Towards Prosperity

A core tenet of Auroville is the concept of Prosperity. Shortly defined it is an “unwritten contract” that states that when joining and offering you work to Auroville and its development, Auroville would in return take care of your basic needs, including housing.

As we all know this has been difficult to achieve and we are still far away from it.
A certain number of conditions have to be fulfilled before it can happen.

Work. The work we give to Auroville should benefit the collective, by developing Auroville towards its goal as a City, by growing food or making products for Auroville needs, or for exchange with other things the community needs, or in service and management. If too many are focused only on their own interest or development, it becomes difficult for Auroville to “honour the contract”.

Auroville needs to be able to provide work opportunities, not only in services but also in income generation units, so Auroville can make use of offered work in a way that benefits the community and provides an outcome that will allow Auroville to provide prosperity to all.

Food. After many years and a lot of effort Auroville is very far from being self-supporting with food. And we have to acquire a lot of food items from outside. If we could raise the production on a large scale, not only producing the food products for our own needs, but more so we could exchange for the food we can’t grow, it would be a huge step towards Auroville’s possibility for covering the basic food needs for Aurovilians.

Basic needs. Auroville can only make a part of what is needed to cover basic needs. Many things, like bikes, petrol, electricity, mobile, internet and many other things we obviously can not produce ourselves. We need to produce other items we can use to acquire what we need. Auroville economy and production capacity has to be large enough to cover this part of basic needs.

To make sure that we acquire the products we need in an efficient way, a procurement service is a must. Now a complex, fragmented way of buying a large number of different items is very inefficient and costly. An effort is on the way for a Procurement service, taking care of buying all for basic needs. Together with a plan to link all major “buyers” , outlets, restaurants, bakeries, etc with a data system keeping track of buying needs, combined with a professional service to procure-“buy” the best products at best cost, we would be able to get our basic needs covered in the best economical way.

Scale of economy. Right now the scale of our Economy only allows us to provide basic maintenance to a little more than half of Aurovilians. And many are not satisfied with the level of basic maintenance. So we need a large scale up just to be able to give basic maintenances to existing Aurovilians. For future growth and more people, another large scale up of the economy is needed.

This will need a focus of expanding our income from existing income generating units, as well as nurturing startups. This will require a serious support system for units, in management and access to finance. But without this growth Auroville will never be able to provide prosperity. Prosperity has to be self generated, we cannot expect any donor to support this.

Housing. A chapter of prosperity we have never really entered is the housing part. It has more or less been left to each new aurovilian to solve this by themselves. This has to change. Housing has to become part of the maintenance system.

Newcomers financing their “own” house creates a strong ownership and “reselling” houses when moving houses, just prolongs this problem. Only giving access to people with “deep pockets” leaves young dynamic people being unable to join.
Going forward, we need to find finance to build larger “social housing” where newcomers can get a place to stay and part of their maintenance will be a housing component, that will be able to take care of the cost of housing, building cost as well as maintenance.

If we are able to find solutions to these conditions, we would be able to move towards a general prosperity system. FAMC is committed to find solutions to these issues.

Violence in its many forms

Dear friends

I consider myself as pacifist, and are trying to avoid any violence in thoughts and actions.

I have been working in many high tension areas and war zones, and I think I know violence in all its many forms, from the silent, to the verbal to the physical. Everybody tend to focus only on the last, but all forms are violence, and the physical only comes after the first ones. Some people feel fine being very verbally violent as long as they refrain for letting it become physical – but it is the same.

One small early life experience made a huge impact on me. As a young student, I was very outspoken and had a good sharp tongue, and often made fun of people and situations. One evening after having made fun of many people, I was passed up by a big strong guy. He gripped my collar, and said that if I continued making fun of him, he would beat me up. He said I was good with words, and he was not, but I used the words as weapons. HIs only weapon was his physical strength, and he would use it if I continued. His logic hit me very deep, and still do. There is no real difference between verbal violence and physical violence.

I love Auroville and Auroville is my home. But I never seen Auroville as a very peaceful place, despite our spiritual aspirations. Many other cultures and communities I have experienced, are far more peaceful! The way we interact and communicate is pretty harsh. I normally stay out of Auronet as I find it a very violent space. 

I really hope we can step back from entering into physical violence here in Auroville, but would like to remind people that we should also try to lower our non-physical violence. The way we communicate, the way we block each other, the way we refer to each other. To me it is often very violent and uncomfortable. I hope that we can learn from this conflict, and reflect on our way of collaborating and communicating

A larger perspective

Dear Friends

We are all focused on the events taking place right now.

But they are all part of a much larger perspective. It seems to be a conflict  between two different groups in Auroville, but this has been a conflict going on for many years, and nobody has taken any new action. The action comes from the new Governing Board and the Secretary,

I would really want all fellow aurovilians to read very carefully two documents:

The Foundation Act (ready available on Auronet under References)

Last Minutes of The new Governing Board first meeting (posted on Auronet by Working Committee)

The Foundation act is a very precise document stating the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders. Everything in Auroville belongs to the Foundation and all structures and decisions are under the acceptance of Foundation?governing Board and Secretary. Our Residence Assembly as well as Working Committe basically only have an advisory function. The final say and control is with Governing Board and Secretary.

I think a lot of Aurovilians are under an illusion that Auroville is a kind of Independent “state” within India with full autonomy. It i for sure not the reality. Our self-governance is given to us from Governing Board and Government of India, on a purely trust basis, and can anytime be revoked.

As a foreigner living in Auroville, I am very grateful for India to allow this International Township to exist. I dont think any other nation would allow it, for sure not my own country, Denmark. And I also fully understand that the condition is not autonomy, but a self-governance given in kind and trust.

So before any aurovilian think about fightning the decisions of Governing Board and Secretary, they should first read the Foundation Act, and plaease also read the minutes of last Governing Board Meeting.

The governing Board meeting is a very clear, surgical analysis, of all problems in Auroville, divided into sectors. And with clear proposals and decision what the Governing Board intends to do. The Crown road is a very small part of this – I repeat a very small part of this!

I will ask you to think back few years. The previous Governing Board, trying to solve the growning problems of Aurovilles dysfunctionality and stagnation. We had our large Retreat, which was a beautiful process ( And I would again like to thank Aroma Revi for his large effort) which brough us all closer, but after the process all was blocked and energy disappeared. 

Meanwhile we had all our bad press with allegations of corruption and misuse of power in Auroville, whis ended up as a serious case in Ministry of Human Ressources, where Auroville is under. So when same ministry had to appoint a full new Governing Board as well as secreatary, I am sure that they were asked to look very carefully into Auroville and its affairs.

So is any of us was appointed to these jobs, we would first, really carefully, read the Foundation acts as well as all the files, including all the Governing Board Meeting notes, which clearly describes the growing dysfunctionality of Auroville. The Foundation act clearly outlines the responsibility of The Governing Board, its members, as well as the Secretary. Besides to keep everything in order and legally correct ( which is another challenge), it is to implement the Master Plan. The new Governing Board members as well as new Secretary of course take their job seriously, so the minutes from forst board meeting, can notb really be a surprise to anyone. And action will of course come accordingly. And Crown road is still just a very small part of this.

Our previous Chairman, Karan Singh, had given us a very long line, adding to the “belief” that we had kind of autonomy. But I ask all to read his message to Auroville, just published, saying that all aurovilians should consider carefully the actions in the last decade, and be aware of the Hammer of God!

So to all my fellow aurovilians, please be fully aware of our situation and options. Fighting agains Governing Board or Secretary will be a futile action, Trying to recall members of working groups or damaging our internal structures, will be just pure self damage. Collaboration is the only way forward – the only way!

In the end we have to come to an acceptance that The Governing Board as well as The Secretary is also OUR Governing Board and OUR Secretary. I know it sound difficult in times of conflict, but it is the only way forward. Each of us can not move much, but together we can!

Reflection on the verge of going into administration

Sitting here in sad mood seeing the first steps of Governing Board exercising their right to give direct orders and taking over administration.

Reflecting upon why is has come to this point – our governing structure in The Foundation Act is a beautiful construction, where a respectful “dance” between the partners should have created the future. Now the dance is stopping and we are back to legal points.

Been going through the vast pile of documents from the last 10 years of “dance” between Governing Board and Auroville. It has been a bit hard, I thought I knew it as I have lived it, but seeing it all in chronological order, it is difficult not to see it as the same story repeating over and over again.

The comprehensive list of issues from Governing Board last meeting, is nothing new, it has been part of meetings for a very long time. There are many beautiful things in Auroville, but our governance systems and compliances are low, and we have not been able to improve them. Each year we have been giving the same excuses, community processes, selection processes, working on it, putting down a study group etc. It is quite embarrassing to see the flow of excuses. And the Governing Board have been patient, very patient. And they have tried many things – putting in experts, we all remember Bankim, Aromar Revi, Doshi amongst other, and tried with workshops and retreats.

 Governing Board have been so patient that we have come to see their non-interference as a “Law of Nature” – that we were the small masters of this micro universe. Maybe this long patience have actually been a disservice to us, as the changes coming now will be much deeper than 5 years ago. The current situation we are in, we only have ourselves to blame.

So finally the Governing Board have lost their patience and are starting exercising their power in accordance with the Foundation Act. And don’t blame the Governing Board or Secretary, I am sure that most of us, if we had been in their seats, would have lost our patience long ago.

How deep this intervention will go all depend on all of us, and how we act as a community. If we come forward in a collaboratory manner, work and change all the issues which we know are there, then the intervention will not go deep.

But if we protest, sabotage or obstruct the intervention will go much deeper.

I really hope we all take this an opportunity to move forward and collaborate. In reality The Foundation is The Governing Board, the International Advisory Committee and RA. Without the 3 columns working together we cannot progress. We aurovilians can not work alone, the last 10 years have clearly shown that, and the others can not work without aurovilians. We all need each other – unity in The Foundation!

Time for some humble introspection for all.

It takes two dance a Tango.

The Dance is not about rules and regulations, but are an act of creation.

For many years we have been dancing the same solo dance, and our partner have been trying to get our attention and into the dance.

Now he lost the patience, and stopped the music.

Now we have to decide upon we will dance together, or we will be standing angry on the side line, while the partner will perform his solo dance for the years to come.