Bunker Roy discusses the founding and mission of Barefoot College.
Bunker Roy was born in Burnpur, West Bengal where he lived for the first fourteen years of his life. His father was a mechanical engineer and his mother retired as India’s trade commissioner to Russia. Roy also had an uncle who was the first chief of air staff of the Indian Air Force and who was a great influence on him. At the age of five, Roy started attending residential boarding schools called public schools. He went to the Doon School from 1956 to 1962 and attended St. Stephen’s College from 1962 to 1967. He earned his master’s degree in English. When he left college in 1967 he gave up the life he knew and decided to live and work in the villages of Rajasthan. From 1967 to 1971 he drilled and blasted open wells for drinking water. Without programs or money to offer, Roy started Barefoot College in 1972. He lived and worked among the villagers of Tilonia as a volunteer. His motivation was to work with the poorest of the poor in an attempt to minimize poverty. Roy met his wife Aruna in 1965 and they married in 1970. Like Bunker, Aruna has been an activist all of her adult life, most recently helping to force the Indian government to pass the Right to Information Act and the National Employment Guarantee Act. The Roys have no children and live on the Barefoot College campus in Tilonia.