Bunker Roy

Bunker Roy

Sanjit 'Bunker' Roy is the founder of Barefoot College, which operates with the mission to provide basic services and solutions in rural communities with the objective of making them self-sufficient. As he says, Barefoot College is "a place of learning and unlearning: where the teacher is the learner and the learner is the teacher." 

Founded in 1972 in the village of Tilonia in Rajasthan, India, Barefoot College is the only college in India where traditional knowledge and practical skills of the poor are given more importance and priority than paper degrees or qualifications. Its “barefoot solutions” can be broadly categorized into solar energy, water, education, health care, rural handicrafts, people’s action, communication, women’s empowerment and wasteland development. The education program teaches literacy and skills in a "learning-by-doing" style. The organization has also trained grandmothers from Africa and the Himalayan region to be solar engineers so they can bring electricity to their remote villages. In the 20 years that the community based Barefoot approach has been implemented in over 30 developing countries, a total of 36,000 houses in 1,024 villages have been solar electrified by nearly 300 rural grandmothers.

Roy received his formal education in The Doon School and St. Stephens College Delhi University, though he states his “real” education started when he dug open wells for drinking water as an unskilled labourer for 5 years. He was identified as one of the 50 environmentalists who could save the planet by The Guardian in 2008 and as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2010.

“Roy's idea is that India and Africa are full of people with skills, knowledge and resourcefulness who are not recognised as engineers, architects or water experts but who can bring more to communities than governments or big businesses.” — The Guardian

Watch Bunker Roy on Ted Talks