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Aurovillage 19 B

[Part B, continuation of episode 19 A]

Let us have a closer look at the message the Aurovillagers have added on Thursday 27 January as an “update” to their online petition. What are the claims, and do they reflect reality? Please bear with me: it takes a few seconds to write short, false claims, but it takes hours to explain what the reality is behind the false statement, and why it in reality is nothing but a lie.

Almost 7 weeks after the bulldozers wreaked havoc on Auroville land

Words matter, remember that always. JCBs are just a tool, and used since long in Auroville. In fact, they have been mainly used by the Aurovillagers themselves: they are the ones with the large plots of land and the big works to be done. How else were all the water catchment pits dug? By almost-naked labourers, like on the cherished pictures from the 70s? Nobody cried foul when a week or so ago a JCB came into Humanscapes and dug some water drainage trench. So JCBs are a useful tool when the Aurovillagers use them, but they “wreak havoc” when they are used for works that the Aurovillagers oppose. The JCBs are not a problem here at all. The dramatic talk about bulldozers is only there to whip up the emotional reactions.

and divided the community,

This community has ALWAYS been divided. The rift between the Aurovilians and the Aurovillagers was there from the very start: people who came for Mother's Dream and people who came for comfort, license and profiteering have always been in conflict here. And because profiteers have less scruples, they generally win such fights.

The Aurovillagers have always challenged the city developers and pushed things to the limit where there is no other option but to use PHYSICAL FORCE in order to be able to create the infrastructure of the Master Plan. Which is really the last resort anywhere, let alone for Aurovilians who came for the promise of a different, harmonious life based on spiritual growth. So they never did. Which meant the Aurovillagers did on the ground whatever they pleased. Why does nobody call this out or stand up 'en masse' against such immature provocations? Because the endless false reasoning of the Aurovillagers has lead many residents to believe and accept that such anti-social behaviour (pushing the other to “dare” use physical force/violence and because they don't, “winning the argument”) is how “community” functions. Many people by now simply shrug when they hear all the verbal fighting and think that, well, this is “Auroville”. A “difficult experiment” with its “ups and downs”. As in any cult, a large part of the residents here have been “taught” that aggressive emotional blackmail is how you “live together in harmony”.

the Residents Assembly responded with a historic vote,

Historic in the sense that so far, apart from one freak event a few years ago, RADs excited next to nobody. The decisions of the Residents' Assembly were either simply ignored, or considered irrelevant for most people. As explained in episode 18, once the fight against the SAS was won, there wasn't really anything to fight for anymore, and hence there was nothing to meet or vote for anymore. Later on the rules of the voting (which, once more, was never supposed to happen in Auroville) were put in such a way that almost anything would be acceptable. Everything was set up to have as little change as possible for as long as possible. The two “historic” voting results were both about a threat from the government to bring sudden, drastic change. Still, “historic” as this vote may have been, it still inspired no more than 35% of the Auroville adult population. I am not sure if a “35% voter turnout” is what the readers of this “update” imagine when they hear about a “historic vote”. Interesting that the Aurovillagers do not mention this figure of total adult population at all, no?

showing near unanimity on the question of Auroville’s development.

More of the same: according to the announcement of the Residents' Assembly Service themselves, out of 2,427 registered adults, 899 people voted, of whom 803 agreed with the proposal to “pause” the works and 96 didn't. That indeed results in 89% of the votes being “yes”. But, not mentioned anywhere: 65% of the residents abstained from voting. We obviously don't know exactly why people did not vote and how they would have voted if the vote had somehow been compulsory. But still, when people read that the residents of Auroville showed “near unanimity”, do they realise that this is a near total victory WITHIN ONLY 35% of the adult Auroville population?

One side remark: we know of two persons who wanted to cancel their participation and their online vote. The voting event lasted no less than 15 days – which will probably come as a total weird surprise to outside people, as elections and referenda all over the world take place in one single day. During these two weeks, canvassing went on relentlessly (also quite unlike normal democratic practices) and votes can be changed. But these persons were not allowed to withdraw their vote. Why not? It would only have enlarged their “smashing victory”. Then again, only a few persons would have had access to the data and known this (hopefully). The logical answer is that they wanted to have as high a number of voters as they possibly could get. How many residents have asked or would have wanted to withdraw their vote during these 15 days? We don't know. We don't know anything in fact. We don't even know if the numbers we are given are correct. So far, nobody has been allowed to check even if the voter list is correct. If anyone has the illusion that voter fraud would never happen in Auroville: in the last selection event (a 2-3 day event for election of working group members by voting, attended by anyone who wants to cast their vote), the ballot boxes were messed with before they were counted.

Once again: these 50,000+ signatories are given these simple, very short lines. How many of them will ever suspect that behind these few, triumphant words lies the hidden reality of the undemocratic nonsense that happens in these RADs?

This was the highest Resident Assembly turnout in recent history,

“Recent history”? As in “compared to what happened here in the 1800s”?

despite a campaign to scare residents away from the ballot box

Notice the use of the word “scare”. Twice, a message was posted by us to ask people not to vote, and not participate in a process that was “illegal” since the Residents' Assembly has no right to oppose the work that the Governing Board undertakes. If that is “scaring residents”, they simply have to read the Auroville Foundation Act parts that were quoted in part A of this episode. The whole rebellion that is being mounted by the Aurovillage cult has a much higher risk of becoming scary.

At the same time, the Aurovillagers relentlessly canvassed during the whole 2 weeks, and on top of that, every registered voter received three or four emails from the Residents' Assembly Service to “remind” them that they should participate.

with false claims about the legal standing of the Residents Assembly.

It can't be repeated enough: the Auroville Foundation Act (1988) makes very clear that the legal standing of the RA is that it can advise the Governing Board, register Aurovilians according to the regulations set by the GB, propose organisations to the GB, propose fundraisers to the GB, and also organise activities. Please read the Act and see for yourself who is making false claims.

This has now become the core of the conflict: do the people actually have a say in their own development?

What they mean is “do the Aurovillagers have the right to hijack Auroville, and turn it into the opposite of what it was created for?”

But at least they admit it's a battle about who gets to rule and own Auroville. Note how they always use broad, encompassing terms like “the people”, making it seem that they speak for all of us.

The pressure from authorities on residents to back down from active participation in community processes and to "fall in line" keeps mounting.

Once again, this is not a fight between the “Aurovilians” and the “authorities”.

The Foundation has as far as I know not even said a word about the whole RAD event, up until this moment of writing.

The “falling in line” is quite interesting. Because WHAT exactly are we invited to “fall in line” with? From everything that has been said and done by the new Secretary and Governing Board so far, the intention is nothing more than to do what Mother asked us to do. Is that so horrifying to the Aurovillagers?

The government-appointed secretary to the Auroville Foundation recently forced foreign residents renewing their visas to sign a statement pledging allegiance to the undemocratic Town Development Committee and their top-down imposition of the Crown Road.

There's so much twisting here that it creates a whole new galaxy of its own. It is clearly written in the Auroville Foundation Act that ALL the members of the Governing Board and International Advisory Council are appointed by the Central Government. According to the booklet The Genesis of the Auroville Foundation Act, which is a transcript of a talk by Aurovillager Alain Bernard, the government officials involved in the creation of the Act were aware of the endless fights going on here, and didn't want either the SAS NOR THE AUROVILIANS to have power over Auroville! So they vested all final decision-making powers in a government-appointed Governing Board.

Next point: nobody was ever asked to pledge allegiance to the ATDC. How they can just write this blatant lie is beyond me. The declaration requires us to sign that we will not oppose the Master Plan. This Master Plan was created and approved by the very same Residents' Assembly in 1999. Obviously, at that time the Aurovillagers had hardly any interest in RADs and therefore there was a very low attendance and vote. But if we're talking about historical unanimity: from what I understand the vote was 99 against 1 with 1 abstaining. Please think about this very blatant contradiction: if the Aurovillagers care so much about building the city in a harmonious, all-together and participatory way, if it is all about the “how” it is today implemented, then why on earth were they totally absent in that RAD, that turned out to be a lot more “historical” than the present one? Next: the “top-down imposition”. I hope that by now readers get an idea of why that might not be an accurate description of what has been happening here over the past 50 years: Galaxy Plan was here in 1968 / everybody knew that the roads were going to come and where / endless ridicule of the Galaxy and the City / agreements joyfully disrespected / implementation blocked by forcing the use of violence which was never done / trees and buildings put on top of the road locations to “protest” and create difficulties once the road needed to be paved / “pausing” the Crown Road works for 12 years / intimidation of and ganging up against members of the ATDC / blunt refusal instead of willingness to create together / endless meetings with the new Secretary / agreements never kept. And then shock and outrage when, after 30-40 years, someone finally calls it a day, and decides that 40 years of bs is enough.

But well, let's just simply “inform” our signatories of a “top-down imposition”, why not. And once again, the famous Auroville “democracy”. How much more repetition do we need? Auroville was never supposed to have democracy, as it can never work as pretended, and from everything exposed so far, I leave it up to you to decide for yourselves how “democratic” the Aurovillagers are.

After weeks of public outcry, the Foundation Office backed down and residents were told that the document was "a pilot/ draft to get a pulse …"

The “outcry” was once again only from the unhappy few. The Foundation Office sent a reply to a question about the declaration form from the Working Committee, in which they stated that the wording is not yet final. The declaration as far as I know is still being signed. The Governing Board, as we have seen, has the power to set the regulations for admission and termination into the registry of Auroville residents. Then the Secretariat gagged and threatened to confiscate all the assets of Auroville's Outreach Media, the community's liaison office for domestic and international journalists. As already described in episode 15, Outreach Media, by its sole executive and staff member Fabienne, went on a rampage to get international public attention and support AGAINST THE AUROVILLE FOUNDATION from the moment the clearing of the last parts of the Crown Road RoW started. The propaganda war was on and the Foundation asked her kindly to desist. She didn't and thus was asked to surrender the assets to the Foundation. Anyone can see for themselves how “gagged” Fabienne has been: she simply continues until this day and refuses all cooperation. She, backed up by the FAMC and probably many of the 803 Aurovillagers, claim ownership and governing rights over Auroville assets. Once again, we see the blatant disrespectful defiance to push us and the Foundation Office to use physical violence in order to have a ground reality in which the Aurovillagers do not hold the power over Auroville. The Auroville Foundation is forced to use force in order to get back its own property (the Act is unequivocal about this: all assets belong to the Foundation, as it is the only legal body that can possibly own them). “Confiscating” is what you do when to take something that does not belong to you. You cannot use that word when you take back what is legally yours. Clearly, media attention is annoying to the authorities.

It generally isn't, as they show by their own craving for exactly that. (Remember, as discussed in episode 5, that they consider all “authority” to always be “the other”, never themselves: they see and portray themselves always as the freedom fighters, no matter what role they play. They may hold loads of power and act in a totally authoritarian way, it makes no difference: it is a matter of identity, not of situation.) The reaction is not because of the media attention, but because of the abuse of media relations, built up over 25 years, to spread lies.

This move was blocked by a rare show of solidarity from Auroville’s official finance body - the Funds and Assets Management Committee (FAMC) - who reminded her that Auroville assets are not government property.

The “rare show of solidarity” is an interesting slip-of-the-tongue by the Aurovillagers. Suddenly we get to know that solidarity is a rare commodity in this so peaceful, harmonious and spiritual community. Interesting.

There is nothing “official” about the FAMC, in the sense that they make it seem: something beyond the authority of the Governing Board or the Auroville Foundation. Obviously, that is meaningless, as all these bodies can only be officially created and approved by the Governing Board. The FAMC is obviously meant to look after the Auroville assets FOR the Governing Board, and never against it: this would be absurd. It is within the powers of the Governing Board to dissolve it, or, just as with Outreach Media, request to turn over all of the assets for its own use. What the Aurovillagers are insinuating with their wording, is that somehow, the Resident's Assembly is an autonomous body floating somewhere in space where neither the Auroville Foundation, the Secretary, the Governing Board or even the Government of India have any say over it anymore. Seriously, I'm not joking. There are plenty of comments by the Aurovillagers that “Auroville is not India” and that “Auroville belongs to Humanity as a whole”, and that it is the place “which no nation could claim as its own”. Even though the last two are quotes from the Mother, it is obvious that that is not yet where we are today. (And these absurd colonial rebellions won't make it any better of course.) The legal reality today is that Auroville is a project under the Ministry of Education of India. And that all assets belong to the Auroville Foundation, which in turn belongs to the Central Government. Almost all of the present FAMC members are Aurovillagers: part of the group that has started the fight against all requests to accept the actual, lawful decision power of the Governing Board. Obviously, the FAMC will support the complete twisting of reality and reinforce that weird claim of Auroville assets not being government property. Whose property they then are is a great question. I suppose they claim that it belongs to THEM? Personally? Or maybe to the Aurovillage collective? It's all extremely convoluted. Again, please check the Act for yourself to get an idea.

Finally, in the latest intimidatory measure, the Governing Board announced that it intends to push through land clearing regardless of any decision by the Residents Assembly.

Reality: shortly after the most recent Governing Board meeting, they have sent out a very short press communiqué in which they confirm their intentions of their November meeting, in which they stated their clear goal of finally moving on with the city and scrutinising and restructuring most of Auroville's organisation (which is totally dysfunctional – I have since long the intention to write an episode about the administrative situation here, stay tuned for more incredible-but-true absurdities!).

The note is very short, and it does not mention the Residents' Assembly anywhere. I challenge anyone to show me the “announcement” from the Governing Board in which they state that they intend “to push through land clearing regardless of any decision by the Residents' Assembly”. With the information I have today, it is a complete lie and concoction by the Aurovillagers.

We are now at a stalemate between these two main bodies making up Auroville’s governance,

No, we aren't. There is no stalemate whatsoever. These “two main bodies” have nothing in common, and only ONE of them makes up the governance of Auroville.

Shouting a million times that black is white does not make black white.

while the third leg, the International Advisory Council is unsure how to respond.

In the face of so much insanity, anyone would become unsure how to respond.

Most of the IAC members have at least a correct understanding of what is written in the Foundation Act, and therefore know very clearly that the whole issue is completely absurd. However, they are under immense emotional pressure from the Aurovillagers, as is almost everybody at the moment. The IAC are supposed to guide Auroville from some spiritual and wise, higher standpoint. Good luck, when one of the members is themself an Aurovillager. How to come up with an intelligent, truthful statement signed by all, in such a situation, is obviously not an easy task.

The National Green Tribunal verdict is expected any day now, and this could sway the balance of power in either direction.

There is no balance of power. At all. There never was. The Governing Board has power, the RA has none. And the verdict can only sway in one direction, if common sense and legality have still any value for the National Green Tribunal. The Aurovillagers know this so well, that they have several members camping out in Delhi right now, ready with a big appeal dossier to race to the Supreme Court immediately upon the announcement of the verdict. That's how much confidence in their own legal arguments they have.

Meanwhile in Delhi, the annual Republic Day parade saw a celebration of Sri Aurobindo seated on top of a model of Auroville's Matrimandir, amidst other symbols of central government power.

That was the tableau of the Ministry of Culture, celebrating Sri Aurobindo's 150 birthday. How exactly is a statue of Sri Aurobindo atop the Matrimandir a “symbol of central government power”? The other depictions on the float were about Sri Aurobindo's life. Are those also “symbols of central government power”? Because they showed Allipore Jail? Where Sri Aurobindo was imprisoned for one year by the British colonisers? I can only have a wild guess, as there's nothing rational to go by. Every expression of real devotion to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is suspect for the Aurovillage cult. Why did they want to live in the city named after Sri Aurobindo in the first place?

This petition – currently at 51,000 signatures - is addressed to the Prime Minister because in today's political climate the only voice that is taken seriously is the voice from "above". We want to remind the Prime Minister that Auroville is not a central government playground. It belongs to humanity as a whole.

They address the petition to the Prime Minister, who was involved in appointing our new Secretary and Governing Board, who they fight and insult. In which universe is the Prime Minister going to chastise his appointees?

And once again: read the Act. It was created to legalise the full acquisition of Auroville BY THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT. However much I love the Auroville Charter, "humanity as a whole" is not yet a legal body. If you fight a legal battle, you have to stick to legal arguments.

Note the wording: "a central government playground". It's quite a bit arrogant and derogative. It also insinuates that THEY are ruling Auroville in sensible and mature way, which is as far from any truth as you can get.

We are grateful for the support given by his administration, and invite him to honour the spirit of the Auroville Foundation Act,

The Auroville Foundation Act gives the legal framework for the take-over of Auroville by the Central Government from the Sri Aurobindo Society. And it details how the Central Government, through the Auroville Foundation, run by officers appointed by the Central Government, is going to run this newly appropriated project. What exactly is its “spirit”? The three Aurovillage members of the Working Committee also mentioned this new entity. Hopefully we'll be given a legal definition of it soon, so that we can honour it according to its powers and functions in the Auroville Foundation Act.

which calls for brotherhood and compromise rather than hierarchy and oppression.

Everything these people have done here for decades, was without the least bit of concern for brotherhood and compromise, and functioned through bullying and extortion (the latest RAD is a clear example of that). Blocking, fighting, bullying, intimidation, everything except brotherhood. “Hierarchy and oppression” don't need to be “official” in order to exist.

We urge you to share this petition widely, and help us reach our goal of 100,000 signatures by next week, when the National Green Tribunal will announce its findings – which will determine the future of Auroville.

No, it won't. Stop being so utterly over-dramatic. Whatever happens, the only thing you achieved was to delay the progress of Auroville – for the umpteenth time. Your reign of falsehood here is over. Your Aurovillage is dead. It is a miracle it was allowed to live this long. But finally, it is now gone. Your disgraceful abuse of Auroville, its name, its land, its ideals, its beautiful and magical vision: that ugly aberration has come to an end. Get over it already. Auroville is moving on. With or without you.

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