On the 6th June 2017, Princeton University honoured Bunker Roy, Founder of the Barefoot College, Tilonia, Rajasthan with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws.
He is the first and only student in the history of the Doon School and St Stephens College Delhi University to have received this honour. The last Indian to have been so recognized was Nani Palkivala when he was Indian Ambassador to the United States in 1978.
“His activism and ingenuity have transformed some of India’s poorest communities, bringing them not only innovation and prosperity, but security, empowerment, self-sufficiency and hope,” University orator, Sheryl WuDunn, said during the ceremony.
Roy, an Indian social activist and educator, founded the Barefoot College in 1972. Inspired by Gandhi and galvanized to respond to the 1967 famine in India, Roy moved to the villages in Rajasthan to help rural villagers. Over the past 30 years, some 3 million Indians have developed skills in teaching, medicine, engineering, sustainable energy and crafts through Barefoot College programmes.
On dirt floors in rural villages, he trained “barefoot professionals” to serve their villages as doctors and teachers, as engineers and architects, with a curriculum that targeted necessities like clean water, power and health care, WuDunn said of Roy.
Roy has received numerous honors, including the Padma Shri (986), Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (2004): Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship(2005) . Selected one of Time magazine’s most influential people in the world (2010) Blue Planet Prize (2011) Clinton Global Citizen Award with Malala 2013.
The Barefoot Gandhian Model known the world over now has a presence in more than 80 countries and on four continents, becoming one of the largest civil society organisations in the world. The values that Roy founded the College on, remain in practice in regional centers now starting in Africa, Latin America and the Pacific Islands.
Source – Barefoot College