49 Facts About Aruna Roy


Aruna Roy is an Indian social activist, professor, union organiser and former civil servant.


Aruna Roy is the president of the National Federation of Indian Women and founder of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan.


The family in which Aruna grew up was unconventional for their times and had a history of public service encompassing several generations.


Aruna Roy's maternal grandmother was an educated woman and was deeply involved in volunteer social work among impoverished communities.


Aruna Roy was born to an orthodox Tamil Brahmin family and had insisted on working with leprosy patients.


Aruna Roy's maternal grandfather was an engineer, who was involved in social work and wrote textbooks which he printed and distributed at his own cost to make them affordable for poorer children.


Aruna Roy was well versed in the literature of several languages and participated in musical performances with the veena.


Aruna Roy was sent to Shantiniketan and later became a lawyer by profession.


Aruna Roy participated in the Indian independence movement, became a civil servant after independence and eventually retired as the Legal Adviser for the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.


Aruna Roy was the eldest of four siblings and had two sisters and a brother.


Aruna Roy was enrolled for two years at the Kalakshetra academy in Adyar, Chennai to train in Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music.


Aruna Roy was educated at a convent school and learned French on the insistence of her parents.


Aruna Roy was then sent to the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry while her family moved to New Delhi.


Aruna Roy attended the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan till the age of 16, when she applied for and successfully enrolled at the Indraprastha College for Women.


Aruna Roy's admission was unexpected for the college faculty as she qualified at an age earlier than usual.


Aruna Roy majored in English Literature and then immediately went for a master's degree in 1965.


Aruna Roy completed her post-graduation at the University of Delhi.


Aruna Roy was able to get selected on her first attempt at the examinations and was one of only 10 women to qualify in that year.


Aruna Roy was influenced by feminism and considered joining the male dominated civil services in her father's footsteps to be a feminist choice.


Aruna Roy was sent to the National Academy of Administration for a year's course followed by a year of supervised training called probation.


Aruna Roy's batch had 100 successful candidates and the course included an intensive study of economics, law, languages and basic administration.


Aruna Roy was a part of the Union Territories cadre but was sent to Tamil Nadu for her probationary period as she knew the Tamil language.


Aruna Roy opted for and was granted a transfer to Vellore district after her supervisor in Tiruchi refused to mentor her.


Aruna Roy belonged to a Bengali family and had involved himself in social work since his time in college.


Aruna Roy changed her name to Aruna Roy after marriage.


Aruna Roy oversaw six police jurisdictions and besides her regular duties, had to manage student protests and election duty.


Aruna Roy was disillusioned with the civil services by this time.


Aruna Roy had joined the services as she saw it as a means of working for social justice within a constitutional framework, with the conviction that the provisions of the Indian Constitution, if implemented, was the correct standards for providing decent and equitable treatment to citizens.


Aruna Roy was aware before joining that there was corruption in the system but thought that it was possible to enact reform from within.


Aruna Roy describes the institution to have developed an elitist approach, with those granted promotions for liaisons with powerful politicians and being of little help to those most in need such as the poor.


Aruna Roy had consulted with her family and friends before resigning from the IAS but most of them discouraged her from doing so.


Aruna Roy had recruited many individuals from top tier educational institutions and it would later come to be known as one of India's most professional development organisations.


Aruna Roy's upbringing like, much of India's urban upper middle class, had taken place entirely in urban areas and in near complete ignorance of rural life.


Aruna Roy had come into contact with villagers during her time in the civil services but due to her position as an administrative officer, there were barriers in communication and her understanding of socioeconomic realities in the villages.


Aruna Roy herself developed a personal preference for an ascetic lifestyle reinforced by a belief in the Gandhian ideal that one must change oneself to bring change.


Aruna Roy started regarding facets such as illiteracy and lack of education as a skill disadvantage rather than that of ability or intelligence, and recognised that they had a deep knowledge in their field of occupation that others did not possess including those which are considered unskilled labour.


Aruna Roy describes Tilonia to have been her real alma mater and the villagers to be better teachers than those in Delhi and at the IAS.


In 1981, a revenue collector requested Aruna Roy to help end a labor strike in the neighbouring village of Harmara.


Aruna Roy convinced the strikers to end their protest and in the process befriended Naurti, from whom she came to learn about the effectiveness of using information in mobilising people.


In 1983, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the workers in the minimum wage case, in what was considered a landmark judgement and Aruna Roy decided to leave the Barefoot College in the same year, in search of a different platform for grassroots empowerment in rural India.


Between 1983 and 1987, Aruna Roy moved around working with various tribal and women's group in Rajasthan and neighbouring states, looking to encourage collective action.


Aruna Roy remained associated with the Barefoot College and would return to Tilonia to help out with their work from time to time.


Aruna Roy shared in with them in their sorrows and grievances, helped and supported them through personal crises and eventually engaged them in protest action, starting with issues they cared about the most, such as violence against women.


Aruna Roy demanded payment from the villagers which they were no longer willing to accept.


Aruna Roy is a leader of the Right to Information movement in India through the MKSS and the National Campaign for People's Right to Information, which was finally successful with the passage of the Right to Information Act in 2005.


Aruna Roy has been at the forefront of a number of campaigns for the rights of the poor and the marginalised.


Aruna Roy served as a member of the National Advisory Council until 2006 when she resigned.


Aruna Roy was appointed the 2016 professor of practice in global governance at McGill University, in Montreal.


In 2018, along with the MKSS collective, Aruna Roy published a book chronicling the history of the Right to Information movement in India titled The RTI Story: Power to the People.