something to change the situation,” says Lakshmi Narayan to The Better India. Lakshmi Narayan believes that the effort to tackle the never-ending crisis of waste has to begin from one’s own home and only then can it be extended anywhere beyond.


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Unsung Hero : Goutham Kumar

Unsung Hero

Goutham Kumar

Name Goutham Kumar
Place Hyderabad
Career Corporate employee

“This Corporate Professional Quits his Job to Ensure that Nobody in his City Goes Hungry or Homeless”

A former corporate employee, Goutham Kumar realized that his true calling lay in serving humanity. Meet the man who is changing lives in Hyderabad.”Nobody should have to go hungry” says Goutham who left behind a lucrative profession to serve the greater good.

Having worked for a number of companies across the country, including Expedia, Goutham switched to work with full-time NGOs in Hyderabad five years ago. “I started my NGO because I wanted to serve others,” he says. “But I wanted it to be my profession, not a passion to be followed just once or twice a week. I was sure that this would be my sole purpose.” Recruiting the help of family members and well-wishers, Goutham set up Serve Needy in 2014 to assist the impoverished and homeless in the city.

Recovering leftovers to feed the hungry, better known as the Anna Daatha programme, is just one of the 14 projects Goutham is presently involved in.

Goutham and his family members, as well as four employees, work with an ever-increasing team of volunteers to aid the poor and homeless. They offer aid for cancer patients—including alternative medicine and birthday parties—at Hyderabad’s MNJ Cancer Hospital and Basawatarakam Hospital.They aid government schools, fix pot holes, identify and rescue mentally challenged individuals and even pets from the streets. Serve Needy’s special birthday parties in schools, hospitals and old age homes have garnered such a fan following that Goutham even receives special requests from sponsors.


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Unsung Hero : Shyam Bihari Prasad

Shyam Bihari Prasad

Unsung Hero

Shyam Bihari Prasad

Name Shyam Bihari Prasad
Place Delhi
Career Retired Assistant General Manager

Meet ‘Uncle’ Shyam Bihari Prasad, a Retired Assistant General Manager from BSNL Patna who teaches kids on a pavement in Vasant Kunj, Delhi.It all started during the cold winter months of 2013 when he shifted to Vasant Kunj in New Delhi to live with his daughter.This elderly gentleman would visit the Hanuman temple near his home every morning, where he would often see several children standing outside, begging the devotees for prasad. One morning, ‘Uncle’ (as he is called by everyone), gave his share of prasad to a child. On another day, he bought biscuits from the shop near the temple gate for a few other children also.

“All these children have working parents who lock up their homes when they go to work. They have to leave their kids outside to fend for themselves. Classes in the local government school start only at 10 am, so these kids beg for food outside the temple before going to school,” says Prasad.

On interacting with the kids, Prasad learnt more about their school and different classes the children attended. He also asked them some basic questions and realized they had no grasp of simple concepts in science and maths, nor any knowledge of spelling and writing in English and Hindi. One morning, he asked some of the children if they would like to study. On receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, he promised to meet them on the pavement outside the temple the next day at 8 am.

“On rainy and cold days, when it is difficult to sit in the open, we move into the temple premises. Nothing stops Uncle from taking classes,” say Pavitra and Anjali, Class VI students at the local government school.

“These children did not know how to sit or talk properly earlier. They would use abusive language to communicate with each other. Today, they have changed and help each other with studies,” says a proud Prasad.

Shyam Bihari Prasad has turned the lives of many of these children around. They are doing well in their school exams and are spending happy and fruitful mornings instead of begging on the street.


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