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Archive 2012


December 2012

This issue of Auroville Today is publishing, among others, the next articles:

  • The onslaught continues: update on the beach
  • Auroville will be facing a water crisis
  • The future of the arts in Auroville
  • Auroville and the world: educational exchanges
  • A mushrooming business
  • Farewell matters
  • and others...

The pdf.files of this issue can be downloaded here

We wish you happy reading.

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November 2012

This issue of Auroville Today is publishing, among others, the next articles:

  • Is Auroville abandoning its threatened beach communities ?
  • What do we do with all the wood ?
  • The Seven Jewel Centres of the Earth Mother
  • Technology and human unity
  • Wind energy for Auroville
  • Aspiration: A programme for Newcomers
  • and others...

The pdf.files of this issue can be downloaded here


October 2012

This issue of Auroville Today is publishing, among others, the next articles:

  • A full report on the Auroville Festival in Delhi:
    "City for Transformation"
  • Energy positive habitats: a three-days workshop
  • Last Governing Board and International Advisory Council meetings
  • The outlying lands of Auroville
  • SAVI unlocking Auroville
  • Free progress in New Creation
  • Towards an International University in Auroville

The pdf.files of this issue can be downloaded here
We wish you happy reading.

September 2012

Twelve Auroville units are collaborating on the biggest bioregional project which Auroville has ever undertaken. But this project, in turn, is dwarfed by the scale and ambition of another Auroville-designed project which the Government of India is now considering. What are these projects, and why is the Government of India among others so keen that Auroville take up the development of the bioregion? This is the main topic of the September 2012 issue of Auroville Today.

Another main topic is raising funds for the city. In September last year, the Working Committee of the Residents’ Assembly constituted a Resource Mobilization Group (RMG), appointed three long-term Aurovilians as members, and charged them with raising funds for Auroville. How have they fared? This issue also contains an interview with Bhuvana Nandakumar, the President of the American Foundation for Wortld Education, which, for more than 20 years has been supporting Auroville.

Revisioning the Auroville Greenbelt is the last major topic of this issue. David and Achva Stein, planners who have worked intensively with Auroville environmentalists and planners over the past year, made a public presentation in August David of their draft of a Greenbelt Plan which challenges us to view the Auroville greenbelt in a new way.

The issue also carries an article on the Fountain in the Garden of Unity at the Matrimandir, which is being built; an article portraying Adil Writer, ‘a crusader in clay and canvas’; and a response by Toine to an article by Alan titled "Contacting the evolving Auroville" which appeared in the August 2012 edition of Auroville Today.

Then there is attention for an area into which remarkable little consciousness goes in India, that of waste. Inspired by the Litter Free Auroville movement, Auroville’s Waste Less team has authored Garbology 101, an educational kid for teachers and students, which now will be part of the curriculum of Auroville and outreach schools.

Lastly, in the section ‘passings’, we pay tribute to Georges van Vrekhem who left his body on August 31st at the age of 77. Georges was well known in Auroville and beyond for his path-breaking books on Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. His book Beyond Man, the Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother became a highly acclaimed seminal book, perhaps the best that has ever been written on Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. His other books include The Mother, The Story of Her Life (2000); Overman – the intermediary between the human and the supramental being (2001); Patterns of the Present – from the perspective of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother (2002), Hitler and His God, the background to the Hitler phenomenon; Evolution, Religion and the Unknown God, (2011); and Preparing for the Miraculous, containing the eleven  lectures Georges had given in 2010-2011 at Auroville’s Savitri Bhavan and Town Hall. With Georges’ passing, the Auroville community worldwide has lost a friend and one of the few exegetes of Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s views.

The pdf.files of this issue can be downloaded here
We wish you happy reading.



August 2012

This issue of Auroville Today is publishing, among others, the next articles:

  • Psychological challenges
  • Interview with Barbara
  • Interview with Michael Zelnick
  • Interviewing Meenakshi
  • Interview with Dr. Alek Pandey
  • The decisive moment
  • Petal pilgrimage
  • Planning the city: a new way forward
  • This music breaks barriers

The pdf.files of this issue can be downloaded here
We wish you happy reading.


June-July 2012

This issue of Auroville Today is publishing the next articles:

  • Summer reflections
  • Interview with Deepti
  • Interview with Anandi (Satchitananda Food Restaurant)
  • Interview with Shakti
  • Interview with Ashesh
  • Interview with Anandi (PTDC and Housing Service)
  • The Galaxy plan debate
  • The Economy debate
  • Village Action

and others...

The pdf.files of this issue can be downloaded here


May 2012

This issue of Auroville Today is publishing the next articles:

  • Trees vs. roads, city vs. forests
  • Cyclone Thane recovery work continues
  • The Auroville Health Fund
  • The needs of Auroville’s seniors
  • Is an Auroville Information Service feasible?
  • The General Meeting of April 5th
  • International House Take Two
  • Architecture should go together with lifestyle
  • Poppo Pingel: a monograph

and others...

The pdf.files of this issue can be downloaded here


April 2012

In October 2009, Auroville Today wrote about the health hazard caused by the Puducherry municipal landfill site at Karuvadikuppam, less than 4 kilometres from the Matrimandir. The thick clouds of grey smoke, produced by the burning of plastic trash at the landfill, wafted over Auroville and the villages of Edaiyanchavady and Morattandi in the hot dry summer and caused headaches, nausea and sore throats. The article ended on the hopeful note that soon measures would be taken to address the problem. What has happened since? Quite a lot, it appears. Due to the good collaboration with the Puducherry government and PMSPL, for the first time in years Auroville may enjoy a summer without the toxic fumes of burning plastic from the nearby landfill.

There was general rejoicing on receiving the news of the appointment of Mr. Bala Baskar as Secretary of the Auroville Foundation. Mr. Bala Baskar had been Secretary from 1996 till 2001 and was very well appreciated for his dedication as well for upholding the ideals of Auroville. He was welcomed back in an open meeting with the community on the roof of the Solar Kitchen on March 22nd. An interview.

In the section ‘Auroville Region’ we report on a half-day workshop on a Sustainable Regional Plan for Auroville, Viluppuram and Cuddalore which was held in Auroville on March 16th. It is ambitious, but that’s no hindrance for INTACH Pondicherry, PondyCAN and Auroville’s Town Development Council to jointly try manifesting a model Inter-State Sustainable Regional Development Plan for a vast, 2,540 sq. kms large area which has three major towns, Puducherry, Cuddalore, and Viluppuram, and an estimated population of 4.6 million people.

In May, 2009, Auroville Today reported that six new apartment buildings – Luminosity, Maitreye, Arati 3, Realization, Citadines and Joy (as it was then called) – were planned or under construction. All these projects were completed at least a year ago. In the article ‘Joys and disappointments: apartment living in Auroville’ we provide the first feedback from some of the residents.

On the Golden Day, February 29, 2012, the main hall of the Unity Pavilion in the International Zone was opened. Like a bottle of champagne being uncorked, the entire day was filled with activities. The Peace Table for Asia, which was donated to Auroville by The Nakashima Foundation for Peace and inaugurated on the Golden Day of February 29, 1996, is now placed here, waiting for the Hall of Peace, a separate section of the Unity Pavilion, to be finished.

Creating a contemplative garden is the title of an interview with garden designer and Zen monk Martin Mosko. He recently visited Auroville, during which time he worked with the Matrimandir gardens design team and gave a public presentation on landscape as sacred space. Asked about the design of the Matrimandir gardens, he called them ‘jewel boxes, like a necklace around the Matrimandir, three-dimensional artworks which use plant materials and landscaping to express a particular quality or qualities that have been defined by The Mother.’

In the section ‘passings’ we write about Governing Board member Ajoy Bagchi, who passed away on March 5th in New Delhi at the age of 80, and who ranks amongst the best friends Auroville ever had and who was, of all Governing Board members, decidedly the most involved in Auroville.

In the section ‘dance’ we report on the Holi Tango Festival where expert teachers from Italy taught tango to a group of people from all over India and Auroville. The teaching was based on observation and aimed at a simplification of Tango, bringing it back to its essential features of elegant sobriety.

The last article in this issue is a report on the Auroville International meeting in Gujarat.

The pdf.files of this issue can be downloaded here


March 2012 

In the published conversations of The Mother on Auroville, the high expectations She had of the Aurovilians stand out. “Auroville voudrait être le berceau du surhomme” She wrote, ‘Auroville wants to be the cradle of the overman.’ Georges Van Vrekhem, the author of numerous books on Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, gives his views on this.

In the article ‘Patterns and predictability’ Alan reflects on why Auroville’s society is so very ordinary at present. “Like anywhere else in the world, we have our politicians who manipulate and bully to get their way; we have those who enrich themselves at the community’s expense; we have a thriving bureaucracy; we have our permanently disaffected ones who seem to draw energy only from protest; we have our freeloaders; and we have those who are intent only on cultivating their own gardens or businesses,” he writes. Why? ...

The issue further carries an interview with Elumalai, who joined the Bakery team in December 1995 and why he was baking bread on the night of cyclone Thane. It also carries a report on the new ‘Reach for the Stars’ college scholarship initiative for village students, which is having much success but now faces the challenge of meeting the needs in its second year. And there is a report on emailing in India and in Auroville where the internet service for guests leaves much to be desired. Lastly, Dianne gives seven lessons for those who get ill in Auroville and will have to experience Indian and Auroville health services.

Sports in Auroville, it appears, have been taken to a whole new level. We have fanatical mountaineers, rock climbers and long distance cyclists. In February, Auroville hosted two extreme sporting events: the only Ultimate Frisbee Hat Tournament in India and the 5th annual Auroville Marathon, and those are only the official gatherings. Catherine writes on how Aurovilians are coping with sports.

In the section ‘language learning’ we report on the work of two teachers Tamil. “I have come to the conclusion that Tamil is difficult to teach and to learn for Westerners as it is not a ‘mental’ language,” explains Kirshna, one of the teachers. “It is a very lively and vocal language and is highly complex when reduced to grammar and rules.” Shankar, another teacher, agrees. “Without hearing each phonetic sound it is extremely difficult for Westerners to understand the word. This is why I am now teaching the Tamil script. The students should make an effort from the beginning to learn the letters as it is really the only way to master the correct pronunciation.”

Auroville International held its yearly meeting this time in Auroville, and AVI members had a close interaction with many Auroville working groups. From such exchanges, one important role of AVI members became increasingly clear, writes Martin Littlewood. “Their goodwill, commitment and passion for the experiment of Auroville is obvious, but their level of detachment from daily preoccupations seems to bring another perspective to the work, and sometimes helps to unblock situations which have for many years been unmoving.”

In the section ‘new books’ we introduce the children’s book ‘Tell me, my friend, what is this Auroville?’ which was released on February 7th at the Unity Pavilion. Beautifully illustrated by Jyoti Khare and with texts by Christine Devin, the book opens with the story of a lonely Banyan tree which was to become the centre of a city. For so it had been decided by a Lady who was living in a room a few kilometres away in Pondicherry. Why? …

Another new publication is ‘Footsteps through the salad’, a book with 65 articles on various forms of wildlife in Auroville and 7 on natural phenomena such as cyclones, the monsoon and nature’s agents of destruction. ‘Footsteps through the salad’ covers virtually all the common life-forms to be found in Auroville and is delightfully written for the layman by Tim Wrey.

The third publication featured is ‘The Tale of my Exile’, a book written by Sri Aurobindo’s younger brother Barindra Ghose, popularly known as Barin, who was convicted in the Alipore Bomb Case and sentenced to death. On appeal, this was commuted to transportation for life to the Andaman Cellular Jail. Sachidananda Mohanty’s excellent introduction provides a brief overview of Barin’s life before and after the Andamans. More importantly, it clarifies the relationship between the two brothers and shows how, even if their later life trajectories differed, both shared an intensity of spiritual search and an undying opposition to any form of human oppression.

The fourth publication is the photo book ‘Pondicherry’ with photos of Sebastian Cortés who has been living in Auroville for the last seven years, and essays by Pascal Bruckner, Akash Kapur, and Amin Jaffer. To accompany the book launch, Aurodhan Gallery in Pondicherry put on an exhibition featuring some of the photos. Auroville Today interviewed Sebastian.

The pdf.files of this issue can be downloaded here.


February 2012

The aftermath of Cyclone Thane is the main topic of the February 2012 issue of Auroville Today. The main article gives an overview of the damage and of the work done. Other articles deal with the work to re-electrify Auroville; putting up solar panels and solar back-up systems to help Aurovilians without current; the effect of the cyclone on the housing situation and on the forests; what lessons Auroville has to learn from this; and the effect of the cyclone in the surrounding villages.

The second main topic of this issue deals with how to obtain a sustainable and uninterrupted power supply. On January 6th, Michael Bonke, Toine van Megen and Harald Kraft made presentations about Auroville’s present and future energy and drinking water scenario. They suggested a solution for the daily power cuts by using the Matrimandir Lake and an uphill lake to be built elsewhere in Auroville. The upper lake could be filled from the Matrimandir Lake when the current is cheap; during power cuts, water from the upper lake could flow down into the Matrimandir Lake through a turbine, and so generate electricity. The lakes themselves would be filled using harvested rainwater and desalinated seawater. In a separate article, Toine gives his vision for Auroville and Tamil Nadu energy.

In the section ‘organisation’ we report on the method in which the new Working Committee and Auroville Council have been selected, which was a result of compromises and bullying. A new method will now have to be found.

The issue also contains a report on three exhibitions, a pottery exhibition titled ‘Jeff Shapiro and Friends’ at Kala Kendra in Bharat Nivas, a paper exhibition ‘Did you say paper?’ at the Citadyn Art Centre and an exhibition of collages ‘Presence’ at Savitri Bhavan. The first exhibition, held after Shapiro’s workshop in Pondicherry for which students came from around the world, showed a collection of strikingly original ceramic art pieces. The second exhibition using papier-mâché reflected the high standard that Auroville art can reach when a strong foundational concept is implemented with much thought, refined imagination and hard work. The third exhibition showed the delicate work of Jyoti Khare, who had made collages from portions of sarees that belonged to The Mother with some artworks featuring a photograph of The Mother embedded in its centre.

In this issue we also publish the obituaries of Rosine, Saraswathi Devi, P. Sundaram and D. Perumal.

The pdf.files of this issue can be downloaded here.


January 2012

On Friday December 30, cyclone Thane hit the states of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry with heavy rains and wind speeds of up to 135 kmph (83 mph) and tidal surges of up to 1.5 metres (5 feet). The cyclone slammed the coast from Chennai to Karaikal. The Villupuram district is among the worst hit as the cyclone’s eye was between Cuddalore and Pondicherry.
Auroville was in the midst of Thane’s direct fury, leaving widespread devastation in its trail. Thousands of trees have been uprooted or decapitated; houses, schools, offices, industries and public buildings were damaged due to heavy winds and falling trees. The Auroville community asks its friends and well-wishers for financial help, which is most urgent.
A second topic of this issue deals the Auroville Educational Resource Center, better known as Isai Ambalam School, one of Auroville’s outreach schools for village children whose motto is ‘educational innovation’. Over the years its work has become successful – in fact so successful that some of its methods are now being practiced in over 30,000 schools in Tamil Nadu.

Also in the section ‘outreach education’ we portray the work of the Ilaignarkal Education Centre which provides further education for Auroville workers, gardeners, household helpers and their children.

We also write about the Thamarai Health Education and Healing Centre in the middle of Edayanchavadi, which is visited by villagers who come for health check-ups and treatments. But its main focus is on educating the youth. Between December 2010 and May 2011, the Centre experimented by giving weekly art therapy classes to a group of village adolescents. The experience is successful, and a book containing the stories of of the teenagers “Blooming Thamarai, Art and Stories by Edaiyanchavadi Village Youth in India” is now available from the centre.

In the section ‘profiles’ we publish an interview with Minhaj Ameen, better known as Min, who comments on Auroville’s economic structure.

The Universal Sustainable Integral Design Foundation, which has many ideals in common with Auroville, held its 5th anniversary conference in Auroville and used he work that has happened in Auroville over the last four decades to inspire the participants, the theme of the conference being Design for Social Innovation & Sustainable Development. It was, writes Dharmesh, a success. “Three days of this interaction with the best people in diverse fields showed us how Auroville can learn from the experience and wealth of this generation of innovators from India and abroad.”

In the section ‘services’ we report on Litter Free Auroville – Two Years After. Twenty-four months ago, the Litter Free Auroville (LFA) campaign was the hot topic. There was a massive clean-up and a daylong fair full of exhibits, posters, plays and more. Over 1800 people attended from Auroville and the bioregion. What happened since?

In the section ‘alternative energy’ we report on a new development, the on-grid battery-less system based on solar photovoltaics, where power from the solar panels is produced for one’s own needs and any excess power generated is fed into the main grid.

The pdf.files of this issue can be downloaded here.

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