‘Focus is on fast-tracking Perspective 2025’

Jayanti S. Ravi, secretary of Auroville Foundation.   | Photo Credit: S.S. Kumar

Jayanti S. Ravi, the newly-appointed Secretary of Auroville Foundation, is advocating a mission-mode approach to advance the vision of Mirra Alfassa (The Mother) for Auroville, the universal township she founded on February 28, 1968.

Auroville’s Master Plan (Perspective 2025) is a blueprint, evolved from The Mother’s envisioning of a galaxy-shaped experimental township — the founder’s Auroville Charter conceived it as a piece of earth belonging to none in particular but rather to humanity as a whole, a place of unending education and a bridge between the past and the future.

Under the 2025 perspective plan, Auroville would house an integrated global community of 50,000 with the Matrimandir as its soul.

“Auroville now has a community of over 3,000 members from 58 countries. We need to have the social infrastructure in place if we are to rededicate ourselves to the Mother’s goal,” Ms. Jayanti Ravi, who will be on deputation for a period of three years, told The Hindu.

Since getting started on the “unique assignment”, Ms. Jayanti Ravi has been reading up on The Mother and listening to a diverse spectrum of the residents, from old-timers to the youth, to appreciate their views and aspirations for Auroville’s path to the future.

“The development of Auroville has to be wholly community-driven. I see my role as more of a facilitator,” said Ms. Jayanti Ravi, a 1991-batch IAS officer of Gujarat cadre, who hails from Chennai.

And, what better occasion for a fresh impetus to the pursuit of the vision than the 150th birth anniversary year of The Mother’s spiritual mentor, Sri Aurobindo, she says.

Emphasis on timelines

“Apart from moving away from tourism as a revenue stream...which was an important learning from the COVID-19 pandemic...it is important for Auroville to show a demonstrable commitment to implementation of projects against specific timelines. This can, in turn, bolster the case for more Budgetary support,” said the AF secretary.

One of the priorities is to expedite land acquisition for Auroville — a two-front challenge of acquiring new lands as well as regaining the encroached terrain — with the support of the Tamil Nadu administration.

The master plan for systematic development on an area of about 2,000 ha includes establishing residential zone, international zone, industrial zone and cultural zone.

Detailed project plan

A detailed project plan is being prepared to expedite the implementation of pending proposals, including starting off on the Crown project — a circular lifeline-like pathway ringing the Matrimandir, interconnecting the zones and featuring colonnades, plazas, cafes, cinema halls, exhibition galleries and art studios.

The Town Development Council has been tasked with evolving an action plan with the in-house expertise of pioneering architect Balkrishna Doshi.

The Auroville governing board is also being reconstituted shortly, the Secretary said.

On whether managing diversity in Auroville can be as much a challenge as its strength, especially for evolving a consensus on the way forward, Ms. Jayanti Ravi says she is optimistic that even in a situation of conflicting views, the shared vision would ultimately prevail as an unifying force for the community.

The Auroville community, she said, needs only to look within to draw inspiration from the incredible spirit of volunteerism of the first caravan of free-thinkers from France, who abandoned material possessions to embrace the philosophy of The Mother, and created a township out of nowhere — an unprecedented afforestation mission that turned a red-brown barren sprawl into the richly green bio-region of today.

Auroville is protected by a unique Act of Parliament of 1988. The UNESCO has, since 1966, passed five resolutions endorsing the Auroville project.

“There is, of course, the eternal source of inspiration of The Mother whose far-sightedness led her to imagine in her writings, pedestrian pathways and eco-friendly electric vehicles with speed limits of 15 kph as modes of transportation within Auroville zones as early as the Sixties,” said Ms. Jayanti Ravi.

In fact, there are so many inspiring models that Auroville can impart to the world in aspects spanning human unity, sustainable living/livelihoods, urban settlement planning and successful integration of the global with the local reflected in the co-option of local communities in the Auroville journey.

While there is no illusion of engendering Utopia; the focus, rather, looks to be on attaining the closest approximation of The Mother’s ideal with zero-to-minimum compromise.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 1:45:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/focus-is-on-fast-tracking-perspective-2025/article35778048.ece

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