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Author, Diplomat and Former Governor, WB
Founder Director, The Barefoot College Tilonia
Chairperson, DASTKAR
Co-founder, Handloom Futures Trust

Date & Time

Fri, 18 Nov 2022 6:00 pm Sun, 20 Nov 2022 8:00 pm


Bangalore International Centre
7, 4th Main Road, Domlur II Stage
Bangalore, Karnataka 560071 India

Working for a Better World | Gopalkrishna Gandhi in Conversation With Bunker Roy
Nov 18 | Friday | 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Gopal Gandhi, former Governor West Bengal and Bunker Roy, founder Barefoot College Tilonia, have had different journeys but shared principles, united by a common struggle for peace and justice. Gopal Gandhi has been Ambassador and High Commissioner of India in South Africa, Sri Lanka and Norway and Director Nehru Centre in London. He is an admired public intellectual of eminence; a scholar, writer, columnist, academic. Bunker Roy, recognized for his work as a development practitioner, fostered a dialogue between rural and urban India from Tilonia, a village in Rajasthan where he lived and worked. The Barefoot College has attracted international attention to the concept of barefoot women solar engineers popularly known as “solar mamas” that encouraged rural women from 96 of the least developed countries, come to Tilonia, to train.
The  conversation will give us a glimpse into development with and for people, seen from two perspectives, but with a common objective

Performances – A Puppet Show, Music & More | Barefoot Artistes
Nov 19 | Saturday | 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

A storytelling of Tilonia’s 50 years, with music, puppetry and conversations presented by Tilonia’s well-known Barefoot communicators. They have performed in northern India and traveled to Norway and UK, and have contributed seminally to a blending of traditional skills with development, crafting a lexicon of song, theatre and puppetry. They will be joined by alumni:  Shankar Singh, who pioneered the concept of barefoot communication, along with Ramlal, a traditional puppeteer. Shankar later became the co-founder of the MKSS, where  the repertoire of songs became synonymous with  the campaign for the RTI . Ramlal is now a recognised communicator who lives in, and works from, Dehradun. The present team comprises Ramnivas, who is a lyricist,  actor, puppet-maker and performer, along with  traditional communicators Satyanarain, Ramlal, Moti and Hemnath.
They will lead the conversation with a history of Tilonia’s 50 years, in a magical adaptation of traditional methods within a contemporary context.

The Politics of Craft | Laila Tyabji, Uzramma & Aruna Roy in Conversation
Nov 20 | Sunday | 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Indian handicrafts and handlooms have always enjoyed prestige, augmented through the popularization of khadi as a symbol combining the economics of self-reliance with the politics of freedom. Today, artisans along with their craft are pitted against a backdrop of changing consumer preference, availability of cheaper alternatives and/or access to bigger brands. The present challenges concern livelihoods, raw materials, credit and markets, aggravated by the COVID 19 pandemic. Laila Tyabji and Uzramma, who have had a lifetime of experience in groundwork with artisans of rural India, will lead the conversation.

LailaTyabji is one of the founders of Dastakar who has continually worked for the revival of traditional crafts in India and is credited with revolutionizing the craft industry by developing a market for Indian crafts as well as modernizing the artisans’ skills. Uzramma has been involved for over twenty-five years in issues connected with the growing, spinning and weaving of cotton, advocating small-scale, dispersed and diverse production chains that can be owned and managed by producers themselves. She founded Dastkar Andhra Trust and the Malkha Trust. Aruna Roy, an alumnus of Tilonia, Barefoot College set up theTilonia Bazaar in 1975, one of the first bazaars to interface crafts and crafts – persons with their urban buyers and introduce the concept of a­­n urban ‘haat’.  She is currently a socio-political activist, associated with the Right to Information and MGNREGA campaigns; a founder member of the MazdoorKisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), the School for Democracy and NCPRI.

These talks will also be accompanied by an exhibition of various craft items.

Presented by:


Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Author, Diplomat and Former Governor, WB

Gopalkrishna Gandhi read English Literature and History at Delhi University. He has been in administrative positions in Tamil Nadu and in Delhi, as a member of the Indian Administrative Service. He was secretary to the Vice President of India (1985-1987), Joint Secretary to the President of India (1987-1992) and Secretary to the President of India (1997-2000). He was High Commissioner for India in South Africa, Lesotho, Sri Lanka, and Ambassador of India in Norway and Iceland. He was Governor of West Bengal from 2004 to 2009. He received the Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan Award of the University of Mysore in 2016, the Lal Bahadur Shastri Award in 2016 and the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award in 2018. Gopalkrishna Gandhi is Distinguished Professor of History and Politics at Ashoka University, Sonepat.

Bunker Roy

Founder Director, The Barefoot College Tilonia

In 1967, a young man from Delhi University, bothered by his privilege, dreamt of starting the Barefoot College of learning-by-doing for the rural poor. With a rural friend he journeyed to Tilonia, a village in Ajmer District, Rajasthan. A unique place where learning and unlearning defined the importance and relevance of indigenous knowledge, skills and wisdom. This exchange led to an understanding that rural and urban knowledge need to connect to solve basic problems of livelihood and skills. The impact of Barefoot College’s collective journey to share and demonstrate on the ground, was first in India and then in the world.

Laila Tyabji

Chairperson, DASTKAR

Laila Tyabji is Chairperson & founder member of DASTKAR, an NGO working with Crafts & Craftspeople in 25 states all over India. Laila’s work with artisans includes the chikan workers of SEWA Lucknow, Lambani tribals in Karnataka, and ari, sozni, mirror-work, and kantha craftswomen in Kashmir, Kutch, Bihar & Bengal. Many of her most rewarding projects involve creating new livelihood avenues through craft for pastoral & marginalised rural communities – bonded labour in Bihar, displaced villages in Ranthambhore, tribals in Orissa and victims of insurgency in Kashmir. Laila studied art in Baroda & Japan, and has worked as a freelance designer in textiles, graphics, interiors and theatre. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2012.


Co-founder, Handloom Futures Trust

Uzramma has been involved for over twenty-five years in issues connected with the growing, spinning and weaving of cotton, advocating small-scale, dispersed and diverse production chains that can be owned and managed by producers
themselves. She has worked with cotton handloom weaver cooperatives in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states of India, helping to set up systems of management and marketing. Among the NGOs founded by Uzramma is the Dastkar Andhra Trust, the Decentralised Cotton Yarn Trust and the Malkha Trust. She is also a co-founder of the Handloom Futures Trust.

Aruna Roy


Aruna Roy is a social activist. She was in the Indian Administrative Service from 1968 to 1975. She resigned in order to work with peoples issues. She is a founder and working member of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) since 1990. Aruna Roy is a prominenet member of many campaigns, including the NCPRI, Pension Parishad, PUCL, NAPM etc. She played a key role in incorporating strong citizens entitlements in the recently enacted Right to Information and National Rural Employment Guarantee Acts. She is also the President of National Federation of Indian Women with over one million members, for the second term. She was a member of the NAC in both its terms. She was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by the TIME Magazine for 2011.