News & Notes 841:Working Committee Report, Aug 24th to Oct 15th 2020

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841 icon.jpg   News & Notes 841
24 October 2020


Working Committee report, Aug. 24th to Oct. 15th, 2020


The main issues in this period were as follows:


Meeting of the Governing Board

We have been informed that the 56th meeting of the Governing Board will be on-line and will be held on November 7th. All reports have been submitted to the Board and can be accessed on the Auronet at https://auroville.org.in/article/81780. The Chairman has responded that there is no need to take decisions on all the items except the ones that need immediate attention, and that the rest, as suggested by Madan Gopal ji, can be postponed for the first meeting of the new Governing Board.

Auroville Foundation

  1. The term of office of the present members of the Governing Board ends on November 23rd. We have not been informed about the appointment of any new members.
  2. The appointment of the Secretary of the Auroville Foundation is still awaited.
  3. The appointment of new members of the International Advisory Council is still awaited.

Selection process for members of working groups

We would like to thank the community for offering suggestions on our final proposal for the selection of members of the Working Committee, Auroville Council, Funds and Assets Management Committee and Entry Board; this proposal is a refined version of the interim selection process which the community approved in February 2020.

We have amended the proposal taking feedback into account. The main amendments are:

  1. Regarding feedback on candidates. All feedback will now be sent to the RAS which will send it to the confirmed participants in the selection process. The feedback will not be published on the Auronet or in the News and Notes. The participants commit to treat all feedback as confidential and not publish or circulate it and only use this feedback for information and reflection while selecting nominees.
  2. Regarding the method of selecting. The earlier proposal has been simplified:
  • For each vacancy each participant in the selection process (called the selector) gets one selection card.
  • Each selector can only use one card per candidate, or discard a card. EG, if there are 3 candidates, A, B, and C., the selector can submit one card for A, one for C, and deposit the third card in the discard box. The selector can also deposit all cards in the discard box in case the selector is of the opinion that none of the candidates are suitable to fill the vacancies.
  • To be selected, a candidate needs to have the trust of a minimum of 51% of the selectors. A candidate will not be selected, if this quorum has not been reached.
  • If there are more vacancies and more than one candidate has passed the quorum, the candidate who has gained the most trust will be selected, followed by the next etc.
  • The cards in the discard box will not be counted.

TDC membership

As there is no clarity yet about a selection process agreed by the community, and also as we have proposed to the Board that former Governing Board member of the Auroville Foundation and former Chairman of the Town Development Council Dr. B.V. Doshi is invited through his organization to do an assessment of the present status of planning in Auroville and to propose a way forward including a suitable organizational structure, we have decided to strengthen the present two-member team of the TDC by nominating at least three interim members to join the TDC. This decision is based on the Governing Board’s Standing Order constituting the TDC that requires the Working Committee to fill vacancies. An announcement inviting qualified people to propose themselves has been circulated in the community. We hope to complete the process in 3-4 weeks.

Coronavirus Covid-19 update

The Working Committee together with the Task Force continues its reporting about new developments and shares government guidelines. We are aware that some community members have principal objections to the wearing of masks; however, we are bound to follow government instructions. We request all those who visit public places in Auroville to respect these instructions and the need of fellow Aurovilians for a sense of safety and use masks where requested. Please treat the staff and volunteers in these places with respect, even if you do not agree with this requirement.

Aurovilians abroad

  1. As mentioned in our previous report, the Working Committee has written to the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, requesting that holders of an X2 or X3 visa, (a special type of visa which are issued only for Auroville) who are abroad may be allowed to return to Auroville.
  2. François G. has been so kind to discuss the issue with the relevant government officials during his last visit to New Delhi.
  3. We have not supplied François, as he requested, a list of all those who are abroad and want to return to Auroville, as this list is incomplete and people will be left out. We have asked François to stress that a decision could be made on the basis of the special type of visa issued for Auroville. We believe that approaching the government with a list of names may lead to exclusion of some people and will not include the people who are leaving Auroville in the near future and need to return. Moreover, there are several lists that are circulating and might create confusion. We feel therefore that the best approach is to continue to look for a general recognition that Aurovilians are people with their primary residence and life in India, are not occasional travelers, and therefore they should have the same right to return as other permanent residents.

Developments on private land

  1. We have had no further response to our request to the Governing Board about safeguarding the lands for Auroville, as mentioned in our report over the months of April-July 2020.
  2. Jointly with the FAMC and Land Bard we are in the process of employing an empaneled evaluator to evaluate the value of lands and buildings which we would like to purchase.

The Auroville Entry Policy 2020 / Entry and Exit Regulations / Exit Policy

  1. The RAD called by us to approve the proposed new Entry Policy failed due to lack of quorum.
  2. We are reviving the work of finalizing the (internal) Auroville Exit Policy, which had come to a standstill due to the Covid situation. This will soon be presented to the community for feedback.
  3. We are also reviewing once again the proposed amendments to the Exit Regulations (approved by the GoI) and feedback that was received about these proposed amendments.
  4. We intend to organize a decision of the Residents Assembly on all issues to do with Entry and Exit, e.g. the proposed amendments to the official Entry and Exit Regulations passed by the Government of India; and the two internal documents, the Entry Policy and the Exit Policy.

Light For All – Pour Tous Task Force

On July 17th 2020, we thanked the members of the Light For All – Pour Tous Task Force for all the work done and informed them that as its report has been sent to the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation who has sent it to the HRD Ministry for further action, for the time being no further action of the Light For All PTTF Task Force will be required. We understand that the Light For All PTTF Task Force would like to try to bring closure to all those involved in the allegations. However, since the mandate of the original Task Force was to solicit and compile responses from those accused and not investigate as such, any continuation of work on these cases would have to be considered a 'next phase'. This would require a new iteration of the Task Force with a new membership, a new scope of work that is clearly defined, including clarity on reporting intervals and review of progress, and clarity on the date when the work of the Task Force is ended. This should be done in collaboration with the Working Committee and/or the Auroville Council. However, it is too early for this new phase to start, as we have to await the response of the HRD Ministry. For these reasons we consider the work of the PTTF as finished.

Sri Aurobindo’s 150th anniversary

We intend to appoint a core team to organize the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s birthday on August 15th, 2022. Those who are interested to participate in the organization of these celebrations are kindly requested to send an email to wcoffice (at) auroville.org.in.

Waste in Kuilapalayam

The Block Development Officer has written to the Project Director, Villupuram, asking for a site to be located where the heaps of waste next to and opposite the Auroville bakery can be deposited. This is being followed up by one of our members.

Auroville Child Protection (AVCP)

Last year the Auroville Council and Working Committee initiated an effort to create a new Child Protection Service since the old one had ceased functioning some years ago. A few individuals with experience in the field were invited to work on reviewing the old draft Auroville policy for Child Protection and through this process a small team has emerged to coordinate awareness programs, finalize the internal policy and address issues and cases regarding the safety and protection of children in Auroville, including those in Outreach schools and activities. The new AVCP will be publishing a separate announcement shortly.

DSP visit to Auroville

The Deputy Superintendent of Police has agreed to visit Auroville and address a small group of Auroville youth and adults to explain the law and the involvement of the police in certain circumstances. As the number of participants must be limited due to Covid restrictions, those interested to attend this presentation are kindly requested to send an email to wcoffice (at) auroville.org.in.

Contacting Indian officials

We would like to remind all Auroville working groups and residents that it is the function of the Secretary, Auroville Foundation, and the Working Committee on behalf of the Residents’ Assembly, to interact with Indian officials when representing Auroville. This reminder is necessary as recently one working group sent a long letter demanding action to a long list of officials in Tamil Nadu. We have advised the Secretary to inform the officials concerned to ignore this letter. Any working group or resident who needs to contact officials are requested to do so via the Secretary and/or the Working Committee.

Filming

Rumours have it that Vikram Ram is planning to make a docudrama similar to ‘Wild Wild Country’ about Auroville, in collaboration with known film-makers in India. We request anyone who is contacted for any kind of filmed or recorded interviews, or anyone who sees filming going on in Auroville to inform Outreach Media (outreachmedia (at) auroville.org.in).

Speeding and rash driving

There have been numerous complaints from residents about other residents driving very fast and in an unsafe manner on Auroville roads. We request everyone to please respect other road users and their sense of safety and security by driving at moderate speeds and with consciousness of others.


~ The Working Committee (Carel, Chali, Jurgen, Partha, Ranjith, Sauro, Selvaraj)