The Auroville International Advisory Council held its half yearly meeting on 21st February 2007. As has become customary, its report was made available immediately afterwards.
The members of the International Advisory Council (IAC), Mark Tully, chairman, Doudou Diène, Michael Murphy and Marc Luyckx Ghisi, had spent quite a few days in Auroville before the meeting, giving lectures and interacting with many groups and individuals. The report of their meeting reflected these intense interactions.
Executive leadership a must
The IAC's main concern, once again, is Auroville's need for executive leadership which, it writes, “had come to us in many ways in relation to issues raised during our consultations. We advocate the creation of an executive leadership group, which could be conceived as a ‘City Council' if the people of Auroville so desire it. In any case we share and endorse The Mother's statement, where she explicitly speaks about an ‘executive body' conceived as an Auroville Council, composed of four, seven or eight members who would be unanimously accepted by the vast majority of the community and who would share, in essence, the same vision and understanding of the aim and principles of Auroville as they would have been generally accepted by the Aurovilians. The Auroville Council, representing the whole community, would be its executive and administrative body and its assent and participation necessary to all the resolutions and actions of the community in all more important matters of government, finance, policy, throughout the whole range of communal interests. But it would not interfere unduly with the life of the community; it would superintend and assist its right process and see that the raison d' être and the main principles of Auroville are observed. And here is the way she describes the type of persons to be in this executive body.
‘If there is no representative of the supreme consciousness (that can happen, can't it?), if there is no one, then perhaps this could be replaced (it would be an experiment) by the government of a few – which should be decided between four and eight, something like that: four, seven or eight – who have an INTUITIVE intelligence. “Intuitive” is more important than “intelligence”: an intuition manifested intellectually.'
Both the selection and the functioning of this executive group should be based on 2 principles: (1) The principle of spiritual wisdom described by the Mother and (2) The principle of participatory governance and devolution.
The International Advisory Council believes that the changes that need to be made to achieve these ends should be treated as a matter of urgency by the community. We also strongly believe that the Governing Board should actively assist in this process.”
WC selection is divisive
The IAC observed that it did not agree with the mode of selection of the new Working Committee which, it said, was “divisive and generating vehement disagreements. There is a need for a new and less divisive process and for more reasoned discussion.” The background to this is that Aurovilians were recently asked to select 15 names for a Selection Committee which would choose the new Working Committee and Auroville Council. When the results were announced, it did not represent the cultural diversity of Auroville. There were also allegations of ‘politicking'.
The IAC also expressed its view concerning a new planning organisation. In September last year, the Auroville Planning and Development Council (APDC) had ceased functioning as this Council and Auroville's Future had been working at cross purposes, at the cost of Auroville's development. Both groups then decided to explore the possibility of forming one planning and development body. Auroville Vision 2012, an unofficial group of individuals, was requested to facilitate the process. In February, it proposed a new organisation called L'Avenir d' Auroville. This body will have the task to plan, develop and construct the Auroville Township and plan and develop its socio-economic fabric. There will be nine work areas, each coordinated and managed by a competent team leader. Together, the nine team leaders will comprise the management team. On the wider level, the group proposed to create a citizens' body made up of concerned residents who commit themselves to an in-depth review of development proposals. The group particularly stressed their commitment to communicate, take feedback and integrate it for the best result possible.
On February 19th, the Residents' Assembly approved the proposal subject to two conditions: that it would have the right to approve the nomination of the team leaders, and that L'Avenir d'Auroville would submit major planning and development decisions for approval to the Residents' Assembly.
The IAC, being informed about these developments, expressed the hope that the newly proposed planning organization will be finally endorsed by the Residents' Assembly and later by the Governing Board. It was distressed that “once again government funds available for development activities were not spent” and considered that “the Governing Board will be obliged to decide on schemes needing immediate implementation, in the best interest of the community if the Residents' Assembly is not able to endorse a new planning organisation within a reasonable time frame.”
Regarding finances, the IAC mentioned that “there is a need for speedy creation of a Budget Coordination Committee and for establishing guidelines to define the priorities in the allocation of funds.” The IAC reiterated its strong endorsement of the principle of transparency in all financial matters and that accounts should be published on the web. It also asked for more transparency concerning ‘unspecified funds' and asked that the guidelines concerning the investments of surplus money should be finalized as soon as possible.
The IAC was informed of the concerns of Americans about the proposal to drastically change their pavilion in the International Zone (AVToday #209-210 of June-July 2006). It recommended that guidelines for national pavilions and for their planning process and responsibilities be formulated as soon as possible, and commented that the inclusiveness of the process is as important as the result.
Visas and Residential Permits
Regarding Visas and Residential Permits, the IAC “strongly recommended that Boris, Chris and Dima (three young men who had been evicted from India in January 2005 after an Indian court found them guilty of misdemeanour in the New Year's party of 2002, Eds.) should be allowed to come back to Auroville as soon as possible”. The IAC also recommended that the Secretary of the Auroville Foundation, when recommending the granting of a visa or the extension of a Residential Permit, should normally follow the recommendation of the Entry Group and Residents' Service. If the Secretary disagrees with the recommendations of the Entry Group, the IAC proposes that he inform and has a dialogue with the Entry Group and the Working Committee first. If there is no agreement, the Secretary should submit the case to the Chairman of the Governing Board.
The IAC visited several elementary and secondary schools and was “highly impressed by the quality of involvement and the degree of innovation of many schools. We were also happy to note some future projects of university level initiatives.” The IAC asked the Secretary to compile a comprehensive issue-oriented report on education in Auroville, because of the centrality of education for the future of Auroville. The IAC also expressed that it was “particularly impressed by the initiative of Auroville industrial school with its emphasis on education for life.”
Auroville's 40th anniversary
Various issues related to the 40th anniversary were brought to the attention of the IAC. “These issues reminded us once again about Auroville's need for both urgent action and executive leadership. This is an important event in Auroville's history, providing the community with a unique opportunity to tell the world about its achievements and aspirations. It would be a terrible loss if this opportunity is missed. It is therefore essential that an effective Organizing Committee be set up immediately.”