The IAC is saddened by the passing of Ajoy Bagchi and honors his dedication to Auroville. We miss his sound common sense, knowledge of the ways of the Indian administration and wonderful sense of humor.
We are happy to welcome Mr. Bala Baskar back as Secretary and wish him a very fruitful term serving Auroville’s ideals.
We congratulate Auroville on their response to Cyclone Thane demonstrating the community’s capacity when their skills are united and focused on specific goals. We found in the Cyclone Response Team’s report a list of lessons learned and hope that action will be taken on them.
We were disappointed to hear no land had been bought in the city area the last year in spite of numerous efforts. We believe it is in Auroville’s best interest to be transparent and pragmatic. We hope all parties can collaborate to speed up the process of land acquisition.
Auroville Board of Commerce
Stagnation in Auroville’s commercial units and exports is part of a world-wide trend and a signal of the end of an era. By exploring South to South markets and those emerging markets around the world along with domestic sales, we believe it should be possible to achieve more links between Auroville’s technological progress and its business enterprises leading to more commercial success.
In the present world situation, profit is the supreme value, so while recognizing its importance Auroville should not loose sight of the ethical dimensions when doing business. This gives added intangible value to Auroville products.
Because Auroville is part of a blossoming “knowledge society” and because it is multi-cultural, it is full of human capital. So we see opportunities for business consultants and other white collar jobs in Auroville like training and education. In the manufacturing sector, we were glad to hear Upasana is flourishing as a model business with its new relationship with Fab India. We urge Auroville not to neglect its manufacturing sector.
We support the efforts of Secretary to protect the Auroville name and symbol from misuse domestically and abroad.
We were informed that the farms need an injection of capital to upgrade infrastructure including improved sprinkler systems and to compensate for the higher costs of local labor. Foodlink’s efforts to plan production and match the needs of kitchens and crops are an improvement on the past. Helping local farmers to improve their skills and grow organically is an important part of Auroville’s mission in the bioregion.
We applaude the Farm Group’s efforts to create and fund a 5 year plan and to present their proposal to potential funders abroad.
Pour Tous / For All Online Exchange
This scheme of a free exchange of services is a useful tool for community participation and integration building on Mother’s enthusiasm for experiments in a new economy.
Development of the Arts
The IAC will network and support links with UNESCO and International Foundations to support the Arts in Auroville. We encourage the Governing Board to include the Arts in budget requests and to develop a relationship with the Ministry of Culture. It is especially important in Auroville to balance ethics and aesthetics in the Arts. An investment in a rich and diverse cultural environment makes Auroville attractive to newcomers.
Town Development Council
We were surprised to learn that the TDC was not entirely clear on their brief. We hope this will be resolved. We noted Mr. Doshi’s urgent request to set up a professional planning department to formulate a development plan within a clear time frame. We support implementing these requests.
We hope the TDC considers the impact of Pondicherry’s dynamic growth. Intercultural relations must be encouraged and appreciated as a special strength of our diverse community and integrated into the development of the town.
We regret that after short presentations there was no time left to discuss the following projects:
Auroville Institute of Integral Health
New Era Secondary School
We hope there will be an opportunity to discuss these projects in depth during our next visit and that in the meantime the Governing Board will support their goals as best they can.
Working Committee Selection
The selection process was long, complicated and painful. We urge that a new process be in place by the Fall in order to insure a smooth transition next time. We have previously recommended an extension of terms and that the issue of continuity be addressed by the rotation of members with staggered terms.
Controversy over The Lives of Sri Aurobindo
Having watched the unfolding of this controversy over many years we are saddened that Sri Aurobindo’s name is being dragged into an unseemly dispute which is contrary to the values of intellectual and spiritual freedom exemplified by his life and teachings.
The Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust has issued a statement:
“The considered view of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust is that it does not project itself in the role of dictating to readers and followers of Sri Aurobindo as to what they should read and what they should not read. Each person is at complete liberty to decide for himself whether he finds any book to be meaningful and useful, or whether he does not find it to be so, and Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust respects and has full faith in the intellectual and spiritual discernment of the readers. No one should or needs to force his personal opinions on any other reader in general and more particularly on the followers of Sri Aurobindo.”
We support this statement and hope that the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust’s authority and standing in this matter is respected.
To summarise, we feel that Sri Aurobindo’s name must not be associated with banning books or deportation of scholars and each of us must take the appropriate initiatives to prevent this from happening.
We were pleased by the presentation of Auroville Higher Education - An Integrated Campus Project. We observe that an Auroville Higher Education Center is an important step towards Auroville’s future. Many are aware that “unending education” was an important concept of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and is part of the Auroville Charter.
There is an openess in the Central Government to encourage Auroville to develop new models of higher learning for India. There have already been discussions between Auroville and the Ministry for Rural Development about creating a pilot project for training in rural development relevant not only to Tamil Nadu but to the rest of India.
We strongly encourage this group to collaborate with other groups in Auroville involved in training and higher education in order to create a common framework with culturally relevant modules as quickly as possible.
Integrated Rural Development
The Adyar Ponga is one of a growing number of projects respected at both the state and local levels. The continued explorations of the synergies between Auroville and the Kaluveli Bioregion could be a model replicated throughout the country. We hope that the Working Committee, SAIIER and other relevant executive bodies of Auroville along with the Governing Board and IAC offer these projects and partners their full support.
We encourage groups and individuals to review the best practices for running and presenting to our meetings:
- start on time with technical bugs worked out for smooth transitions
- facilitation to keep the focus and schedule
- presentations are kept concise leaving time for discussion
- the lead presenter speaks clearly and audibly
- don’t repeat exactly the text of the powerpoint or paper
- the project should have clearly defined roles, responsibilities, outcomes and methods of evaluation with a follow-up report
Examples such as the TED Talks (www.ted.com) are widely available on the internet and facilitation skills could be shared and shown by example.
We hope our participation in the IAC in formal meetings and our interactions with individuals has been useful to you. For the sake of interaction and efficiency, we would appreciate reactions of the Governing Board, the Working Committee and the community at large to our report.
Next Meeting Dates: September 7th, 8th and 9th 2012
Mark Tully Doudou Diene Marc Luyckx Ghisi Julian Lines