Updated: Apr 28, 2022
The truth will come out, there is nothing that the cult can do to stop this collapse.
For this episode, I share the full letter that the Fab Four of the Working Committee have just published.
I know for a fact that Anu, Arun, Partha and Srimoyi have tried everything they could to “make it work”, to do the right thing and keep functioning as one group. Heck, two of them have even very often declared that they wanted to be neutral, and have tried everything in their power to be accommodating and open to the Aurovillage arguments! With the result that they got flack from both sides at one point. Including from me!
As a very simple example, they trusted that Hemant and Sauro would do the right thing in the night of December 4th till December 5th. These two members of the Working Committee went to the clearing works in the Youth Centre woods, and made sure they were stopped instead of making sure nobody was interrupting, as they should have done.
Another brilliant result of this move is that this suddenly totally turns the Aurovillagers' weapon against themselves: they have installed a drawn-out voting process that lasts 2 weeks. Obviously in order to make sure they can twist as many arms as they can possibly lay their hands on, and gather votes in order to give credibility to their pseudo-democracy.
Now suddenly: boom! The 4 – who are the quorum of the WC – have decided to immediately ask the 3 to step down, while the 3 have to wait another 11 days before they can triumphantly claim they have deposed the 4!
And they wanted to get a Working Committee under their control very urgently, in order to be able to sue the Foundation as the Working Committee, representing the Residents' Assembly. At least, they want to give credibility to that lie, by having full control of the Working Committee. As I've said before, they are desperately betting on their false narrative that this is a fight between the Residents' Assembly and the Governing Board/Foundation Office/Government of India. Which obviously is a lie: I myself am part of the Residents' Assembly, as it is defined as comprising of ALL persons listed on the Register of Residents. I know of lots of people who are not in alignment with the cult. There are PLENTY of people on that list that don't vote in the Aurovillagers' “decision making” clown shows, and thus they cannot consolidate in any way their claim to speak for all of us. It's obvious that they only represent AT THE VERY MOST 1/3 of the Residents' Assembly, and STILL they have the guts to constantly claim to be "Auroville" and "the community" or "the Aurovilians". Salient detail: I'm now mainly attacked on my posts by people who are very clearly cult members, but NOT on the Register of Residents.
Whatever their reaction will be, it will totally discredit their narratives about “due process” or “established community procedures”. The only thing they can show is that they don't give two hoots about any process, and always just interpret thing in their favour, completely arbitrarily, without any care for any process.
Did I already mention that at least three present members of working groups were “democratically elected” through the “accepted selection process”, while totally violating the rules that were established through “due process” for these selection processes?
To be eligible to a working group membership, you have to be an Aurovilian for at least 5 years. Angelo wasn't. But oh, the cult wanted its trusted member Angelo in the FAMC (no less), so it didn't matter. You see, the wording was a bit unclear (so useful to have all these kinds of “established procedures” and “community processes” described in rather ambiguous terms): the rule says “be in Auroville” instead of “be an Aurovilian”. And so what does “be in Auroville” exactly mean? That all depends on who we're dealing with. Obviously, it was meant to be "be an Aurovilian", as that rule exists since a long time. But Angelo wasn't , but had hung around here for 5 years, so yea, suddenly we have no other option but to apply the literal text, that's only fair no? For everybody else it would mean exclusion, but in Angelo's case, we need to make exceptions, so all objections were found to be unfounded. Hooray! (Just as when he got a flat in Creativity only because the FAMC decided that and told the Housing Service to flagrantly discard all "established community processes" for allocation of flats and simply give the stewardship to him directly.)
Another rule for eligibility says that you cannot own land in the Master Plan Area. Everybody knows (and if they didn't beforehand, it was clearly pointed out to them at that time) that Suryan has two plots in the Master Plan Area in his name, but once again: hey, here's a white cult member, a “golden generation” Auroville "kid", so our rules do not apply to him, what did you think?
And the Housing Board is totally discredited by having Angelo as a representative for the FAMC, AND his good friend and co-executive of a commercial Auroville unit that deals in construction materials ALSO in the Housing Board, this time as a “member of the community at large”. Conflict of interest anyone? Noooo, only if people who oppose the cult do such things! If WE do it, it's all just hunky-dory and fine, and Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense! [“Shame on him who thinks badly of it”, motto of the English Order of the Garter.]
It's clear that this is not going to be a very smooth ride for the cult, who thought they were so smart. Everything they do is invalidating their own claims... You would start to feel pity for them if you didn't know any better.
Here's the letter. Enjoy!
Anu, Arun, Partha & Srimoyi
Members, Working Committee
Chali, Hemant, Sauro
Members, Working Committee
Date: 27th April, 2022
Given the events of the past months and the pattern on non-cooperation and a lack of transparency within the Working Committee we wish to state the following:
Mandate of the Working Committee
The Working Committee of the Residents' Assembly shall assist the Residents' Assembly or, as the case may be, the Governing Board, in discharging its duties under the Auroville Foundation Act.
Failure to assist the Governing Board
In the past months we have seen a divisiveness growing. Three Working Committee members (Chali, Hemant, Sauro) failed to assist the Governing Board when needed by maintaining a standoffish demeanour and showing general disagreement to most proposals instead of collaboration and to help the community to grow and develop according to Auroville’s aims. This was the case with 1) the Crown-Walk, 2) attempts to lay infrastructure services along the Crown right-of-way, and 3) not supporting nor encouraging the dialogues that the Secretary initiated with the Youth Centre and others.
The incidents of December 4th to 9th 2021 saw you three members take an active stand against the Governing Board and the Secretary, Auroville Foundation, publicly and via the media and social media, in the name of the Working Committee, disregarding the perspective of the other members our group and without making the slightest effort to calm things and start a dialogue.
There was abuse against the Secretary at a live-streamed public meeting soon after which shocked people around the world, in the government as well as people in the community who wrote to the Working Committee – yet our suggestion to make a statement before the community to disapprove of such behaviour was brushed aside and not acted upon.
It must be noted that the Governing Board in its 57th meeting held in Auroville on 2nd November 2021 had decided that “On the occasion of Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birth anniversary, a fresh impetus must be given to realise the Auroville Township in accordance with the Auroville Universal Township Master Plan within a time frame”.
The Governing Board further added that “All Master Plan deviations on the land earmarked for the Crown have to be cleared so that the circular Crown Road and related infrastructure can be built without further delay...”
In the above-mentioned meeting of the Governing Board, it also noted that “The Working Committee must assist the Governing Board with the implementation of decisions taken by the Board within a time frame”.
When the four of us Working Committee members raised these subjects in Working Committee meetings or made efforts to get these decisions or observations discussed and implemented, the three of you undermined all such requests by suggesting we were not the Working Committee of the Residents' Assembly. In other words, only some members of Auroville seem to count as RA in your eyes but not the rest nor their aspirations for Auroville.
Most glaring has been the attempts to publicly malign the Auroville Foundation as a whole and the Secretary in particular in the national and international media and all-over social media, by a member of this Working Committee as well as others which you chose not to condemn even once.
Visa issues are now being held up to condemn the Governing Board and the Secretary instead of helping to build bridges with the community which would help matters immensely.
Failure to assist the Residents' Assembly
Many residents of Auroville would like to see the Working Committee take a balanced stand towards making Auroville advance according to its aims, laid by the Charter and help accomplish the township in accordance with the master plan.
People writing to us in support of town development, including the Crown, the ATDC, or in anguish about the Dec 4th 2021 incidents, the NGT stay order and the RA process are ignored.
The 3 of you have adopted the currently populist stand of resistance, even in the public sphere and in the media. This has become detrimental for Auroville as a whole.
There was no acknowledgement of the report presented by us members on the events of 4thDecember 2021 and no attempt to harmonise perspectives – the 4 were seen at fault for presenting their first hand version of the morning events.
Despite questions being raised about the functioning of the RAS by several residents writing to WCom or the RAS, regarding the misuse of volunteers, by allowing them in Resident Assembly meetings and to make social media postings thereafter – there have been no attempt to address this nor take up the discussion to review the Volunteers policy which was submitted to the group almost two months ago.
Team work failures
When the new team came into office, outgoing member, Carel Thieme, told us about the system of quorum followed by the team. If four members agreed on a topic it would pass. We agreed to this, even if in some cases one or two of us were not satisfied with a decision or if our points had been ignored.
However, any suggestion or observations from our side, on issues relating to governance or the Residents' Assembly have been looked upon with disdain. Nevertheless we feel these are things the Working Committee needs to look into to help improve or simplify and assist in a better functioning of the Residents' Assembly in the spirit of Auroville, instead of spending hours on personal complaints and disputes.
The 58th meeting of the Governing Board, which was held on January 18th 2022, saw no effort from the three members to look at questions put before us by the Governing Board. As it happened, we four members finally decided to share some perspectives via a brief presentation to the Governing Board. This was met with fury by the three of you and personal threats from Hemant Lamba.
Though we presented it to the GB as an unfinished work, to be discussed further with the rest of the team, this was called an “exclusion” and reported to the GB & IAC, in N&N and Auronet. Our invitation more than twice to take up the presentation topics further met with no response.
The recent Governing Board meeting resulted in something similar. Instead of disagreeing or blocking what the 3 wished to present we submitted two separate reports on matters concerning us all at present. Though this was informed twice via email, it was regarded as an offence and we were not allowed to circulate them via the Working Committee email. However, this has now been shared with the community.
Auroville Town Development Council (ATDC)
One of the first impressions of working with this team was the lack of willingness to interact with the ATDC. Though we worked with the FAMC, Land Board etc, this key working group was something of a pariah and not given the support it needed, while enormous effort was put to somehow to dislodge the ATDC members. It took some effort to (partially) rectify this situation and to return documents that belonged to ATDC so that they could do their work.
Similarly, we had to face a Writ Petition filed by the previous Working Committee, which had been prepared and filed in secrecy, without the knowledge of the community. It included the Government of Tamil Nadu and the Government of India (Ministry of Education) as respondents. The petition was withdrawn after a repeat recommendation from the Ministry and the intervention of the new Secretary, after she arrived.
Absence from work
Chali was away for 3 months, however work continued harmoniously in her absence. Only the reporting suffered.
Hemant was absent without any direct communication or email from 19th January 2022. Chali and Sauro told us he had Covid. On 9th February we were abruptly informed via Whatsapp that he was in Delhi with Francois Gauthier regarding visas and was meeting a Cabinet Secretary and was slotted to meet Mr Doval and other officials as well as ex-GB chairman Dr Karan Singh, to update them about the December events. There was no prior discussion about this in the group, nor any mail informing us about his intentions beforehand either by him or by any of you. Hemant has since been to Delhi in March and is travelling again. He does not share the programs of his visits nor what he communicates to officials and the media about Auroville.
We are particularly disturbed by Hemant’s polarising and grossly misleading statements in the Press about the events, the community, the Auroville Foundation and the Secretary which are highly objectionable.
In the Scroll reprint article (https://scroll.in/article/1017895/in-auroville-a-contentious-development-plan-has-stoked-anger-and-dissension) he makes claims in the name of the Working Committee, without even consulting us, as he had earlier done in a video interview.
“Auroville Working Committee members claim that the planned right of way requires the felling of over 1,50,000 trees and shrubs of tropical dry evergreen forest species, some of which are endangered trees”.
These are statements without proof, while openly maligning fellow members of the Residents' Assembly as misguided fanatics and playing divisive politics via the media as a Working Committee member.
“Auroville Working Committee member Hemant Lamba said the planned right of way requires the felling of over 1,50,000 trees and shrubs of tropical dry evergreen forest species, some of which are endangered trees. ‘Politics has the power to tear the delicate fabric of our path to human unity, and for this reason, most Aurovillians shun all political activity’, he remarked”.
“Lamba maintains that the Aurovillian equilibrium has been stricken by some fanatical interpretations of “development” that ignore ground realities. In recent years, a few community members have developed more extreme views about the Mother’s wish to build a “city of the future”, believing that the execution of the Crown as a “perfect circle” is essential to hasten Auroville’s spiritual development.”
“We are not opposed to the development but the manner in which the Auroville Foundation, headed by central government-appointed officials, is going about it is not in the spirit of Auroville,” Hemanth Lamba, member, working committee of the residents’ assembly,...” “The moment she arrived, she began polarising Auroville, exploiting the difference of opinion among residents. Divisions were created on lines of hardliners versus liberals, Indians versus foreigners, locals versus outsiders,” Lamba said, alleging that Auroville’s tradition of community participation in decision making was being violated.”
There were no prior consultations with other Working Committee members on these press interactions and none of these statements were questioned by Chali or Sauro. Questions raised by us in February 2022 regarding Hemant’s comments were ignored. When asked again, some weeks later, Hemant declared that he didn’t have to answer anything or anybody.
Meanwhile, false accusations of instigating violence have been made against us, without proof, with the clear purpose of maligning us in the eyes of Auroville residents and the world at large through an RAD. This has now resulted in a section of Auroville residents attempting to get us dismissed from the Working Committee on false grounds that you seem to support.
The document “Participatory Working Groups and the Selection Process of their Members” of December 2020 describes the (pre-)qualifications of working group members and includes the following “motto”: “Motto: I offer to serve the work in a committed and impartial way in a spirit of equanimity, inclusiveness, efficiency and generosity. I cooperate and contribute to enable the best outcome of the task in alignment with the ideals of Auroville.”
It is clear from the above that you have failed in this regard on all accounts.
We made calls to have normal and constructive dialogues with you, as a team of adults across the table which was rejected. Instead you proposed mediation where facilitators are known to be biased.
A few weeks ago we asked about a court case being filed against the Foundation on behalf of the old Outreach Media but received no reply. Now it has become common knowledge that such a case has indeed been filed by a resident. We again hear that several court cases are now planned against the Foundation via the channel of the Working Committee. This is most alarming to hear given the repercussions this will have on the larger Auroville who have no idea about what actions that are being taken on their behalf. Has such a major decision been agreed to by the RA? Again our questions regarding these court cases to the three of you yesterday received no reply.
We sadly conclude therefore, that all integration attempts that we made time and again have failed.
The above-mentioned document of December 2020 & April 2022 includes a provision whereby members of a working group can be asked to step down from membership by the working group itself. Under this provision we ask the three of you to step down from the Working Committee with immediate effect and hope that the realisation of the ideals of Auroville can be taken forward with new Working Committee members who live by the mandate defined by the Auroville Foundation Act.
As per the PWG requirement this is being shared with the RAS for announcement.
With deep regret that such things must come to a pass in Auroville.
Anu Arun Partha Srimoyi