Resistance to Auroville city project distressing, says R.N. Ravi

Governing board chairman reaffirms the board’s resolve to fulfil its mandate to implement the master plan and promote the ideals of Auroville; addresses the Auroville community at the Unity Pavilion convened to share “serious concerns over the state of affairs in Auroville”

November 09, 2022 01:59 am | Updated 01:59 am IST - PUDUCHERRY

Auroville governing board chairman and Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi addressing the Auroville community.

Auroville governing board chairman and Tamil Nadu Governor R.N. Ravi addressing the Auroville community. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In his first direct remarks about the controversy over implementing the envisaged Auroville plan, Auroville governing board chairman and Tamil Nadu Governor R. N. Ravi said it was distressing to see such a small family riven by so many differences, even as he reaffirmed the board’s resolve to fulfil its mandate to implement the master plan and promote the ideals of Auroville.

According to a press note from Auroville Media Interface, the governing board chairman noted with regret that reports and videos made in bad taste had been shared with national and international media, and circulated on social media, alleging that Auroville was being destroyed by an authoritarian administration. Some residents had even gone to court, he said, while addressing the Auroville community at the Unity Pavilion, International Zone at a meeting on Monday convened expressly to share “serious concerns over the state of affairs in Auroville”.

The Governing Board was distressed to see this small family of 3,000 divided by so many differences. While all this has harmed the image of Auroville, he stressed that what is more important was its substance. “We don’t need Auroville the brand,” he said, “but we need the Auroville soul,” he added. He stated that the Governing Board’s mandate was to promote the ideals of Auroville and to implement the Auroville Master Plan, prepared by the Governing Board in consultation with the Residents Assembly, which was notified in 2010 in the gazette after a process that lasted decades. “Unfortunately, the implementation of the Master Plan has been met with resistance from some people while others support the development of the Auroville township as planned”.

According to Mr. Ravi, the Government of India has given extraordinary facilities for the growth of Auroville such as the visa for foreign nationals and tax exemptions. These have been given with the trust that Auroville will grow in accordance with its ideals. Unfortunately, Government agencies have evidence of several violations within Auroville, such as substance abuse and other illegal activities, he said. He noted with regret that currently it was being debated who had more power, the Governing Board or the Residents Assembly. The Governing Board recognised only two powers: the Constitution and laws of India on the one hand, and the Charter and the vision of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, on the other. India could not allow Auroville to fail because it carries the greatest Indian universal ideal of unity, of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, he added.

The chairman urged Aurovilians to reflect on how the ideals could be restored; stating that the Government of India had to step in once, and it would be unfortunate if they had to step in again. He noted that The Mother had founded Auroville in 1968, but the Government of India was compelled to take over the management of Auroville in 1980 as it lapsed into a state of disarray, leading to the framing of the Auroville Foundation Act, 1988. “Therefore, the issues at hand had to be confronted, the status quo cannot remain. The core, the Charter, the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, must be respected and restored as the centre of life in Auroville”, he said. Touching on his recent visits to different places in Auroville, Mr. Ravi observed that instead of being a place of meditation for Aurovilians, the place was serving as more of a tourist attraction. Some Auroville units, he noted, were only doing conventional trading and commerce. Farms were still not able to produce enough food for a community this small.

Mr. Ravi called for evolving a framework of functioning for the residents to further the practice of Integral Yoga. He urged the residents to offer their constructive suggestions, within a week, on how to restore Auroville’s ideals as its centre. The feedback will be reviewed and taken forward constructively, he said. The Unity Pavilion address was organised prior to the Governing Board Meeting on Tuesday, which was attended by Lt. Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, Jayanti Ravi, Auroville Foundation Secretary and other members.

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