A Brief Summary of Action
Auroville is a unique experiment to translate the Vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother into Action. And, the main purpose of Auroville is to realize Human Unity. As such, Auroville belongs to nobody in particular and belongs to humanity as a whole. Thus, the responsibility to manifest Auroville also belongs to everybody in particular. Therefore, any action related to Auroville, cannot be limited to Auroville only. A handful of residents may live full-time in Auroville, and be willing servitors of the Divine Consciousness.
However, the onus of manifesting Auroville is not limited to the residents alone. In this regard, support has to seek from all nooks of society, and corners of the world. Auroville Actions is a mechanism to seek support, in the form of donations and contributions from individuals, organizations, and governments from around the world.
The Action in Auroville is not limited to the physical manifestations of the City, through its Galaxy Plan. Much action is needed in the way we take care of people and each other. Any Action that flows prosperity into Auroville, will break our long held molds and free us from the smalltime insecurities. Alongside, our Actions need to bolster the green prospects, and invest in sustainable solutions. Finally, some of our Actions, need to have an outwardly, global outlook. Apart from simply focusing on what the world can do for us, we need to proactively act to benefit the world too.
Auroville Actions is a resource mobilization ecosystem that supports the entire lifecycle of a project from conception to completion. Auroville Actions is a catalyst and enabler for the projects of Auroville to raise, manage, and utilize funds. Auroville welcomes support from around the world from those who are interested in the City of Auroville, sustainable development projects, social research, scientific research, and various other initiatives. Auroville Actions will manage, maintain, and monitor the project, from the point of view of the donors, and report back to them. Auroville Actions shall undertake various capacity-building activities to bolster our capacity to raise funds, from various sources.
Before we even begin to raise resources, our target audiences must be rightly made aware of Auroville’s raison d’etre, and slowly prep and prepare them with the fact that Auroville is the best bet for their donations and investment, and that Auroville’s ideals are worthwhile aspirations to pursue. Our approach must be to raise friends, not funds. Once, we’ve ample friends, all around the world, who believe in what we believe so strongly, they’ll contribute on their own. Perhaps. Alternatively, while raising funds for any projects, Auroville needs to spread awareness about its larger purpose, philosophy, and practices through various online and offline platforms. And, in this regard, AWARE Auroville shall be an able and complementing contributor.
For actually beginning somewhere, we’ve taken some broad estimation of numbers to start with. On the way, we can substantiate, correct, and build upon it with the availability of more data and facts. The following detailed piece on different types of action, details the Aspirations, Approaches, Activities, and ways form practical and immediate Affectuation and Actualisation.
Symbol of Auroville Actions
Propelling Auroville Forward
Getting Auroville into Action
Mother wanted Auroville to be manifested within a timeline of 10 years, starting with Matrimandir by 1972, Sri Aurobindo’s 100th Birth Anniversary. We’re celebrating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo and are still far away from the Dream. If we are serious about our aspiration for Auroville, we need Auroville to get into Action. We need Aurovilians to roll up their sleeves and act. We need a 10-year plan to manifest the City. All this hinges on our ability to mobilize resources. The purpose of Auroville Actions is to mobilize the resources, monitor the progress, and manifest the City.
As Auroville belongs to nobody in particular, but to humanity as a whole, the responsibility also falls on the world community to ensure its manifestation. India faces all the challenges of the world, and Auroville further, faces all the challenges of India. Thus, a progressive Auroville will stand as a model for India and the world. Moreover, Auroville is the only such project in the entire world, in terms of its stated purpose, and depth and magnitude of objectives. Thus, the world should be given ample opportunities to take part in the development of Auroville.
The Founder, the Mother, decided to manifest Auroville, for Human Unity and as a Laboratory of Evolution, in the 60s. It was also in response to the then-prevailing condition of the Cold War and the looming danger of a devastating WW3. Auroville was a message of Peace. After 55 years, the world does not seem to be far different from the perspective of human nature. If we want to evolve consciously, Auroville needs to manifest.
Thus, the Mother wanted the City to manifest in 10 years. She attached much importance to the urgency and need of the project. She left her body in 1973, and ever since, Auroville is in a wanting condition, if one considers its lofty ideals and intention. Indeed, some progress has been made in the field of afforestation, soil conservation, water management, sustainable energy, innovative architecture, etc. But, that was never the primary aspiration, perhaps, they are great secondary or tertiary by-products.
It is also prudent to remember that Mother was extremely pragmatic when it came to dealing with the external world. Even in fundraising. It was actually under Her supervision that the bulk of the land for Auroville was purchased. Since then only a negligible portion has been added. She explored multiple options simultaneously, whether it was with the Royal Family of Hyderabad, through Roger Anger in UNESCO, or through Ford Foundation. Mother asked openly for help in building the City.
Apart from the above reasons, section 19 (d) of the Auroville Foundation Act, 1988 states that the Residents Assembly may make proposals for the raising of funds for Auroville for the approval of the Governing Board. Section 17 (f) provides for authorization and coordination of fundraising by the Governing Board of Auroville Foundation and to secure proper arrangements for the receipt and disbursement of funds for Auroville.
In this regard, Auroville needs a mechanism to sort, assort, and recommend proposals for fundraising. A body that is capable and authorized to coordinate fundraising for Auroville in a more organized manner. And, once the funds are secured, proper arrangements for receipt and disbursement of funds for Auroville projects need to be made. Further, it is to be internally monitored and the results reported back to the relevant authorities and donors.
Auroville’s action will also contribute to the fulfillment of Sri Aurobindo’s five dreams for Mother India. The first of a united and resolute India. The second is to accelerate the resurgence of Asia. The third is a form of the World Union for humanity’s progress. Fourth, a resurgent new India as a spiritual gift to the world. He said, ‘India’s spirituality is entering Europe and America in an ever-increasing measure. That movement will grow; amid the disasters of the time more and more eyes are turning towards her with hope and there is even an increasing resort not only to her teachings but to her psychic and spiritual practice.’ And, the final dream was a step in evolution that would raise man to a higher and wider consciousness and begin the solution of the problems which have perplexed and vexed him since he first began to think and dream of individual perfection and a perfect society.
In this regard, if Auroville gets into Action, it won’t merely manifest itself. It will benefit the bioregion. It will uplift Tamilnadu. It will glorify South India. It will be an exemplary model for Mother India. It will make South Asia proud. It will become another feather on the crown of Asia. It will be a trendsetter for the Global South. Auroville will be an inspiration to the entire world.
Plan of Action
Auroville Action’s primary objective is to manifest the City of Auroville. The City the Earth needs. The City of Dawn. In this pursuit, the approach of Auroville Action will not be limited to a physical manifestation of the City, according to the Galaxy Plan. The work of building the city goes hand-in-hand with the building of a New Man. Our role will also be to enable outsiders to become active participants in the making of Auroville.
Also, when we mobilize resources, they will not be merely restricted to financial resources. We need people of varying capacities. We need experts with technical knowledge. We need material support of all kinds, for the willing servitors of Divine Consciousness. All in all, our plan of action is to create abundance. So that the Aurovilians can break away from their usual preoccupations and can look beyond their basic needs.
The following are the five spheres of Auroville, where we may need resources to invest. Once, we are aware of the necessities and requirements, which will take us to the summit of our pursuit, we can perhaps, better prepare ourselves. We can safely assume that, maybe, all our needs cannot be met internally, exclusively. We may have to approach the external world for at least half of our needs. And, at the same time, there is no guarantee that all our needs will be met by the outside world. This is where we need an integral and conscious approach to resource mobilization. To recognize and identify the ones that can only be met internally, the ones that can be partially met by outsiders, and the ones that can fully be funded through external sources.
The physical manifestation of the Galaxy would mean that we plan for all six zones of Auroville: Peace Zone in the Centre. Surrounded by four zones, namely Residential, International, Industrial & Cultural. And, the Green Zone as an outer crust. Thus, a total of 6.
At present, we’ve multiple ad hoc and sporadic developments, instead of an intended plan. Whatever has been developed, has been totally on the basis of individual efforts, and thus there is a prevalent sense of ownership. If we succeed in raising funds for all projects of Auroville, impartially, perhaps, we shall be able to break away from the possessive attitudes.
By coordinating our efforts and collaborating together for the larger cause, we will be able to be more effective and efficient in our delivery. As there is a paucity of availability of living spaces, the population has largely plateaued in the last decade. This affects our capability to manage our affairs and sustain ourselves economically. On the other hand, tourism is booming at break-neck speed, and we are constantly scrambling to cater to external needs.
This is counterproductive for Auroville’s cause. And, we’re, at present, caught in a vicious cycle. The only way to break away from that cycle is to take bold steps towards manifesting the City in full and help new Aurovilians take up roles and responsibilities in a multitude of ways.
We also know that Mother wanted about 50,000 willing servitors to inhabit our City of the Future. We need to plan all 6 zones with this number in focus. Presently, Auroville consists of about 2,000 adult population. If our target is to turn that number 25X times, we need to find resources to sustain the demand of that increased numbers on all our already constrained sources of income.
The population of 50,000 can only be tenable with a robust economic model, wherein the new inductees take an active part in the industry of Auroville. However, we may have to find resources to invest in the innovation and incubation of sustainable ideas.
By whatever means, we need to find ways to allocate resources toward maintenances of 50,000 residents. We may have to incur a recurring cost of about INR 20,000 per month, for all, irrespective of the nature of work, to free ourselves from the insecurities of the future, and the needs of the present. That’s INR 20,000 x 50,000 = INR 1 billion (INR 100 crore) per month. In other words, we need INR 1,200 Crores Per Annum to maintain Aurovillians with the present costs. We will need to scale our Economy, to meet our basic needs. That’s the only way out, and the way forward.
By investing in our economy and growing it to create abundance, we shall be able to provide for everyone equally. A UBI – Unconditional Basic Income – of sorts. The decoupling of money and work will enable the residents to do what they truly want to do and express themselves, instead of taking up work, for maintenance’s sake.
The steady maintenance of constant maintenance may provide for the individual needs of each individual. For example, one needs to take care of the house fixes, exigent family responsibilities, travel back to home country, travel for pleasure, tiny excursions, dine-outs, entertainment, maintenance of vices, etc. These are all personal needs. Some may have more. Some less. Perhaps, we can provision for a common pot, where the ones who do not need maintenance may leave it out for those who are in greater need. The way we were supposed to be.
But, prosperity is different from maintenance. Like the initial days of Auroville, we may aim for a prosperity pack, which caters to the basic material needs of Aurovilians. These are all basic common services, which are required for everyone, regardless. The basic needs related to Food, Shelter, and Clothing are the same for all. Add to it, the modern-age basics of Mobility & Connectivity.
Auroville Actions shall attempt to find resources for the above-said prosperity systems. Perhaps, we can add Solar-Kitchen-like community eateries, for every new 1,000 residents. Wherein, every resident can avail of simple, tasty, and nutritious food, without paying in lieu.
Auroville Actions shall attempt to find resources to fund the housing projects of Auroville through various hybrid means so that we can relieve the residents from the burden of earning, saving, and paying for their shelter. If all the housing units are held collectively, perhaps, the residents can move in and out, with ease and peace. Today, if we can manage to streamline our services, we should be able to create new houses, at the rate of INR 10 lacs per person. In total, to complete the Residential Zone for the remaining 39,000 residents, we may have to find resources in the vicinity of INR 3,900 crore.
Auroville Actions shall attempt to find resources to create simple, sustainable, and beautiful clothing, designed and stitched for all Aurovilians in Nandini-like initiatives.
Auroville Actions shall attempt to find resources for Mobility solutions that fit the needs of our City. We need to support Kinisi-like initiatives from the central kitty so that they can offer quality mobility solutions, which is non-polluting and sustainable in nature.
Auroville Actions shall attempt to find resources for seamless connectivity across Auroville. This way wherever the residents go, they’re automatically connected to the network. Technology is available, and with some resources, we can achieve this seemingly impossible task.
If all the above-mentioned five needs are met adequately, through the resources gained in the common pot, we may all see the value in contributing to the collective effort.
Apart from the individual needs that we require on a constant basis, there are a few collective needs that we all require on an irregular basis. We need resources for its capital infrastructure costs and its regular maintenance cost, related to Energy, Education, Health, Water & Sanitation, and Pathways. These are all part of the commons, and irrespective of the individual’s requirement or usage, we may have to maintain a high level of quality.
Additionally, we also have about 12 villages surrounding and around Auroville. True progress in Auroville can only happen with the villages, and not in seclusion. Henceforth, our prosperity is linked with the prosperity of the nearby villages too. And, our prosperity calculations, at least the collective infrastructure must include the nearby villages.
In Auroville, the outer Green Zone constitutes about 3/4th of the Galaxy Plan. Even in the City part, which is 1/4th of the Plan, 50% or more is a green area. This way, the model City for Humanity, will pave the way for prioritizing our planet in our collective living.
The Galaxy Plan is meant to respect the topological necessities, geological realities, and ecological standards while manifesting even the City area. Perhaps, some areas are fit for farming, some need to be accounted for aquifers, some for recreational purposes, some for sanitary needs, some for forestry, etc.
The farming techniques in the Green belt to sustain the residents will set new standards for self-sustainability. If we succeed in producing 80% of our intake needs, we’ll manage to save huge amounts on food imports, transportation, pilferage, wastage, etc. At present, we’re farming to sell, and buying to eat. This is a huge mismatch, and with some smart investments in collective farming, we shall overcome this impediment.
For ecological reasons, we may need to maintain a certain portion of the Green Zone as forested regions. The well-planned, and well-managed urban forests have the potential to contribute to the physical and mental health of the residents, by buffering stress, creating inviting places for physical activity, and more. Also, it may mitigate the heat island effect by reducing temperatures through shading and evapotranspiration.
The engineless mobility plan shall pave the way for conscious solutions for complex mobility-related issues. A City-wide adoption of renewable energy will create a new revolution in off-grid City planning. The investment in the four parks and other green infrastructure within the City will illustrate that the progress of humans need not be at the expense of Humanity and Nature.
Thus, no doubt, we need to invest in innovating and adapting sustainable solutions for the world to learn from our wholesome living experiences.
The purpose of Auroville is to realize Human Unity. Once, Auroville was created to avoid the next World War. Such were the lofty and high ideals. The prevalent situation forces us to be tied to our daily life struggles and hardly leaves any space for global thinking. If we can achieve some success in manifesting the physical City, help old and new Aurovilians live to their full potential, find prosperity to trump all insecurities and care for our environment, we can then, perhaps, look at possible ways to contribute to the world events.
Once we settle inside, we can look to bring the world’s attention to Auroville in the right manner. And, alternatively, give Auroville’s attention to world events.
One way to address the world would be to make them aware of the ideas and ideals of Sri Auroville and the Mother. If we can create practical opportunities for various groups to visit Auroville in a conscious manner, naturally they will be touched by the vision of Auroville. We can have different programs for young people, whether in schools, universities, or those exploring the world for the meaning of life. We may invite different professionals to interact with our industrial zone in varying capacities. We can invite the art and cultural world to partake in our cultural milieu. We can invite the top brains of the world, from a wide spectrum of specialties, to visit, mingle, contribute, research, and help Auroville.
A few representatives from Auroville can visit different countries of the world and create local chapters there. They can pave the way for institutional tie-ups. They can initiate research and exchange of ideas and organize cultural events. They can help various Auroville entities collaborate with their counterparts.
We need funds to keep up with our high ideals and take concrete steps for Peace & Unity, given the situation around the world. With the right amount of resources, Auroville will benefit hugely from the goodwill it emits, and the soft power it projects. The return on investment in this field may prove to be far higher than in other fields. However, they will all be intangible, and hard to quantify. But, then, Auroville is not meant for quantifiable growth.
Course of Action
Now, that we’ve acknowledged the loftier aspirations, and analyzed the larger approaches. Let us assess the long-term activities that are required to be in place, to accomplish our objectives. The course of action we determine now needs to take into account our past experience of 55 years, amplify the successful aspects, and course-correct the ones that have kept us wanting.
We do not have a unified plan of action in place. Presently, the responsibility to manage resource mobilization is fragmented between WC / FAMC / ATDC / UF / GB / PCG / AVI / etc. The Working Committee is supposed to liaison with the outside world. However, the FAMC has the mandate to manage the funds and assets. On the other hand, ATDC’s standing order outlines RM as one of the 10 responsibilities. The Unity Fund has been handling the donations for three decades without much control over where it is coming from and where it is going. Often, the GB approves and secures some funds from the GoI, but has been largely sporadic and depends entirely on the secretariat. The community-created PCG handles a handful of donors. The community also created RCG, but they are lost somewhere. AVI do manage something, here and there, on their own, and disperse as per their liking, to their favorites, to the best of their knowledge. Apart from these groups, many units raise funds for their projects, through their own sources.
In the prevailing ecosystem, we do not have a focussed approach to scrutinizing the projects and prioritizing them as per our objectives. The lack of a macro view means that we’re all handling different aspects of the elephant, without knowing the full picture. Individually, the most visible and pressing issue demands our attention and we delve into its details, without understanding the parts and its sum.
The lack of coordination between the working groups and the project-oriented fundraising efforts has led to multiple lamentable lost opportunities. Perhaps, if we had a larger picture in mind, we could’ve pitched in some other projects of possible interest to the existing donors. If we found a donor channel a mismatch to the proposed plan, we could have offered something else to their liking, if only we knew others had some requirements too.
All the visitors that visit Auroville, all the guests that stay in our guesthouses, and all the tourists that eat in our eateries, are all possible resources. We simply make them pay their bills and let them go. The bifurcation of commercial units and service units and working groups has led to this apathetic conditioning.
Luckily, Auroville has had incredible individuals who’ve put in their selfless efforts, in spite of all the challenges and have raised resources for Auroville. However, this personal motivation and zest, soon turns to insecurities, when one gets unsure of the motivation of others, who could perhaps share the same channels. Perhaps, there were instances where someone else botched up the prospective donor, by excessively asking. Resource mobilization is a nuanced job. Not a cup of tea for everyone. Definitely, not for the untrained novices. The ones who burnt their fingers and learned the hard way, have become extremely cautious, and guard their connections with life, now. The individual insecurities are counterproductive, actually, for our larger purposes.
A detailed development plan is a basic necessity. A DDP of different sorts, for resource mobilization. We need to prioritize our requirements, break them into periodic targets, divide them into specific tasks, and spread them over the next 10 years.
Once we have this macro-level plan in place, we can coordinate resource mobilization effects with the advantage of a bird’s eye view, through various means and mechanisms. We can assign roles and share responsibilities.
A body like Auroville Actions, without a project of its own to promote or be biased too, shall instill a sense of trust and confidence in the collective.
In Auroville, we need to take responsibility for resource mobilization and consider it as an essential service to the community. The dedicated resource mobilization entity shall perform its work on a 100% transfer basis. The funds raised shall be fully utilized for their intended purposes. The upkeep of the Auroville Actions shall be fully supported by the City Services, or, if required, raise funds specifically for fundraising activities.
A responsible Auroville-based mechanism shall also support all AVIs. If you look at it, there is a lot of duplication of work, in each country. Auroville Actions can provide all the necessary tools and resources required to raise funds from Auroville.
This way, the AVIs can focus exclusively on expanding the resource base, leaving the drudgery to the team in Auroville. This shall boost the AVIs that are not performing well, due to these logistic issues.
The donors to Auroville are collective assets and not merely a personal connection to exploit at the whims and wills of anyone. In fact, the donors are seekers too, and merely contribute to Auroville through different means. Resource mobilization is not a job of asking, it is a way of offering someone an opportunity to be a willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.
Plan of Action
Project Planning & Research
The context for Resource Mobilization
Longterm Strategic planning and mobilization roadmap
Segmentize the projects, according to different themes
Survey and Research to establish the need
Finding Community and Funders’ Insights
Project Proposal for the request for a donation.
Assigning Roles and Responsibilities
A set format for Application processing
Grant seeking for Auroville, Regional, Emergency, India, and Global needs.
Project Packaging according to the Donor preferences
Setting project execution schedules and monitoring systems
Project application and status system
Outreach and Publication
Outreach to different types of donors, differently
Partnerships and institutional networking – India, South Asia, Asia, Global
Outreach to media, and crafting of the message according to various channels
Advocacy programs to seek favorable policy recommendations
Creation of documentaries, to tell stories about Auroville
Audience-oriented targeted campaigns
Create and participate in engaging events
Conduct and attend conferences related to various themes
Fun and engaging fair to involve the donors
Annual awards to show our gratitude to the supporters
Discovering various channeling of resources
Database Management – Donors and Partners
Designing Quality Proposals
Negotiating a funding agreement with a donor
Preparing a project communication plan
Donor Acquisition Platform – Salesforce-like
Crowdfunding capabilities – Individual / HNI
Donor Management – AVI, CSR, Institutions and Govt., INGOs
Managing Donor Relations – cultivating friendships
Donor engagement – Retention, Upsell, Cross-sell, Upgrade – Donor management system
Funds received in total
Date the funds are received.
Monitoring and Reporting
Data Collection Plan
Quantitative Monitoring Plan
Qualitative Evaluation Plan
Gap Recognition and Fixation Plan
Donor Reporting Plan
Monitoring & Evaluation
Project Monitoring System – PMS / Basecamp-like
Realtime Project Dashboard and auto report generation.
Quarterly report on the use of the funds if spanning more than a quarter
Ensuring Legal Compliance
Outreach to a different audience, informing the progress
Closure & Reporting
Ensuring proper completion of project and closure of accounts
Final project completion report along with the utilization of the funds towards the project implementation.
Document the project progress as a case study and research project
Record the success stories and other testimonials
Collect donor feedback
Capacity Building of AA team
Expert Fundraising Masterclasses
Regular Brushup Training in Fundraising
Possible newcomer contributions
Workshops for the Youth and Residents
Empower the local community
Project-oriented Capacity Building
Support the existing entities which need funds
Help new ones develop projects, and incubate them
Workshops for units
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.