JAIPUR: The Barefoot College in Tilonia, Ajmer, has managed a place among the top six from
across the world for the $2.2-million Zayed Future Energy prize to be announced on January
18 during the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. The college is the only finalist from
India for the biggest energy prize in the world that recognises outstanding work in renewable
energy and sustainability.
The six finalists were selected from 391 entries from 69 countries based on criteria of long-term
vision, innovation and leadership. The winner will receive $1.5 million which is more than the
Nobel Prize award money while the two runner-ups will receive up to $350,000.
The jury is led by R K Pachauri, the 2007 Nobel peace prize laureate and chairman of the
Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) while other members of the jury,
include ?lafur Ragnar Grimsson, president of the Republic of Iceland;Khaled Irani, minister of
energy and mineral and Susan Hockfield, president, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Barefoot College, that started about 40 years ago by Bunker Roy, is the only fully solarelectrified college in the world. It is one of the few colleges built and managed by the poor. It
gives less importance to paper degrees and more to traditional knowledge, village skills and
practical wisdom. It is the only college in India where a P.hD or a M.Sc is a disqualification for
getting into it. Currently the college is training illiterate rural mothers and grandmothers from
remote, rural and inaccessible villages of the world, specially from Africa, for making them
These women undergo a six month training at the college to make solar lamps and repair
them so that they can go back to their remote villages and light them up. Over 150
grandmothers between ages 40 and 60 have solar electrified nearly 10,000 houses in over 100
villages spread over 30 countries since 2004. The training is imparted without using written or
spoken word only through a combination of sight, sound and colour and is supported by
ministry of external affairs, the Small Grants Programme of the UNDP and Skoll Foundation
in San Francisco.
The $2.2-million Zayed Future Energy Prize, now in its third year, has been named after
Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan al Nahyan, founding father of the United Arab Emirates. The prize
aims to inspire the next generation of global energy innovators to create solutions for the