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Retro: Walking Barefoot With Gandhi
Jamais Cascio, 27 Aug 05

In Walking Barefoot With Gandhi, Rohit Gupta gives us a lyrical discussion of the Barefoot College, an educational institution in India that teaches rural citizens (often women) to be engineers, architects, even solar power technicians. The College was founded in 1972, but proceeds from a set of ideas described by Mahatma Gandhi decades earlier. In many ways ahead of his time, Gandhi combined promotion of the welfare of the poor -- the "barefoot" -- with deep ecological principles.

The Gandhian model is somewhere between the ideal and the fantastic, for someone as wasteful as me, and if I come even close to emulating anything like that it would be a major personal success. I feel nowadays as if material objects I think I own, they own me. They make me spend more than I should, on more objects and devices that I don't need.

To explore this further, I have recently started taking long walks on the noisy streets of Bombay, although not barefoot. Traffic being what it is, I have found walking a faster medium of getting from place a to place B, provided the distance D is not too much for my feet and faster traversed with a train. Then again, I find that getting anywhere faster, unless in an emergency, helps me to no particular end.

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