I feel immense happiness when I saw people flouting all conventional norms and doing something extraordinarily different . It gives me pleasure to write about such people. Bunker Roy can easily belong to the Baba/Baby brigade as he was educated at Doon School and later at St. Stephens College, Delhi. His grand future was all chalked out by parents and society.
Does life means draping yourself in expensive designer clothes? Eating at all the known joints? Visiting all the tourist destinations? For most of us that will be a dream life. We feel happy to feed already overfed people by indulging and copying elites. But there are some out of box thinkers. Due to their efforts humanity moves ahead.
If you want to be a solar engineering degree from Bunker Roy’s Barefoot College, your qualification is either you have to be illiterate or semi-literate. You will get extra point at admission if you are an illiterate grandmother! Honestly I am not joking. This out of box thinking belong to Bunker Roy. Bunker Roy founded Barefoot College in Ajmer, in 1972.
His out of box thinking says you won’t have to be educated to be a solar engineer. Many Indian and African grandmothers under his guidance received training to install, repair and maintain their solar units and now they are training other village women in India and Africa to be solar engineers.
He says that there are only two conditions for acceptance to the program: that the women are older than 45, and that they are illiterate.
“Once we train an illiterate woman, they never forget what they’ve learned,” says Bunker Roy. “We find that literate women tend to forget because their mind is so cluttered. With illiterate women, we find that when we visit them in their villages after a few months, they haven’t lost their knowledge.”
“We’ve found men are quite untrainable,” Bunker Roy says. “They are restless and ambitious. They want a certificate, and as soon as they get it, they move to cities looking for work. Grandmothers are not interested in a paper to hang on their walls. They stay in their communities. Also, they have the patience to be great trainers.”
Bunker Roy was selected as one of Time 100, the 100 most influential personalities in the world by TIME Magazine in 2010. He is busy to bring solar power in the rural, remote, non-electrified villages. To electrify a village he trains the villagers so that they can acquire necessary skills to look after their own power system and don’t have to depend on the outsiders from the city.