News & Notes 712:Report from the Working Committee on the Governing Board meeting in August 2017
Report from the Working Committee on the Governing Board meeting in August 2017
The new members of the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation, Chairman Dr. Karan Singh, Dr. Prema Nandakumar, Dr. Nirima Oza, Prof. Sachindanand Mohanty and Dr. Anirban Ganguly met on Sunday morning August 13th for a personal interaction, and afterwards were introduced to the members of the Working Committee. Lunch followed at Samarpan.
In the afternoon that day, the members listened to presentation of Wasteless, Humanscapes, the Auroville Institute of Applied Technology, the Sustainable Livelihood Institute and the Auroville Sports Resource Centre. This was followed by the members presenting themselves to the Aurovilians, the inauguration of Bharat Nivas’ bi-annual journal “Bhavishyate” and Prisma’s book “The Inauguration of Auroville – Concept and Purpose” and an interaction between the Board members and the community.
On 13th evening, the Working Committee members and other invitees, including officials from Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, attended a dinner hosted by Dr. Karan Singh at Hotel Ashok.
In the morning of August 14th, the Board was joined by Mr. A.K. Gopal, Under Secretary Ministry of HRD, representing ex-officio member Joint Secretary Mr. Rakesh Ranjan IAS, who could not attend the meeting himself.
The day started with Dr. Karan Singh inaugurating the new building of the Auroville Electrical Service and Solar Service. This was followed by the Board’s interaction with the Working Committee and other working groups. The following points were raised:
Topics raised by the Working Committee
- GB. We expressed our thanks to the outgoing Board members Dr. Aster Mira Patel, Shri Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, Dr. Mallika Sarabhai, Ms. Ameeta Mehra and Shri Y.S.V.S Murthy for their dedication and support to Auroville and requested the HRD Ministry to soon appoint the two remaining members.
- IAC. We also recorded our gratitude to the former members of the Auroville International Advisory Council, Sir Mark Tully, Dr. Vishaka Desai, Dr. Kabir Shaikh, Dr. Shaunaka Rishi Das and Mr. Julian Lines whose presence and support have helped Auroville to grow and to become more conscious of needed developments in many directions. We requested the HRD Ministry will soon appoint new members to the Council.
- Working Committee constitution. We informed the Board about the upcoming changes in the composition of the Working Committee.
- GOI grant. We informed the Board about the constitution and the work of the newly appointed Government of India Grants subgroup; discussed the height of the GOI grant; and requested the Board’s approval for the proposed allocations of the regular GOI grant for the year 2017-2018 made in consultation with the Secretary and the Under Secretary.
- Visa. We discussed pending visa issues including volunteers’ issues, and requested the Board to promote an interaction with the Home Ministry.
- Land. We discussed the need to obtain the relevant government permission to sell outlying lands of Auroville, as approved by the Resident’ Assembly some years ago, so that funds become available to purchase lands within the city and greenbelt areas.
- Institute of National Importance for Human Unity. We discussed the possibility for Auroville to be recognized as an Institution of National Importance dedicated towards Human Unity. This status would help Auroville in many ways to accelerate its development.
- Fundraising issues. The Board was requested to write to the relevant ministries asking them to inform the public sector undertakings functioning under their ambit that they can make donations to Auroville from their Corporate Social Responsibility budgets.
- The Humanscapes project. The Board was informed about the status of this project and was requested to approach the Hon’ble HRD Minister to instruct the granting of the funds agreed upon.
Topics presented by various working groups (most groups had already submitted a written report to the Board)
- .The 50th anniversary core group detailed its plans for the 50th anniversary celebrations.
- The Auroville Council introduced itself and its work.
- The new Matrimandir executives highlighted the work done and to be done in the next year.
- The Land Board and the Acres for Auroville group reported on progress and issues of constraint regarding land acquisition, land protection and fundraising for the land.
- The Land Protection Group briefly informed about the need for land protection and the status of the research on the desirability and possible form of a New Town Development Authority for the Auroville area.
- The Funds and Assets Management Committee informed the members about its functioning and presented an overview of Auroville finances.
The morning meeting was followed by a lunch at Le Morgan. In the afternoon, the Board had its own meeting.
Observations and lessons learned
We would like to share the following observations:
- Available time. The time of the interaction between the Board and the working groups is extremely limited. Everything has to be packed within 3 hours. We observed that some of the verbal presentations made to the Board were too long, and contained information which was not to the point. We will inform the various presenters about our view.
- Information overload. Within a period of 3 hours, the Board members are supposed to take in all that is being said. This is not humanly possible. Relevant information has to be presented in writing, and the oral presentations should only be used to highlight areas of concern. Written presentations have to be submitted long before the meeting, and not during or even after the meeting. We will henceforth ask for presentations to be sent to us a month before the scheduled meeting.
- Too many people. A few working groups thought it necessary to introduce all members of their group and their backgrounds to the Board. This is not necessary and takes time. A presentation of a few representative members will henceforth be sufficient.
- Unknown person. One working group introduced a person who was unknown to the Working Committee and Secretary, and who subsequently addressed the Board. This is incorrect. The members of a working group chosen by the community alone should address the Board.
- Behaviour. It was observed (and not only by the Working Committee) that some members displayed irreverent behaviour towards the Board, e.g. by ‘sitting on their shoulder blades’ or speaking amongst themselves during the presentation. This is disrespectful to the Board.