Members of the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation visited Auroville on March 29th and 30th for their postponed meeting.
In the evening of March 29th the Governing Board met with the members of the Working Committee and representatives of various units and working groups to inform itself of developments. The next morning chairman Dr. Karan Singh opened two buildings and laid the foundation stone for a third one. That afternoon the Board met, and in the early evening interacted with the community in the SAWCHU building.
“With all the excitement about ‘offices of profit,' it is a miracle that I am here at all,” began Dr. Karan Singh in his talk to the community. He was referring to the controversy which was front-page news in the Indian newspapers some weeks ago, when, in the wake of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi's resignation as a Lok Sabha [Lower House of Parliament, eds.] member, he resigned as Rajya Sabha, [Upper House of Parliament, eds.] member to uphold the highest principles of polity and propriety. “The Indian Government is studying the issue. Meanwhile, I am happy that my psychic commitment to and contact with Auroville is continuing,” he said.
Dr. Karan Singh then briefly talked about a few major topics which the Board had dealt with. In order to help obtain the exemption from income tax which the Auroville Foundation had enjoyed before, the Board approved the creation of an Auroville Unity Fund, though it is aware that its modus operandi and guidelines still need to be worked out. [see AVToday October 2005, issue 201] “The last thing we want is our commercial units having to pay vast sums of money to the Income Tax Authority when that money is needed for the development of Auroville,” said Dr. Karan Singh. “The setting up of the Auroville Unity Fund is an important milestone in the evolution of Auroville as a unified community.”
Another major problem is the question of land acquisition, which has come to a total standstill in the last two and a half years. To deal with this issue the Board had set up the Land Consolidation Committee in its meeting in September 2005. It now instructed the Acting Secretary Mr. Srinivasamurthy to convene its first meeting and restart the process of land acquisition. “For,” said Dr. Karan Singh, “unless we acquire that land, any talk of building the city is unrealistic.”
On this topic he mentioned that the Board is still studying the proposal submitted by Roger Anger about how to proceed building the city. [see AVToday March 2006, issue 208]. “Now that the Matrimandir, apart from the gardens, is nearing completion and should be ready by Auroville's next birthday on 28th February 2007 , the next phase has started, which is to build the city. We have to apply our minds as to how we are going to get the money, and how to create a structure and appropriate organization to build the city. That is the next serious question we have to deal with.”
Referring to the earlier interaction with community members and his morning activities, Dr. Karan Singh reflected that he remains “profoundly impressed by the creativity of the Aurovilians; how a small community of 1800 people, which is hardly a village – a small village in India would have 18,000 people! – is able to produce such a lot of creative work in different fields. I think it shows that there is some force working in Auroville, despite the apparent discords and the conflicts that surface from time to time. If we keep ourselves open to the light, to the inner light, I am sure that Auroville will continue to progress in the future very rapidly. That is my personal belief.”
Asked about Auroville's image in New Delhi, Dr. Karan Singh mentioned that it has definitely improved, but he warned that “it is really up to the community to see that it functions in such a way that the image continues to improve.” He concluded that he looks upon Auroville as part of the broader Sri Aurobindo movement, which includes the Ashram, the Sri Aurobindo Society, Auroville International, and all people who are interested in Sri Aurobindo. “I think that there is a growing interest around the world now in the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo. More and more people are beginning to wonder about consciousness. Despite the outer tsunami of materialism there is also an inner spiritual growth in the world. Sri Aurobindo's philosophy and the way the Mother has amplified it and Auroville as the symbol of it are going to become increasingly important in the years to come.”
Read the full transcript of the speech by Dr. Karan Singh