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Dilip Kumar

Cuttack: Eminent social worker Padma Shri D Prakash Rao passed away at the SCB Medical College and Hospital here on Wednesday after 20 day long battle with Covid-19 and related ailments. He was 63.

Rao breathed his last at 4.15 pm today at the special Covid ward of the state-run premier health centre, SCB Emergency Officer Dr Bhubanananda Maharana informed reporters.

He will be cremated with full state honours at Kaliaboda crematorium in the city tomorrow, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced while expressing grief over the sad demise of Rao.

A team of doctors led by the head of the Department of Medicine Prof Jayant Panda was looking after him since his health condition started deteriorating. He was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) in the Covid ward.

Rao was hospitalised in December last year following difficulties in breathing. Later, he tested positive for Covid-19.

He was conferred with the prestigious Padma Shri award in 2019 by the Government of India for his contribution towards boosting the value of education among slum and orphan kids in Cuttack.

A tea seller all his life, Rao ran a small school in Buxi Bazaar area in Cuttack and had been providing education to the slum children free of cost.

He became a household name after recognition by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his tireless efforts in educating the poor children in slum area.

Rao has dedicated his life and whole earning towards the education of poor and deprived children. The humble tea seller found a mention in the PM’s radio talk show, ‘Mann Ki Baat’ where the PM said that Rao embodied the spirit of ‘Tamaso mā jyotir gamaya’ which means, ‘From darkness, lead me to light.’

The Prime Minister likened him to a lamp (diya) which guides underprivileged kids to the path of enlightenment.

During his visit to Odisha, PM Modi had met the sexagenerian and applauded his efforts.

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