Letter written in response by one of the Aurovilians:
Auroville, August 12th, 2001
Dear Members of the Working Committee,
I thank you for organising the forum on
development of our villages. I found it very informative, and
also helpful in providing a direction for future work. I would
just like to share one perspective that is not often heard in
our talks on village development.
All over the world today rural populations
are being disenfranchised by economic pressures. That means people
are losing their dignity and way of life, being "marginalised",
unless they are able to compete in the global economic way. It
is this that is leading to "poverty", not the lack of
jobs or money. People were never so "poor" as in present
times, nor were there so many of them.
If we provide economic incentives and
educational opportunities for our villages, well and good. But
the secondary effect of this individualistic development is that
some people in those villages will not benefit, and perhaps the
economically advanced members of the village will discriminate
and care less for them, making them even "poorer" than
they already are. Which institution will then care for the uneconomic:
women at home, children less bright, farmers, adults unskilled
or disabled, backward castes, the ageing...
Also, when we consider the villages' "need
to expand", let's not forget that the expansion we see now
is, and will be, compounded by other Indian people migrating to
this area, further marginalising people born here.
We should be careful to sponsor development
that will not disrupt the more positive aspects of the fabric
of local society, and consider also the basic needs, like clean
water & drainage, abundant fuel wood, proper waste disposal
& cultivation of natural beauty - things for which there is
only economic value by coincidence. The people you speak to in
the villages may not ask for these things, but they will certainly
thank you for them.