Bunker Roy’s Barefoot College has been doing yeoman’s work in rural India.
By Sujeet Rajan
NEW YORK: Globally renowned social entrepreneur Bunker Roy, the founder of the Barefoot College, which has been working tirelessly for the past four decades to provide basic infrastructure for power and water in rural areas of India, has been named as one of the recipients of the 7th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards, which will be presented in Manhattan on Wednesday.
Roy, who is being honored with a Leadership in Civil Society award at the meet, has been bestowed in the past few years with a plethora of awards, including being named one of the 50 environmentalists who could save the planet by the Guardian and one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine.
A former Indian national runner-up squash player who went on to represent the country in three world championships, Bunker, who studied at the Doon School and St. Stephen’s College, has done yeoman’s work in uplifting the quality of life for millions of people around the world.
The Barefoot model of community-owned, managed, and financially sustained household solar light systems has been replicated in more than 54 countries, empowering more than 600 Women Barefoot Solar Engineers and providing clean energy access to 450,000 people in nearly 1,650 communities throughout India, Africa, Latin America, the Pacific, and Asia, said President Bill Clinton in announcing the awardees this year, in New York. As a result of Barefoot’s work, one million liters of rainwater have been harvested to provide clean drinking water to over 239,000 school children in more than 1,300 communities worldwide.
Along with Roy, the UK-based Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl who is now one of the leading campaigners for girls’ rights after emerging alive from an assassination attempt by the Taliban, and Elias Taban, National Bishop, Evangelical Presbyterian Church of South Sudan and Uganda, will also be honored with the Leadership in Civil Society awards.
The honorees include New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg – who will be presented with a Leadership in Public Service award
This year, apart from the Clinton family, including the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Vice President Joe Biden, The Roots, and Elvis Costello will be among those who will present the awards, where more than 1,000 top business, government, and civil society leaders will convene to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Also making an appearance would be M. Sanjayan, lead scientist, The Nature Conservancy.
In the Leadership in the Private Sector awards, Jessamyn W. Rodriguez, Founder and CEO, Hot Bread Kitchen; Adam Lowry, Co-Founder and Chief Greenskeeper, and his colleague, Eric Ryan, Co-Founder, Method Products PBC – who make non-toxic soap and are the leading innovator in stylish and sustainable personal and home care products – would be honored.
The Clinton Global Citizen Awards, launched in 2007, has honored some of the best known personalities in their field for taking on the challenge and solving global issues.
Last year, Carlos Slim Helú, the founder of Fundación Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world, and Luis Moreno, president of Inter-American Development Bank; Denis O’Brien, chairman and founder of Digicel Group; Pepe Julian Onziema, program director and advocacy officer of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG); The Right Reverend Christopher Senyonjo, executive director of St. Paul’s Reconciliation and Equality Centre; and Katie Stagliano, founder and chief executive gardener of Katie’s Krops, were honored.