SAIIER 2013:Auroville Archives
Auroville Archives was set up in 1991 to keep a comprehensive and accurate record of all the experimental activities in this unique International Township project, a “Living Laboratory” as the Mother called it.
Auroville was founded on 28 February 1968, based on the vision of Sri Aurobindo on the future evolution of man and Human Unity under a four point Charter laid down by the Mother. It was planned for building an International city for 50,000 in a most challenging environment on a barren land in Tamil Nadu by inviting people from all around the world. There was virtually no laid down hierarchy or even rules and regulations (except for one - “NO DRUGS” in Mother‘s own hand).
Over the years, besides restoring life into the barren land and converting it into lush green forests today and other challenges, natural and manmade, various experiments have been done in soil reclamation, education, community life, health, technology, agriculture, industries to raise much needed funds for construction and other collective ventures – to name just a few – keeping in mind the needs of the local village population in the planned township area.
Through the years, problems have been faced and tackled by the present lot of about 1700 adult Aurovilians and about 500 minors today from 45 countries round the world even through failures in certain cases, keeping in mind the four point Charter for Auroville given by the Mother.
It is important that a complete record be kept of all the material and spiritual experiments and other activities carried out in this unique project, (the only one of its kind in the world) backed by the numerous unanimous resolutions of the world body, UNESCO and supported by the Government of India on its soil. This invaluable record has to be preserved for posterity for future researches and study.
About the Auroville Archives
To meet the above needs, Auroville Archives was established in 1991 temporarily in the only available and limited space in the galleries below the Sri Aurobindo Auditorium in Bharat Nivas meant for electrical cables and air conditioning ducts. All materials from the widely spread out individual communities around the planned township area, had to be collected and preserved as best as possible centrally, to be free from damage by dust, heat, humidity and insects, of which there is no dearth in Auroville area.
All the materials – paper, audio, video, photographs, and slides are gradually being converted to digital form for long term preservation and future research.
There are severe limitations in the ongoing work presently due to the improvised and limited space available for the ever increasing lot of Archival records.
A project for a permanent and bulk specially designed building for the Auroville Archives was prepared and awaits sanction by the authorities concerned.
After 43 years of its existence, Auroville today has a population of only about 2200 but has to grow to its full strength of 50,000 in the years to come. All this requires a sound understanding of the needs of not only additional storage space but of additional and modern technical equipments and financial resources for the same by the authorities concerned. The most important thing is the sanction for the new specially designed Archives building.
Besides the ongoing work on collection/sorting out of all written material and conversion to digital formats, another project titled “Face cum Voice” record was taken up during 2009-2010. This project was aimed at recording voices of Aurovilians on how they came to know about Auroville and then decided to join it from different parts of the world and what they have done along with their personal comments on the ongoing work. More than 200 Aurovilians have been interviewed so far and their recordings converted into DVDs. This is of immense value for future research years hence when the existing lot has gone but to hear their personal experiences and work in this unique project.
Due to erratic power cuts in Tamil Nadu, it not possible to maintain the necessary level of humidity and temperature control in the available improvised space. Under these circumstances, a small “cold storage” room was built with technical input from one Aurovilian working in Matrimandir air-conditioner plant this was based on a special grant allotted on request by the Foundation for World Education. Available sensitive materials (photos, slides, negatives, DVDs and other electronic materials) are now stored in the cold storage room where the temperature and humidity does not come down drastically when there is no power.
An immediate sanction for the proposed permanent building for the Archives is needed. Besides the above, there are certain other urgent modifications proposed in the existing habitat like air-conditioning of the front room which need sanction which need financial sanction urgently.