S.K. Tripathi

Education Secretary, Government of India, 2003

Mr. S.K. Tripathi, Education Secretary, Government of India, Paris, 10th April, 2003.

A Site of Material & Spiritual Researches

Address by Mr. S.K. Tripathi, Education Secretary, Government of India, at the 35th Anniversary Celebrations of Auroville, Paris, 10th April '03.

(Excerpt from his speech)

In consonance with this Vedic thought, Auroville was founded by "The Mother", a French disciple of Sri Aurobindo, on 28th February, 1968, when youth from 121 countries & 23 Indian States placed a handful of earth from their homelands in the lotus-shaped urn, symbolizing the creation of a city that was conceived as "a site of material & spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity."

One of the aims of Auroville is to bring together in close juxtaposition the values and ideals of different civilizations and cultures and these are in close alignment with UNESCO's ideals. The General Assembly of UNESCO has unanimously passed in 1966, 1968, 1970 and 1983 resolutions of support to Auroville, inviting member states and international non-governmental organizations to participate in the development of Auroville as an International Cultural Township designed to bring together the values of different cultures and civilizations in a harmonious environment with integrated living standards which correspond to man's physical and spiritual needs. Auroville has been lauded as one of the special places on earth where people are trying to return to a spiritual basis of life and to provide a model for appropriate planetary consciousness.

The Government of India took over Auroville in 1980 and in the year 1988, the Parliament of India passed the Auroville Foundation Act. 1988 for better management and further development of Auroville in accordance with its original charter, and the Department of Secondary & Higher Education, is the nodal administrative department, providing assistance to Auroville.

Auroville has made steady progress over these years in accordance with the ideals of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and presently is home to 1671 persons, of whom more than 1100 are nationals from 35 countries other than India. Apart from these, more than 4000 persons from neighbouring villages are employed by various commercial units, schools, offices, farms, forests, construction sites and homes in Auroville.

The Auroville Universal Township envisaged by the Mother is one of the unique examples of manifestation of human unity in diversity. The township, founded on a barren plateau devoid of even a blade of grass in 1968, has become a green area shaded with a variety of trees and plants. The architectural designs, appropriate building technologies, conservation approach, rainwater harvesting, re-use and recycling of water resources, solid waste management, land re-generation, community participation are some of the areas where innovative models and techniques have been developed and adapted in the township.

I am happy to share with you the fact that we have increased the Plan outlay for Auroville under the 10th Five Year Plan by adding a new Component for Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Educational Research, (SAIIER) to the already existing activities for which we were giving support. The 9th Plan outlay was Rupees twenty-five million and this has been increased to Rupees One hundred and fifty million now, denoting a six-fold increase. The Government is also funding Auroville through its other programmes.

We envisage that the Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Educational Research (SAIIER), which is being now supported by us, would bring about a change in the educational system in India through the implementation of Sri Aurobindo's vision of integral education. This involves a change in the aims of education, a new perception in the role of the teacher, experiments with evolving new curriculum & new methods of teaching & learning, thus, serving as a real life laboratory for the country's education system.

Auroville has already brought a transformation in the areas surrounding it by adopting people friendly technologies. Eco-friendly farms which do not destroy the Mother earth, income generating industrial units which do not pollute the air and many such innovations which point towards an India of the future, which is prosperous, in-tune with nature, does not sacrifice its collective goals and which acts as an inspiration for the new generation.

Towards this aim, we are here to support Auroville as partners in progress, as facilitators rather than as mere administrators, and would like to contribute towards the progress of Auroville to serve as a beacon of hope, not only for the future of India, but also for Humanity as a whole.

Thank you