Acceptable, Affordable & Adorable Housing Solutions
India is commemorating Sri Aurobindo’s 150th Birth Anniversary. Sri Aurobindo was born on 15th August 1872. On India’s independence day and Sri Aurobindo’s birthday on 15th August 1947, he shared His five dreams. The last dream was about self-perfection and making way for the advent of supramental beings. His spiritual associate, Mirra Alfassa, better known as “the Mother” set up Auroville in Tamil Nadu in 1968 as a place for unending education, spiritual and material research, and a bridge between the past and the future with residents as willing servitors of the Divine Consciousness. Auroville is conceived as a laboratory of evolution and a township for transformation. The Mother involved a renowned architect, Roger Anger, to work on the design and approved the Galaxy Plan, which forms the basis of the Auroville Master Plan designed for a population of 50,000.
Symbol of Mission Abode
A successful collective housing model will also provide India and other developing countries in the Global South with a viable working solution to house the urban poor and migrants on a sharing and sustainable basis.
In the last 50-plus years, the population has grown to 3000, but yet far away from the intended population figure. All this while, the residents of Auroville have worked hard on growing the township with achievements in architecture, ecological regeneration, art and design, organic food production, sustainable energy, water solutions, etc. However, the City that the founder envisioned seems a bit distant at this point.
This landmark year, thankfully, the government of India has decided to commemorate the ideals and ideas of Sri Aurobindo on his 150th Birth Anniversary, at a pan-India level. This initiative has given a fresh impetus to Auroville, his namesake. The Governor of Tamil Nadu, Shri R.N. Ravi has been appointed by the Government of India as the Chairperson of the Governing Board of Auroville Foundation while the Governor of Puducherry and Telangana, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan, is a Governing Board member. This new high profile Governing Board and the senior IAS officer, Dr. Jayanti Ravi who is Secretary of the Auroville Foundation have made the manifestation of the Mother’s Auroville, their mission.
Auroville’s Master Plan is spread over 20 sq. km. with the City Area being the central 5 sq. km. The outer crust is designed as a Green Belt, which is three times the size of the city area. The City area has five zones – City Centre, Residential Zone, International Zone, Industrial Zone & Cultural Zone.
The Auroville Master Plan was created in the early 2000s and forms the basis of all township development. Accordingly, the Government of India has committed to the laying of essential infrastructure like roads, electricity, water, sanitation, communication, etc. However, Auroville needs a long-term, reliable and constant model to integrally develop the City over a 10-year period.
It is in this regard of a long-term development plan, we’re reaching out to you to help us manifest the ‘City – The Earth Needs’.
At present, Auroville has residents from over 60 countries, and we often find it challenging to house newcomers and volunteers. They find rental houses or live on an ad-hoc basis, which dissuades the interested persons from staying long-term. This has resulted in slow growth of the population in Auroville, despite being a model City. The low and aging population has made Auroville’s economy stagnant and risk-averse. The cautious governance systems make conservative choices and end up being in a vicious circle or downward spiral. We wish to turn this tide towards a virtuous cycle. With your help!
The Auroville Charter, given by The Mother, instructs us to build Auroville for humanity at large, and make space for willing servitors. It clearly states Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. This means Auroville is a global public service project. When manifested fully, Auroville will become a living embodiment of actual human unity. Auroville is a place of unending education and will be the bridge between the past and the future, without and from within. Auroville will boldly spring towards future realizations. For this, your help is needed.
For the vision of Auroville, the real challenges that are being faced are tiny and frivolous in nature. The responsibility to build a new man is far greater than the challenges we face in building a City, today. With the right and timely assistance in mastery, manpower, money, and material, we can manifest the City, which then becomes the “laboratory of evolution” as envisaged. The idea of conscious evolution is to work on the dynamics of human nature, instead of natural evolution, like any other life on the planet. Auroville’s real mandate is to step up to participate in our collective progress.
As an immediate challenge, we need to raise large funds and allocate huge sums for capital projects. Auroville’s local economy is mostly self-sustaining and it is hard to cut down on human assets and spend on capital assets. The real estate value has shot up steeply and private developers making profits out of Auroville’s initiatives is proving to be alarming and detrimental. We need your immediate help in manifesting our International Township to overcome these grave challenges.
We appeal to you to help us with your mastery of structural development, skilled manpower, access to monetary capital, and material support. Your investment in Auroville can be for co-research to enhance the practical, technical know-how. Auroville can become a space for onsite skill development to develop a talented workforce to be deployed all over the country. Auroville being a laboratory can be used as a site for material research and to try out emerging and future technologies, which can further be scaled as per the gained insights. The Auroville Master Plan provides for a wide range of structural variations from standalone innovative houses to low-cost clusters to high-rise sustainable structures.
To achieve the above-mentioned possibilities, we need another crucial resource – finance. As Auroville is not a commercial project and no individual owns anything in Auroville, funding usually is a tricky part. When we look forward to having residents inclined towards Integral Yoga, it is hard to expect them to come with bag loads to afford the spaces. Moreover, all Aurovilians receive fixed maintenance (stipend), mostly in-kind, to go about their life. This is insufficient as it is with given ground realities. Affording a house is always a challenge. If Auroville relies on private funding for housing, it may end up being a posh gated colony, which is of course not the intent of the project. Hence, we are reaching out to you to help us with the financing of the structural projects.
As a pilot, we wish to create a housing infrastructure for 1,000 individuals. We believe the average cost per person is around INR 10 lacs. Hence, for 1,000 persons, INR 100 crores will be needed. We request you look at this funding requirement in three possible ways.
1. Grant: As Auroville Foundation is a non-profit entity with global ambitions, perhaps, the Auroville projects be funded through your CSR funds. The funds invested in Auroville can also be done for research and innovation purposes.
2. Hybrid: One portion can be a grant and the rest can be a loan. It is also conceivable that you do the manifesting part and some other entity comes forth for the investing part.
3. Loan: You may offer the monetary resources as Interest-free Unsecured or Secured loans. As Auroville is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Education, with a Governing Board and International Advisory Council, Auroville Foundation is an absolute ‘safe’ bet. Your loans are safe with the Foundation and the repayment as per the schedule is a given. In case you need some form of security, we can also explore further together, for extra safeguards.
In case Auroville Foundation takes the loan amount, we’ll ensure the repayment in a timely manner through the Auroville Housing Fund (AHF). We plan to introduce a housing contribution system, wherein for every working resident an amount of Rs. 10,000 per month will be set aside towards the AHF. The entity where the resident is working will include the contribution in their operations budget.
The resulting increase in population (and their contribution) will enable us to accelerate the development process. This shall put Auroville on a positive upward trajectory. Auroville will become a model town, inspiring others to emulate good practices. In a practical sense, Auroville can become a template for India’s further development plans. Auroville shall provide a futuristic sample for contemporary growth.
We believe this will be a befitting action to offer on Sri Aurobindo’s 150th Jayanti.
We humbly request you to read more about Auroville on our website – Auroville.org. We also invite you to immerse yourself in the writings of Sri Aurobindo. He has written on a wide array of subjects, and it is guaranteed you’ll find something of interest in His writings. Further, we request you to give us an opportunity to meet you in person and discuss the above-mentioned subjects in detail.
Auroville Town Development Council (ATDC) is the town planning and development organisation of Auroville Foundation. Auroville Foundation is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Education, Government of India, established by an Act of Parliament in 1988. Auroville Foundation has been established for the realisation of Auroville in accordance with its original Charter and Master Plan.